Blog Entry

Memphis fans: Pastner has kept Tigers relevant

Posted on: December 26, 2011 3:53 pm

By Jeff Goodman

Hey Memphis fans: It could be worse. Much worse. 

Athletic director R.C. Johnson could have hired someone not named Josh Pastner - and your program could have been without Will Barton, Adonis Thomas, Joe Jackson, Chris Crawford and Tarik Black. 

Virtually irrelevant nationally and mediocre even within Conference USA. 

Sure, the Tigers haven't met expectations this season under its 34-year-old third-year head coach. They are 6-5 with a pair of losses to Georgetown, one to Michigan out in Maui, a road setback to Louisville and a home loss to Murray State. Despite all five losses coming to ranked teams, it's remains unacceptable to Memphians. 

But this is still a team that should roll through Conference USA and have a shot at making the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive season in the Pastner regime. 

There's a reason why Pastner wasn't Johnson's first choice to follow John Calipari. 

He was young, inexperienced and unproven. Just about everyone understood it was going to take him some time, but then Pastner began to do what he does - which is work relentlessly and assemble elite talent, the kind of players who force us, as writers, to overrate the team despite their youth. 

Pastner has always been regarded as one of the nicest guys in the business. He was the "good cop" at Arizona and even as his brief time as an assistant to Calipari. However, now he needs to change that. He needs to be tougher, find a way to instill fear into his players. Throw a chair against the wall at halftime, maybe even take a sip of Coke or guzzle a beer. 

I've said I think he made a mistake replacing two veterans in the business in Glynn Cyprien and Willis Wilson - with two young ex-NBA guys: Damon Stoudemire and Luke Walton. Now Walton is back in the NBA and Pastner brought on Jimmy Williams - who is a veteran assistant coach that was out of the business. 

This is a team that should get well soon. There are three home games - against Robert Morris, Charlotte and Tennessee - prior to the start of league play. 

Barton (19.9 ppg, 8.8 rpg) is playing like a superstar, but nearly everyone else needs to pick up their game -- and there's no remedy like C-USA. Joe Jackson may not be a true point guard, but he's more than adept when going up against other guys in the league. Black obviously needs to learn how to remain out of foul trouble, but now Pastner has added depth in the frontcourt with the addition of Seton Hall transfer and Memphis native Ferrakohn Hall. 

And Thomas is a star-in-waiting, someone that will get better each and every game. 

We all forget the paltry leftovers that Calipari didn't take with him to Kentucky, what the program looked like just two years ago. If guys like Wesley Witherspoon, Pierre Henderson-Niles, Roburt Sallie and Doneal Mack were anything more than ordinary, Calipari would have found a way to take them with him to Lexington. 

Instead, they were left behind. 

Bruce Pearl didn't want this job, Florida State's Leonard Hamilton wasn't taking it -- and neither was Baylor's Scott Drew. I'm not certain Pastner was the ideal fit for this particular position, but he has done an impressive job keeping most of the top local players home (except for Jarnell Stokes) and also found a way to being in high-level guys like Barton. 

Sure, Pastner and the Tigers aren't living up to the hype.  

But at least they are relevant. 


Since: Jan 22, 2008
Posted on: December 28, 2011 5:40 pm

Memphis fans: Pastner has kept Tigers relevant

rjm, you are badly mistaken.  No one wants the cheater back. 

Since: Dec 26, 2011
Posted on: December 27, 2011 7:47 pm

Memphis fans: Pastner has kept Tigers relevant

We only hired one guy from the Grizz. Yes, Bruce absolutely wanted the job. At UT, he was third fiddle behind football and women's hoops.

Since: Jan 13, 2011
Posted on: December 27, 2011 7:37 pm

Memphis fans: Pastner has kept Tigers relevant

Well said, I made the same comments a few weeks ago that ok he will need time to learn how to be a better coach but his assistants should help but it was an error hiring the 2 guys from the Grizzleys a mistake and Pastner is guilty of that. But as was said in the artical Callapari took every good player with him and left some avg players. No one expected Pastener to bring in the talent he has and I would much rather have great talent that may be slow comming around because of coaching and they have no seniors or juniors that can step up and lead them and that's a big deal. One thing is for sure if you had a great coach with avg players even Callapari can't win but we have great players and if it takes Pastner some learning time to pull them together I can live with that as hard as he works he will get it done. And the guy that doubted that Pearl and the other guy would not take the job well the job was open and neither wanted the job at the time and I'm glad we did not hire Pearl. So Hang in Tiger Fans it could be much worse and I for one have no doubt Pastner will get the job done.

Since: Apr 1, 2011
Posted on: December 27, 2011 1:57 pm

Memphis fans: Pastner has kept Tigers relevant

Good article.  I disagree with the statements that Bruce Pearl and Scott Drew didn't want the job.  Either one of them would have taken it if it had been offered, which it wasn't.

Since: Dec 26, 2011
Posted on: December 27, 2011 1:48 pm

Memphis fans: Pastner has kept Tigers relevant

Annnnnnd meet the 1% who want Calipari back. I love people who call Pastner a failure as a coach less than three seasons into his career (One in which, by the way, he's already accumulated 50+ wins and has had more success his first two seasons than Cal did in his).

Compare Pastner his first to seasons to Cal, K, Pitino, Self, Izzo, et all their first two seasons and get back to me.

Since: Apr 28, 2008
Posted on: December 27, 2011 11:31 am

Memphis will always be relevant in college hoops-

You'd think if someone took the time to post a reply to this article they would know what they were talking about- This guy is daff. UM overall and home court (FedEx Forum) are light years ahead of the aforementioned schools and Memphis was relevant before JP and will be relevant long after he's gone.

Goodman is just protecting his fellow UA alum. JP is too nice to get it done regardless of where he goes, " I love you man will you please box out", just doesn't get it done, period. 

There is a reason Marine drill instructors aren't nice- same with coaches. You've got to break a man down before you can build (coach) him back up as a team player. If you watch Memphis, they play like 5 individuals and not a team and that fault rest squarely on the coach, there is no "I" in team and there are no please & thank you(s) in coaching.


Since: Dec 26, 2011
Posted on: December 27, 2011 1:57 am

Memphis fans: Pastner has kept Tigers relevant

So if it's MEMPHIS who has to cheat to be relevant, then why do two of the programs you listed (UK and Kansas) have as many, if not more, basketball violations on record as Memphis?

Memphis' facilities EASILY compare to any other program in the country.....and oh, by the way, that cesspool now has a squeaky clean coach and is STILL getting 4-5* recruits every year.

So Memphis has to cheat to get recruits (have to assume you mean Calipari here)....tell me, where is Cal coaching these days?

Since: Jun 5, 2011
Posted on: December 27, 2011 1:41 am

Sorry, Tiger fans: Memphis is never relevant

The only times Memphis has been "relevant," they had to cheat to get that way.  The bottom line is that Memphis can't compete with programs like UNC, Duke, UK, and Kansas in terms of facilities and environment.  Memphis is a cesspool.  Basketball has a reputation of being an urban sport, but the players aren't stupid, adn neither are their parents.  They all know the chances for success are greater in major universities than they are at Memphis.  
There is simply no way that Memphis will ever be able to recruit against the 'big boys" for elite talent without cheating.  Memphis fans should be proud that their team is "doing it the right way" instead of cheating.  Just don't expect them to win as often as they did when they used to cheat. 

Since: Jun 24, 2009
Posted on: December 27, 2011 1:31 am

Memphis fans: Pastner has kept Tigers relevant

Mr. Goodman,

Here is the issue with your blog: You act as if Memphis is some low level job lucky to have Josh Pastner. 1. R.C. Johnson is a moron and shouldn't be the athletic director at the Peoria, Illinois YMCA let alone Memphis. This is the largest reason for the lack of interest in the basketball coaching position after Cal took everything that wasn't nailed down to UK. You know as well as anyone in the country the level of fan support that exists at Memphis as well as the level of facilities. I ask you, what else is neccesary for success? Would you advise the beyond passionate fan base to settle for CUSA-type expectations? Is the expectations of National Championships somehow now reserved for Duke and Carolina only? I'm a Memphis alum and am proud and unapolagetic for the expectations of our fan base. Are you really suggesting that we need to just give up on expecting excellence and suddenly decide that beating Tulane constitutes a good season? Forgive me, but I believe the University of Memphis is capable of competing for National Championships on a yearly basis and I don't apologize for that belief

Since: Aug 24, 2009
Posted on: December 26, 2011 8:16 pm

Pastner has kept Tigers relevant?

Right now, at this point in time, the Tigers aren't relevant.  To use Goodman's own words:  Six and five, unable to beat a ranked team, and the only silver lining this year is that Conference USA is so weak that Memphis might make the NCAA tournament.  Pastner is 34, which isn't going to change much any time soon.  He's inexperienced and unproven.  The Tigers aren't living up to the hype.

That's our definition of relevant?  No, to make the case Goodman has to look to the future.  Everyone understood it was going to take some time.  Pastner can recruit (I'm not sure he should try to land all the local talent).  Everyone outside of W. Barton needs to pick up his game.  Thomas is a star in waiting.  Future, future, future.  But right now, the Tiger's aren't relevant.

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