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Tag:Conference USA
Posted on: February 7, 2012 3:15 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2012 7:59 am
 

Pastner's job just got a lot harder at Memphis

Memphis basketball will see its profile raised -- and that could be a good and bad thing for its head coach. (AP)

By Gary Parrish


News that Memphis is expected to join the Big East is great for the city of Memphis. And the University of Memphis. And the athletic department. And the football program. And the fans. And pretty much everybody ... except Josh Pastner.

This is not a great development for the Memphis basketball coach.

Granted, it doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing. But there's a reason John Calipari went from a coach who won just one NCAA tournament game in his first five seasons at Memphis to a coach who went to a Final Four, two Elite Eights and a Sweet 16 in his last four years, and it's not solely because somebody (allegedly) took Derrick Rose's SAT. The rise to prominence coincided with Louisville, Cincinnati and Marquette getting the hell out of Conference USA and leaving Memphis as the only school in the league that funded its basketball program like a national power. Suddenly, nobody else in C-USA could recruit like Memphis or travel like Memphis or pay its coach like Memphis, and the Tigers started overwhelming the league in the exact same way -- and for exactly the same reasons -- that Gonzaga had been overwhelming the West Cost Conference.

Those advantages disappear the day Memphis moves to the Big East.

And what's to be gained for the basketball coach?

The Tigers already routinely sell out FedExForum and recruit almost nothing but Top 100 prospects, so the usual bumps that come with an advancement in conference affiliation won't matter much to Pastner. The only thing that'll change is that he'll no longer be able to out-recruit his league because Louisville, Connecticut, Villanova, Marquette and Georgetown (just to name a few) all recruit at the highest levels, too. So now Pastner will find himself fighting with the likes of Rick Pitino, Jay Wright, John Thompson III and Mike Brey to get to the top of the Big East, and he'll be scrapping like crazy in some years to avoid falling into the bottom half. It's much easier to consistently beat UAB, UTEP and Southern Miss than it is to consistently beat at least 10 Big East programs. That's the reality of the situation. The Memphis job just got a lot tougher.

Which is not to suggest this isn't a day for Memphians to celebrate.

Because it is.

A jump to the Big East has been in the works for nearly a decade.

Now it's happening.

It really is happening.

The move will bring more exposure to the school, more money to the athletic department and more compelling games to the fans, and it might just turn that mess of a football program into something relevant, too. Those are all positives. But the move will also undeniably make Josh Pastner's job much more difficult. Twenty-five wins a season won't be practically guaranteed anymore. That's the downside of moving up in the world.


Posted on: December 27, 2011 8:59 am
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:35 pm
 

Conference Reset

As well roll into January that can only mean one thing -- we're about to launch full swing into conference play.

For some teams, non-conference play was a wake-up call. Teams that many thought would easily stroll into the NCAA tournament come March will now have to pick up the pace in league play.

Through Jan. 5, the CBSSports.com college basketball crew will be putting the spotlight on every major league, letting you know what you may have missed and what do you need to watch out for going forward.

  • ACC
    The ACC is going to be great soon with the additions of Syracuse and Pittsburgh. But is it great right now? Not really. North Carolina remains a national title contender, Duke is Duke (despite Wednesday's loss at Temple) and Virginia is a surprise. But the league's other nine teams are either unproven or proven to be average or bad, and that's not a good look for a conference that prides itself on playing a high level of basketball. Read More >>
  • Atlantic 10
    For a while, it appeared the Atlantic 10 might finish without a conference champ. Xavier got off to a sizzling start with nine straight victories. Then came The Brawl -- followed by the Fall. Xavier suspended Tu Holloway, Mark Lyons and Dez Wells after the fight with cross-town rival Cincinnati -- and it all fell apart. Chris Mack's team lost three of its next four, including setbacks to Oral Roberts and Hawaii, which gave hope to everyone else in the league. Now Rick Majerus' Saint Louis team, which has only one loss thus far, may have a shot. Temple has struggled at times, but the Owls could challenge. And Saint Joseph's finally appears back in contention after two brutal campaigns. Read More >>
  • Big 12
    The Big 12 title is up for grabs. Kansas has been king of the league for most of the past decade, but this season the Jayhawks look vulnerable. No one can match the talent and length of Scott Drew's Baylor squad, but the Bears haven't been the most impressive team in the conference thus far -- that honor belongs to Missouri and new coach Frank Haith. But don't count out Kansas State as long as Frank Martin has this group of somewhat anonymous Wildcats buying into his brand of basketball -- which means playing hard. Read More >>
  • Big East
    When compared to last season, the Big East might look down this year. It's not going to be in the mix for 10 or 11 NCAA tournament bids, and the bottom of the league is not very strong. With that said, don't underestimate the conference too much; it has at least three legitimate top 10 teams and six teams who should receive top-four seeds in the NCAA tournament. Read More >>
  • Big Ten
    How many teams can enter league play these days and legitimately say they have eight teams in the equation for an NCAA tournament bid? Probably just one, and that's the Big Ten. After Ohio State, there's plenty of depth in this conference, which has established itself as the premiere league in the country this season. Read More >>
  • Conference USA
    Though Memphis is a disappointment, it's still the best team in Conference USA by a wide margin. But don't take my word for it. Take Ken Pomeroy's. His invaluable site (KenPom.com) still has Memphis ranked 31st and projected to be favored in every game it plays the rest of the way. So that 8-5 record is likely to turn into something like 26-8 on Selection Sunday (barring serious injuries or notable suspensions, the latter of which is always a possibility at Memphis). So Memphis will win C-USA. The real question is whether C-USA can put two teams in the NCAA tournament. Read More >>
  • Horizon League
    It doesn't seem likely that the Horizon will produce a national finalist for the third year in a row, but that doesn't mean the conference has taken a huge fall. Cleveland State and Wisconsin-Milwaukee have played well during non-conference play, and the league has had a few marquee clips against BCS-league teams. And what about Butler, the aforementioned two-time national finalist? The Bulldogs are turning things around as we enter conference play. But the rest of the league won't let Brad Stevens' troops waltz to a yet another Horizon title. Read More >>
  • Missouri Valley
    It's been a few years since the Valley was this good, even though the bottom part of this one (like most leagues) has a few bad teams. The race to win the league should be among four teams. For whatever reason, MVC clubs capture the hope of many in the tournament. Creighton, Northern Iowa, Bradley, Southern Illinois are all schools that have had big March moments. Two of the aforementioned can and should get into the Big Dance this year. Read More >>
  • Mountain West
    It's better than the Pac-12, and the case could be made it's the fourth-best collection of teams in college hoops. There isn't one group that's even flirting with .500. For a non-BCS conference, that's pretty unexpected and really good. And its success so far goes much deeper than Vegas' defeat of UNC back in November and Steve Fisher's insistence on looking like he teaches grad-level lit classes. Read More >>
  • Pac-12
    The Pac-12 has become the rebellious teenager that gets in its own way and is hurtling toward a life with no future. Here we are again having the same discussion we’ve been having the past few years. Nothing seems to be changing. This league is putrid yet again, and where’s the hope? Not an overstatement: Three Pac-12 teams making the NCAA tournament will be a genuine achievement. Read More >>
  • SEC
    Some fans take joy in the fact that John Calipari has never won a national title. If you're one of those, you might be in trouble. Kentucky really might do it this year. The Wildcats are big and strong and long and talented. They have shooters. They have shot-blockers. They've got everything you need to win a national championship, and they are, right now, the favorites out in Las Vegas. Read More >>
  • West Coast
    Outside of the six BCS-affiliated conferences, the No. 7 spot in league rankings is up for grabs. Why not the West Coast Conference? With three legitimate threats to win a game in the NCAA tournament, the WCC has as good of an argument as anyone. Moreover, with some of the non-conference wins the bottom half of the league picked up in November, the quality victories are there as well. Read More >>

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Posted on: December 17, 2011 9:05 pm
Edited on: December 17, 2011 9:44 pm
 

Memphis lost again (but will be fine)

By Gary Parrish

MEMPHIS -- The easiest thing to do is point to last season and insist this is exactly the same.

But it's not the same.

Despite Memphis' 5-4 record and lack of number beside its name, these Tigers aren't like those Tigers because those Tigers were awful. They were 8-1 at this point last season, and that looked OK on the surface. But they had been blasted by Kansas, struggled with Miami and LSU and taken to overtime by Arkansas State and Austin Peay. Memphis never really got better and went on to finish 10-6 in Conference USA. It was a bad season. But it won't happen again.

Because this team is not that team.

So while this city is in (basketball) panic-mode after Saturday's 95-87 loss at fourth-ranked Louisville that dealt the Tigers their fourth defeat in nine games, it's worth reminding people that context matters. Memphis hasn't been pushed by the likes of Arkansas State and Austin Peay. The four losses this season are to four ranked teams -- namely No. 4 Louisville, No. 16 Georgetown, No. 20 Michigan and No. 24 Murray State -- and the Tigers were in three of those four games until the final minute.

Is that good?

No.

They need to learn how to close and win.

A team ranked 11th in the preseason shouldn't have four losses already.

But a lot of the questions that plagued last season's team aren't issues with this season's team. They're much better offensively (top 30 in offensive efficiency), and they have an obvious star in Will Barton (28 points and 16 rebounds on Saturday). That's why Memphis will get rolling once league play begins and string wins in January like John Calipari's teams used to do.

Which reminds me of the 2008-09 Memphis team.

You remember that team?

That team started 6-3 with losses to Xavier, Georgetown and Syracuse, and that team didn't look good through nine games, either. But then Tyreke Evans turned into a star and the Tigers started overwhelming overmatched opponents in Conference USA, and my guess is that this season will evolve into something similar to that season. Does that mean I'm predicting a 27-game winning streak? No. But I do believe the Tigers will win 13 or 14 C-USA games, take the league title, win the C-USA tournament at FedExForum, make the NCAA tournament and be a scary outfit on their side of the bracket in March. All the advanced statistics suggest that's likely because all the advanced statistics suggest this team is closer to the 2008-09 team that overachieved than it is to the 2010-11 team that underachieved.

Bottom line, Memphis will be fine.

I really believe that.

The 5-4 record looks bad right now, obviously.

But I bet it's still something like 26-8 on Selection Sunday.

Photo: US PRESSWIRE
Posted on: December 15, 2011 11:17 am
Edited on: December 15, 2011 11:18 am
 

Meet the new Kendrick, same as the old Kendrick

By Gary Parrish

Jelan Kendrick was supposed to make his debut at Ole Miss on Wednesday night.

He's finally eligible.

But he didn't play a single minute.

Because he didn't even dress out for the game.

Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy called it a "coach's decision" and left it at that. But what if I told you I heard Kendrick was late for a team meeting on Tuesday night and then 30 minutes late for a one-hour shoot-around on Wednesday? Would it surprise you? It didn't surprise me given Kendrick's past because you have to be a special kind of knucklehead to get dismissed from a college basketball team before you ever play a game -- especially if you're a McDonald's All-American. But that's precisely what happened to Kendrick last year at Memphis, and, best I can tell, he hasn't changed much since he moved 80 miles south to Oxford.

He fought a teammate and seriously threatened another while at Memphis.

His entire time on campus was a mess.

But Kendrick is so talented that Ole Miss decided to give him a second chance, and I don't blame Kennedy at all. You don't turn down McDonald's All-Americans at Ole Miss. I don't care how crazy they are. You always make that gamble. But sometimes gambles in basketball -- and in life -- become losing propositions, and when that happens what once seemed worth it no longer does. Kendrick is getting closer and closer to falling into that category. He's killing his college career for the second time at a second school.

How are you late to a team meeting the night before your first game?

And what kind of person backs that tardiness with more tardiness the following day?

It's impossible to make sense of it without simply writing Kendrick off as hopeless, and that just might be the case. He's extremely talented on the court but terribly flawed off of it. People have been trying to help him for years. But now it's time for him to help himself or find something else to do besides be a headache for the latest coach who so badly wants to believe in him.
Posted on: December 14, 2011 4:08 pm
 

Carmouche to be available for Memphis at UL

By Gary Parrish

Memphis coach Josh Pastner said Wednesday that senior Charles Carmouche will be reinstated to the team this week and play Saturday at fourth-ranked Louisville.

The 6-foot-3 guard had missed the past four games because, according to a source, he accrued unauthorized charges at a hotel during the Maui Invitational, and those charges amounted to an extra benefit. A source said the charges totaled "a little more than a hundred bucks" and that Memphis officials reported the incident to the NCAA after returning from Maui. Carmouche hasn't played since. But Pastner said the issue will be resolved before Saturday's tipoff at the KFC Yum! Center.

Carmouche has started all four games he's played this season.

He's averaging 8.3 points per game.

Memphis is 5-3 with losses to No. 16 Georgetown, No. 20 Michigan and No. 24 Murray State.
 
 
 
 
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