Sep 26, 2012, 10:41 PM EDT
It’s official: Memphis head coach Josh Pastner is an elite recruiter.
Not that there was much doubt heading into this summer. His first recruiting class (the Class of 2010) with the Tigers included three five-star recruits and two four-star recruits. He landed three kids from Memphis (Joe Jackson, Chris Crawford and Tarik Black), a top ten player from Baltimore (Will Barton) and a McDonald’s all-american from Georgia (Jelan Kendrick). He brought in another five-star Memphis native (Adonis Thomas) in 2011, and followed that up by landing Shaquille Goodwin, Damien Wilson and Geron Johnson this year while managing to convince both Jackson (transfer) and Thomas (NBA Draft) to stay at Memphis.
His 2013 recruiting class could end up being the most impressive of his tenure. As of now, he has four top 100 recruits in line to enroll at Memphis next fall — Nick King, Markel Crawford, RaShawn Powell and Kuran Iverson, a skilled, 6-foot-9 small forward from Connecticut that ranks in the top 30 nationally and committed on Tuesday.
King and Crawford are from Memphis, Powell is from Florida and Iverson is from up in Big East country, which means that not only is Pastner able to tap into the faucet of talent in his own backyard, he’s now proving he can go and get players on a national scale.
So where are the wins?
That 75-29 overall record is nice until you consider that it has come during a stretch where Memphis should be far and away the best basketball program in Conference USA. John Calipari had more than half that many in the 2008 season that was wiped off the books. He also went his final three years with the Tigers without losing a conference game. Pastner is 36-12 in his first three years with one league title and a pair of tournament titles.
Again, that’s good, but given the talent he has at his disposal and the talent level of Conference USA, I think it’s fair to say those results are somewhere in the ‘mediocre to solid’ range.
The number that is more frustrating to Memphis fans is zero. As in, the number of NCAA tournament wins Pastner has in his first two seasons with the Tigers. There are plenty of programs and coaches that would be ecstatic with two straight NCAA tournament appearances. No one in Memphis things they fall under that umbrella.
Criticism of Pastner’s coaching ability is fair. But there are a couple things that need to be kept in mind before doing so:
- He’s young: Pastner took over this program as a 32 year old first-time head coach. The same way that a hot-shot, rookie point guard needs time to learn how to run an NBA team, Pastner needs time to develop his ability to coach a team. In-game adjustments, perfecting a system, game-planning, motivational pregame speeches, everything. Pastner’s been training himself to be a head coach since he was a walk-on on Arizona’s 1997 national title team, but “training” and “doing” are two different things. This may be the last year where it’s ok to say that he deserves the benefit of the doubt, but … Pastner still deserves the benefit of the doubt.
- He didn’t start with much: The Tigers were an NIT team in Pastner’s first season, but where would they have been without Eliot Williams? If you’ve forgotten, Williams transferred out of Duke and was granted immediate eligibility at Memphis due to a health issue of a family member. He was a first round pick that averaged 17.9 points and 3.8 assists. Without him, do the Tigers make the postseason? With Wesley Witherspoon, Roburt Sallie, Doneal Mack and Willie Kemp? I’m not so sure.
- He’s getting better: In 2010-2011, Pastner had a team full of 18 and 19 year-olds playing for their hometown team in city that idolizes high school and college hoopers. Getting that group to come together and make a run through the league tournament and earn an at-large bid — they finished fourth in regular season play — was impressive. What was more impressive was what he did with last season’s Memphis team. After 11 games, the Tigers were 6-5 and coming off of a hideous performance against Georgetown in Washington DC. I wrote this about them at that point. There were Memphis fans calling for Pastner’s job. And all they did the rest of the year was win 20 of their last 23 games and head into the NCAA tournament as a trendy sleeper pick to make a run.
- Those tournament losses were bad breaks: Down by two with five seconds left in the game, Wesley Witherspoon had his shot blocked by Derrick Williams on a play that very easily could have been called a foul. That’s how close the Tigers were to going to overtime. In the 2012 tournament, Memphis caught a terrible break by drawing an eight seed and getting matched up with a very good St. Louis team that matched up with the Tigers perfectly. Bad luck is not an excuse, but eventually Memphis will catch a break.
Memphis has a veteran group this season with a head coach that is coming into his own. So be patient, Memphis fans. You’re in good hands as your team makes the transition to the Big East. And given the way that last season ended, you may not even need to wait until you make that jump for your NCAA tournament run.
May 23, 2013, 10:50 PM EDT
Head coach Alan Major led the Charlotte basketball program to its first 20-win season since 2008 this past year, as the 49ers won 21 games and received a bid to the Postseason NIT. Next up for Major’s program is Conference USA, and the former Ohio State assistant will make the move with a new contract…
May 23, 2013, 9:30 PM EDT
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May 23, 2013, 8:00 PM EDT
The eight-team field for the 2013 Cancun Challenge is finally set, with 2013 NCAA tournament participants Saint Louis and Wisconsin headlining the field. The event will feature two four-team fields, with the Billikens and Badgers being joined by Old Dominion and West Virginia in the Riviera Division. The Mayan Division bracket consists of Bowling Green,…
May 23, 2013, 6:20 PM EDT
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May 23, 2013, 5:26 PM EDT
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May 23, 2013, 2:45 PM EDT
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May 23, 2013, 1:56 PM EDT
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May 23, 2013, 1:05 PM EDT
Cody Larson’s basketball career never got off the ground in Florida. After redshirting as a freshman, Larson was involved in a bizarre incident along with a team manager and Erik Murphy where he tried to break into a car after sneaking into a bar after closing time to inquire about a lost wallet. After being…
May 23, 2013, 12:02 PM EDT
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May 23, 2013, 11:13 AM EDT
Vanderbilt has made a change to their coaching staff, as Kevin Stallings went out and plucked Yanni Hufnagel off of Tommy Amaker’s staff at Harvard. “I couldn’t be more excited to join Coach Stallings and the rest of his outstanding staff here at Vanderbilt,” said Hufnagel. “Coach Stallings is not only recognized as one of…
May 23, 2013, 10:33 AM EDT
Michigan has no plans to part ways with Adidas at any point in the near future, according to a report from MLive.com. There had been some speculation in the last month that the Wolverines would end their contract with the apparel company because of the way that Adidas had handled a worker’s rights issue at…
May 22, 2013, 10:04 PM EDT
As a recruiting class that has been hailed by some as the best in the history of college basketball, Kentucky’s incoming freshmen will receive a lot of attention throughout the 2013-14 campaign. And with the skills that players such as Julius Randle, Aaron and Andrew Harrison, Dakari Johnson and James Young possess a number of…
May 22, 2013, 8:29 PM EDT
A third player with eligibility remaining will not return to the BYU program next season, as it was reported that 6-8 forward Agustin Ambrosino will not be a member of the basketball program in 2013-14. Ambrosino, who played an average of 6.2 minutes in 31 games last season, joins Raul Delgado (transferring to Metro State)…
May 22, 2013, 7:07 PM EDT
One week ago UMKC announced the addition of a fourth player to the program, as 6-10 forward/center Isaac Kreuer will return to the Kansas City metropolitan area after spending last year at the Impact Basketball Academy in Las Vegas. According to the Kansas City Star, first-year head coach Kareem Richardson has filled out his coaching…
May 22, 2013, 5:55 PM EDT
With the loss of four institutions the Colonial Athletic Association has some work to do on the realignment front. Apparently the league has found a new member, as it was reported by the Wilmington Star-News that Elon will officially join the CAA on Thursday. Elon has announced a press conference for 2:00 p.m. EST Thursday…
May 22, 2013, 4:44 PM EDT
On Tuesday, the University of Washington announced plans for an alumni basketball game to be held on June 23. Returning for the game will be former Husky stars such as Brandon Roy, Nate Robinson and Jon Brockman among many. Festivities will begin at 1:00 p.m., with there also being three-point and slam dunk competitions for…
May 22, 2013, 3:10 PM EDT
Will Yeguete just cannot get healthy. The Florida forward missed the final nine games of his sophomore season with a broken foot and then had to sit out much of February after arthroscopic surgery on his right knee as a junior. He returned to play the final six games of the season. Yeguete underwent more…
May 22, 2013, 2:04 PM EDT
On Monday afternoon, former Memphis big man Tarik Black announced that he would transferring to Kansas where he’ll team up with Andrew Wiggins, Wayne Selden and Joel Embiid to give Bill Self the nation’s best non-Kentucky recruiting class and a shot at a national title. Black, who will be eligible immediately, may never end up…
May 22, 2013, 1:37 PM EDT
USA Basketball has released a list of 24 players that will be attending training camp in Colorado Springs from June 14th-19th to try and earn a spot on Team USA for the U19 championships, which take place in Prague from June 27th-July 7th. While there is some solid talent on that roster, it’s not necessarily…
May 22, 2013, 1:11 PM EDT
It’s all-but official now: Mike Krzyzewski will be returning to coach Team USA in the 2014 World Championships in Madrid and the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro. That’s according to a report from Pete Thamel of SI, who reported over the weekend that Coach K was strongly considering returning to head up the stars…
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