Category Archives: Memphis Tigers Basketball

Your University of Memphis Tigers

Decisions Decisions Decisions……

 

tigers

 

So the University of Memphis is in search of a new head coach after Josh Pastner took over coaching duties at the Georgia Tech on last Friday. Congratulations to all that made this possible, the fans, the media, constant newspaper articles, even more so after it was decided that he would be here for at least another year. A few weeks ago, the University decided that basically the way that they bank account is set up, they simply couldn’t afford to well, just fire him and leave themselves on the hook for 10.6 million dollars. The only way it could get done was for Josh to take another job and there for he would have forgo the money owed to him. For a while, this is what was believed and it was going to happen, Josh would get another year and everyone would be miserable again and the apathy would continue.  I mean why would Josh take another job and give up all the money? I wouldn’t, maybe I’m not in the position to make that statement but if it were me, I wouldn’t  have left Memphis off the hook by just taking another job because I want my chips with dip. So with all that being said, Josh decided to leave the University without his dip or chips which to me is kind of telling of the situation and atmosphere surrounding the program. In actuality, he will save them a lot of money and that money he saved them, can be used to try to get a big hire.

Memphis is a great job, people here are crazy about basketball and it shows in a big way. The air waves were lit up Friday all over the city, message boards, social media sports groups and personal pages were jumping with Tiger and Josh Pastner conversations. Most opinions were, thank God, our prayers have been answered, glad that clown is gone, he’s ran out program into the ground, good riddance. A few more opinions were a little rougher so I can’t share that here but just know that people definitely take basketball seriously here and rightfully so. I mean Memphis has been tournament 26 times since 1955, 8 sweet 16 berths and has appeared in the Final Four, 3 times. Worth mentioning though, 1982-1986 were vacated as well as 2008. So it’s apparent that we are a powerhouse when it comes to college basketball. That’s the culture that surrounds college basketball in Memphis, we are on the level of Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina, we deserve more than what we have had with Josh.  I thought Josh did an admirable job  here and while not maybe up to our expectations, making the tournament 4 out of 7 years is pretty good. I know, I know, it’s not good enough, I mean, Memphis should be in contention for National Championships right? I mean we have been to so many Final 4s and made so many appearances in the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 that we should be doing that at least once every 2-3 season’s right?

Could things have been better, sure, one would be naïve not to think that way. The transfers, unpredictable starters/rotations are among the many things that fans say were killing the hoop so to speak. Last season, their best player transferred just a month or 2 prior to players beginning summer workouts. A sometimes starter transferred before that (Nick King) to Alabama for unspecified reasons, I mean something has to be going on right? So many players, Kuran Iverson, Dominic Woodson and so many others, some on their own doing but most, probably just couldn’t take it and they left. Josh only cares about himself I’ve heard, he was all about what you could do for him but once you were used up, that was it. I’ve heard all of that along with other things but that would take forever to write that story.  For the most part, Josh did what I thought he would do here, be okay for a while but ultimately, I thought that the expectations placed on him would be his undoing and while it took a little while longer than expected, it happened. I just never saw him not taking his money and just rolling again, odd but it worked out good for Memphis.  In the end, it must have been tough for him and his family and he like anyone else, got tired and decided, it has to be a better place for me than here and when Georgia Tech came calling, he made the move. I remember sitting in the crowd at Memphis games during the season and hearing the things like your horrible Josh around me and that’s cool, everyone has an opinion but a lot of times, I was sitting near Coach Pastner’s wife and his young daughter. The things I heard, you wouldn’t believe I’m sure it made her uncomfortable because it made me feel weird as a man. The culmination of things I’m sure had to weigh heavy and it was just too much to lift.

You may not like my thoughts, you may not agree and that’s fine but here it is any way. It’s win win for us and for him because he gets to go somewhere that doesn’t have so much pressure come with it or as he said in his press conference Friday, be as “intense” as it is here. The jubilation and excitement on twitter was crazy Friday as  I saw former players taking up for Josh, others leaving post of “well well well”  and I will not say his name but all you have to do is look at twitter. If I’m an agent of a coach that maybe looking at the Memphis job, I’m looking at all of it and I’m taking notes. Do I really want this and the atmosphere? Crazy is actually an understatement and it could be a good thing, a coach may say I like that in a city that’s fanatical about it’s  basketball. You better win win win, no matter what or it’s going to be, I knew he couldn’t coach, we should have got this person. People will stop going to games to prove a point as it was pretty obvious this year that they did and the fans to me, not only turned on the coach but the players as well. It’s not about the coach to me, it’s about the student athletes and that’s who I felt the sorriest for this year, the seniors, Shaq Goodwin, Avery Woodson while not technically a senior but he graduated, I felt like this year could have been better support wise. The narrative of his interview in the Commercial Appeal pretty much fit the narrative of fans about the program but he did say some telling things about the fans as well. He mentioned going to away games and having 5 fans there and 3 of them not wanting to be there. He said he saw it go from Memphis Madness to not having it all and said that it was crazy, just watching it unfold. How many times can the players hear, hey guys I’m know I’m fighting for my job every game but it’s about wins without it effecting the psyche of the players at some point?

The coaching hire now begins as the administration said, a national search will be conducted and begin immediately but I will say this, I think Memphis is in a tight spot, who do you hire? You don’t want to get it wrong because well, you can’t afford to.  I suggest they get started because the guy as most indicate seems to be Greg Marshall at Wichita State and all they are doing is giving Wichita’s people a chance to talk to him and maybe possibly try to add more money to his contract. If he’s the guy, try and get your first choice and not your 3rd, 4th or 5th choice like well, Josh. The risk you run taking a little while to search is that you end up with and up and coming coach or an assistant type or maybe a guy who’s trying to repair an image like well,  John Calipari. Marshall would probably kill it here but fans, don’t get your hopes up and don’t get your hopes about Bruce Pearl either. I’ve always thought he was kind of overrated as a coach, Tennessee had a nice team when he was there back a few years ago, I don’t think it was a coincidence that he won with that group. Rah rah, sis boom ba only works for so long and this year he was 11-20 at Auburn so he really doesn’t excite me but hey, whatever floats the boat of those hoping and wishing but who knows, he might take it.I think Memphis ends up with a guy who maybe looking for a fresh start somewhere, maybe a guy like Andy Kennedy. Kennedy, I know has probably exhausted his stay in Oxford and might want to be somewhere else especially in the AAC, a nice conference but not that of the SEC which can be brutal. I could be wrong but we will see but besides Penny and Marshall, who else excites you?

I don’t know how far this goes, I’m just a guy who loves basketball here in the city  but coaching candidates, you better know what you getting into at Memphis and I don’t say it negatively, I say it honestly and without any hesitation. Memphis isn’t for the meek and it’s definitely not for anyone in the Josh mold. Recruiting, you better be able to get it done and you better win and do it fast. They may give you a year since it’s so late in the game for recruiting and all but believe me, that following year, you better be in the tournament. That’s another thing, the new coach, doesn’t have much of a recruiting class as their best recruit (Charlie Moore) decided this wasn’t the place for him once Coach Pastner left on Friday.  The new coach will have the team’s best player back from last year, Dedric and his brother KJ Lawson who will be a freshman again likely after only appearing in 9 games due to injury. He just had surgery and should be back to 100 percent by start of summer workouts. Alongside those two should be sophomore Jeremiah Martin, Markell Crawford who’s been rumored to be possibly on the outs but his status isn’t determined yet and Nick Marshall, who showed flashes of potential. What does Josh leaving now do to Avery Woodson who decided 2 weeks ago to leave? I heard he’s gone irregardless so maybe not much but hey, it’s thought.  Could he come back depending on the coaching hire? What about Penny Hardaway, would he take it?

I’ve been around Penny some, don’t know his thoughts on it but have heard somethings. Bruce Pearl? Hey maybe Penny can be under Pearl on the bench as an assistant, yeah that will work right? I say this to that, for anyone thinking that Penny will be an assistant, I have some beach front property I want to sell you in West Memphis. Do I think he would take the job as the head coach of the program? Yeah maybe so, I mean when you think of Penny, you of think of Memphis basketball. He’s a legend here, he’s revered more than maybe even Elvis Presley and that’s the thing that I don’t ever want to see tarnished. As the Memphis coach, that can happen here especially because the fans are so fickle. Lose a game that you’re not to lose and the nay sayers to Penny will come out on sports talk shows and message boards. The told you so types, see he can’t coach, he just Penny Hardaway and that’s the thing that bothers me about Memphis fans. One minute they love, the next, they hoping you get fired.  Not every Memphis fan is like that so I won’t label all however, a large part would be of that feeling. Larry Finch to me was like Penny back in the day. No, I don’t mean talent wise even though he was a big time player but as fixture of Memphis basketball. He played here, played college ball here, turned down the Lakers to stay in Memphis and play semi pro, and coached the Tigers  and was very successful before being fired a year after making the tournament. The year before that, he made it to the Sweet Sixteen but none of that mattered to fans. He gave his heart and soul to Memphis, had an opportunity to leave Memphis for a job and he stayed. He was Memphis basketball and what were his results? Well, we know how that story ended and I wouldn’t want that for Penny because he’s too good of a guy for that to happen to. Do I think it would be great for the University, yes yes and once again, yes. Penny can coach and he loves Memphis, it would rejuvenate the program, make people want to come back and support the product and give Memphis a big time hire that it surely needs.

Things are going to be interesting for sure though in these next few days, the rumors, the talks and finally the deal but will it be enough?  What if it’s not Marshall, Hardaway, Steve Forbes or Buzz Williams? Will you be upset by it? What if it’s Andy Kennedy or someone like that? What if they have to get an assistant? What if it’s person right up under their nose?  Memphis simply can’t get this wrong,  or it could set the program back even further. Lots of questions will be answered but I’m sure Tiger fans will be watching when the decision is made on the next Tigers basketball coach. To the future head coach of the program, may the force be with you.

 

Memphis: Home of the “Miserables”?

Memphis Head Coach (Josh Pastner)
Memphis Head Coach (Josh Pastner)

 

Memphis is  the home of the best barbecue in the country, home of the blues, Graceland, world famous Beale Street and other attractions that make Memphis unique to his visitors but special to it’s residents. Whenever I go to another state, they always mention man, I heard about that Memphis barbecue, man I have family in Memphis or surrounding areas, when you from here, it just seems to intrigue people but sometimes that can be good and bad depending on perception. Memphis, my city my city but one thing that Memphis is known for is it’s rich history in basketball, that’s right, Memphis is basketball and basketball is king in Memphis. People love it here, young and old, rich and poor, North Memphis, South Memphis to Central Gardens, it relates to everyone here and everyone has an opinion on who? The University of Memphis Tigers program and who’s at the helm of the program, current head coach, Josh Pastner.

You know the story, Coach John Calipari left the University of Memphis in April of 2009 after the begging of it’s fans to please don’t go John. It was a spectacle in Memphis for a few days. private jets flying over his house trying to catch a glimpse of Coach Cal, they gathered around his house, made signs and posters, Coach Cal was like young Michael Jackson in City. What an ego stroke right? These people want me so bad, they brought in the big guns, Fred Jones from Fed Ex and what happened? Cal said Memphis, it’s been real but I gotta go. The I hate Coach Cal mantra was born soon after and just from a few days before it was don’t go to, He can’t coach, he cost us the National Championship game.  They went on to try their luck with several coaches including Mike Anderson (Missouri at the times now Arkansas) Scott Drew (Baylor) and Tim Floyd to once again with no luck. Then after a few days, a young guy was packing up his boxes and heading to Kentucky with Calipari when he was called in and offered the University of Memphis head coaching job. He accepted, the city was thrilled, we finally have a coach after seemingly, no one really wanted this job. You could say, people had their reasons, the soon to be sanctions after Cal left because of test taking allegations (Derrick Rose) or just could have been as easy as, I’m not going to follow up Cal’s success. Logical I guess but never the less, people were not lining up for first or seconds with the Memphis job at the dinner table.

Let’s see, where do I start, oh, I know, you want Josh fired as the Head Coach at Memphis right? Why? Presumably it’s because you think he can’t coach? Is that the only reason? We went 18-14 with all that talent this year, we haven’t been to the sweet 16 in Josh’s tenure? We have only won 1 game against a top 25 opponent in Josh tenure. What type of coach uses flash cards for plays for his team? He a boy wonder coach, he can only recruit, not a great Xs and Os guy. We have too many players transferring, something is going on in the program. Guys are not developing under Josh at all, they stay the same, those are some of the things I hear the most in Memphis when it comes to Tiger basketball.

In the 2009-2010 season,  his first season as coach and at 32 years old, the Tigers went 24-10 with a roster that featured 6 walk ons and since then, he’s compiled a 148-58 record at Memphis. In that first year, the program was still relevant and in the second year, he was able to bring in a great class that was among the top 10 in the country. This year, the Tigers were 18-14 but where with a line up that featured 10 new players to the team after losing 6 players last year. He’s been to the tournament 4 of his 6 years as head coach with a 2-4 record and has as .771 winning percentage which is higher than 3 active hall of fame coaches. He’s among the top 10 of winningest  coaches in NCAA in their first 6 years as coach, not bad I would say for a guy who can’t coach at all according to local fans. What about the great players, what about that first great class he recruited to Memphis with the local guys? Crawford, Black, Joe Jackson, he did nothing with that group. Why are people so quick to say Joe didn’t have a great career at Memphis any way? Is it because he didn’t average 25 like in High School? I know Joe is super talented, watched him for years from 8th grade at Sherwood all the way up but he wasn’t going to averaged 25 anywhere he went to school in the country in college. For people who thought that, I got some swamp land in Mississippi I want to sell you. We didn’t get anything out of those guys, what about the tournament appearances? What about he 106 wins over Joe’s career and Crawford’s and Adonis?Oh I see, well I guess it doesn’t mean anything, he play in a weaker conference but I don’t recall Coach Cal playing in a dynamo of a conference when he was in Conference USA. I will give you this though, Cal did make the tournament 2 times in his first 5 years while Josh had made it 4 straight times before this past year. It’s funny, everyone remembers Cal last few years and take nothing away from them, they were great however what about the first few years?

I recall people wanting to get rid of Cal in Memphis, saying he couldn’t Coach and he coined the term “miserables” for Memphis fans who he just couldn’t satisfy? Is 4 straight years of going to the tournament not good enough for Memphis fans? Do you remember the Tic Price era? How about Johnny Jones? I remember and while I was still a Tiger fan at heart, I hated to see the program struggle mightily those years. I remember those days and I don’t want to go back or even think about that era of basketball for Memphis. Calipari resurrected the program? Sure, he did some great things at Memphis but when the rough got going, Cal got going and he did what he wanted here, made himself relevant again after making the UMASS program go through sanctions behind Marcus Camby allegations among other things. Every time you looked up though, something was happening within the program, players fighting at clubs, domestic situations and other stains on the program but just win right? All that stuff didn’t matter, we were in the elite 8. Josh has run a clean program, you haven’t heard about issues like that since his arrival but wait I know, what about all the transfers? There has to be reason right? Well, maybe but ask yourself this question, how well are those other guys doing who left the program doing or what did they do when they left Memphis. Black is in the league after the same numbers he had at Memphis were repeated in Kansas but he played against Joel Embid right? The number 1 pick in practice every day made Black a league guy, he had better coaching right? Black would have gotten that shot had he been at Memphis, who wouldn’t take a look at a 6’9 265 pound guy who run like a guard and rebounds and plays his role. You would have been a fool not to take a look?  How well is Dominic Woodson doing? How about Jalen Kendrick, not a knock on him but how well is he doing? Iverson was more of detriment to the program I believe than anything. I saw Iverson out a lot and let’s say, he wasn’t making smart decisions in people around him.  Nick King, why he leave, Josh fault? I think Nick actually wanted to stay in Memphis but reasons unknown made him make a decisions to leave the school. Outside of Nick, what other player other than Black is in the league now or what other player has had the kind of success that would make you say, man I sure wish he didn’t transfer. I look at player development as a two way street but I also look at it like this, producing is the name of the game. When you producing, you don’t hear about coaching, I think guys are quick to lay blame when their play doesn’t back up their reputation. You think a coach recruits a player who he thinks can’t contribute at the D-1 level.? I think a lot of people locally have made excuses for players in the past and have looked for a scape goat and that scape goat has been Josh unfortunately for him but someone has to be the blame right? I mean guys are not getting better even though you have full access to a facility all year long and have the opportunity to get better by working individually. We have had to much talent not to have at least made the Sweet 16 right? Looks at Cal team this year, based on talent, he should have won it, the guy had 10 pros and they didn’t win it all. Talent is great to have but that talent must produce as well.

While we haven’t gone to a sweet 16, elite 8, I say Josh has had success in Memphis and while the blue bloods will always get what they get, Josh could be on his way to that esteem. I’m not saying he’s the next great coach, I’m not saying he’s great for Memphis but I do believe that he’s done the best he can do. I’m also of the thinking that Josh might be in his last year or 2 at Memphis. I think if he does well next year with this class and they go to the sweet 16, I think another opportunity might come along and with the scrutiny here in Memphis with people constantly wanting to see you go, I’m sure he would think about it, wouldn’t you? If he has a rough year next year, what happens? I don’t have to tell you if you really keep up with the program which I’m sure you do if you reading this. I like the look of next year team, I just think that could be great group and he could be in for his best season yet but that’s a look into the future but hey why not, I mean we are Memphis fans, we love all things Memphis right? Me personally, I’m rooting for him to succeed not only cause I like his character but I also would like to see him prove the doubters wrong and while you can’t please everyone, you can say hey, I did it my way and on my on terms.

 

Memphis Fans, Are You Happy?

Ricky Tarrant (New Memphis Guard)

By now, I’m sure everyone knows that the Memphis Tigers have landed Ricky Tarrant, a 6’2 guard who played against the Tigers a few years back with Tulane before transferring to Alabama and sitting out a year playing really well against SEC competition averaging points per game before going down to injury. Is this a good move to me? I can’t say the word that I want to say but let’s just YES, it’s a great move for Memphis. They needed another guard because let’s face it, Kedren Johnson is not going to be a Tiger next year, take it how you want to take it. Jeremiah Martin has committed, they picked up a senior transfer guard who’s going to want to play minutes and a guard who performed well in the SEC. Well, you may say, well Kedren Johnson played well at Vandy too right however, Tarrant hasn’t sat around eating wings and things for a year and a half. It’s no knock to Kedren hey, I might have done the same but I also don’t play basketball as a means for my education so, yeah I may eat a few wings from time to time. Looking at some statistics, I don’t believe he is the best shooter from 3 or a great shooter period however, he was solid enough to average 13 per game and 16 per game with Tulane. I think he gives them a veteran leader who’s been through some wars, adversity and is still persistent in doing what’s necessary in order to produce on the floor as he did last season.

Now my question is, Memphis fans are you happy about this move? Some I’ve seen on twitter, facebook and message boards seem to not be to  fond of this. Man, why are we getting a guard, we need a big. Why not get a high school guard that you will have for 4 years? Then during the season when  Martin might struggle some early adjusting, why in the … didn’t we get a quality guard to back up Jeremiah? With Jeremiah in the fold to go along with Markell who will still be a sophmore I do believe, you needed another guard and one who has played to go along with those two to easy over the transition year for Jeremiah. Even with Markell being able to play that spot some, still, you needed another and Tarrant fits that bill for Memphis. Why didn’t we get a big? We need a big hefty center and I say well maybe but in that area, I think they are fine and here is why, the Tigers didn’t get killed  by big guys last year with the exception of SMU forward Markus Kennedy and you add in Dedric Lawson who is a stretch 4 who rebounds exceptionally well and you still have Shaq Goodwin and Austin Nichols who averaged 14 rebounds between them and KJ Lawson who will play some 2-3 but is also a high level rebounder. If they add a post guy, it might make them better but I do believe the Tigers will be fine in that area of rebounding and both Nichols who was third in the country in block shots and Dedric are rim protectors who both have great timing.

Again, Memphis fans, are you happy or do you think well Tarrant is just a stop gap? Is getting Tarrant a ploy in the hopes that Josh still thinks he can get Jaylen Fisher from Bolton High School? Is that why he went with Tarrant over guys like Marcus Lovett out of Georgia or Tookie Brown? Fisher would fit perfect I believe with a guard like Martin and Crawford but maybe that’s looking into the future too much because right now, I wouldn’t say Fisher is a Tigers lean but that’s another story. I think it was nice pick up for Memphis who now could be considered a top 25 type team for the upcoming season. I know I know, we have seen this movie before right? Top 25 pre-season right, the hype, we don’t need that but maybe it’s what this city needs, to feel excitement about the Tigers after an up and down year last year. I don’t know what to expect from Tarrant as a player, on paper and video he looks legit but one thing I can say, next year might turn into one of the most anticipated seasons since Josh became head coach at the University Of Memphis.