There hasn’t been a post in quite some time, but I ran across this picture and I thought “the uofm basketball world must be reminded”. This was a fun group of guys to watch and Rodney Carney with the big smile mid-play here is just one example of why.
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It’s been a week now since the University of Memphis Tigers were defeated by Arizona in the NCAA tournament’s opening round. When they lost – in the way that they lost – I was heart broken and frustrated. At the same time I was already preparing for next year, and I think it is going to be a great one for tiger fans!
The tigers came out super hot both at the start of the year and specifically in this game versus Arizona. They basically hit every shot they took and played great defense. These were the Tigers that the Memphis fans had been promised at the beginning of the year. It was great, but it was fairly obvious that there was no way it could last, not at that level anyway. And it didn’t. Arizona worked their way back and once they did Memphis slipped into some of its old ways. Joe Jackson made some poor decisions (or executed poorly). Let’s face it, if some of those bad decisions would have resulted in a bucket rather than a turnover we could have called them great plays… but alas they were instead poorly executed in the best case.
There were a couple of possessions that the tigers were all standing around rather than attacking. Then, as had been the case all year, there were some mental let downs and atleast one coaching slip-up.
The main coaching slip up was when the tigers stole the ball on the press in the closing minute and then called timeout. Arizona had no timeouts and obviously had no idea how to break the press. Memphis was still in good position to press and should have kept the pressure on the Arizona players on the floor rather them letting them talk it over in a huddle with their coach. However, overall, I give coach Josh Pastner credit for his run at the end of the year.
I hope we haven’t seen the best Pastner has to offer because I wasn’t impressed with him at all this year. The team never really reached it’s potential, but the fact is that a mostly freshman team with a mostly freshman coach could not be expected to truly reach its potential. I would still gladly trade him for a proven coach who can commit to a lineup and force his players to commit to his game plan, but, we actually might get the result of that trade without having to give up Pastner and all of his good qualities. Pastner is still learning to coach and he’s doing it while trying to lead a group of players who are learning what it takes to play college ball. My suspicion is that he learned a lot this year and if he is half as smart as his fans say then he’ll be able to make adjustments to his style this coming off season. The same is true for the rest of the team and this makes the Tigers a dangerous team for next year.
Congratulations to the tigers for their efforts all year and to Pastner for the same. May everyone continue to improve!