After a 1-2 weekend at the Battle 4 Atlantis and the establishment of a new media policy that’s been criticized by many writers, the last thing the Memphis Tigers needed was to lose a player ahead of their game on Thursday against UT Martin.
Of course that’s exactly what happened as Jason Smith of the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported that junior forward Tarik Black would miss the game due to what’s been labeled as an “internal matter.”
What’s the issue? That’s a good question, since according to the paper head coach Josh Pastner said that it would be resolved by Friday and declined to discuss whether or not the power forward was considering transferring. Pastner met with Black on Wednesday night before announcing that he would not be playing against the Skyhawks.
“I’m going to give him some time to figure some things out, and this should be resolved by Friday,” Pastner said. “This is nothing regarding the law or any rules broken.”
“I can only say that this internal matter will be resolved by Friday. I’m giving him time to get things figured out.”
Black is averaging 10.6 points and 5.0 rebounds per contest and shooting 65.6% from the field through five games for Memphis, which is off to a 3-2 start. But he like more than a few of his teammates has been inconsistent, and Pastner attempted to address the Tigers’ inconsistency with a three-day “boot camp” following their return from the Bahamas.
The goal of the boot camp was to improve the team’s “mental conditioning” as Pastner defined it, with Memphis failing to make the plays needed to get over the hump down the stretch in games against VCU and Minnesota.
Could it have pushed Black to the point where he needed a little time to figure things out? Was he already at that point? Only Black, considered to be one of the vocal leaders for the Tigers, can provide the answer to that question.
Memphis has the interior bodies needed to navigate a game against UT Martin without the services of Black, provided they show up focused and ready to play, but the Tigers really need the preseason All-Conference USA selection to return with a fresh mindset when looking at the bigger picture that is the entire season.
Simply winning Conference USA and getting to the tournament isn’t going to satisfy a demanding fan base, nor should it.
Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.
GAME OF THE NIGHT: Syracuse vs. No. 18 UConn, 3:30 p.m.
For the first time since the Orange departed the Big East, the two former rivals will square off. Today’s battle will take place at the Battle 4 Atlantis, as the Orange knocked off Charlotte yesterday and the Huskies dispatched Michigan. To get ready for this battle, I’d suggest ready through the conversation @NoEscalators had with himself last night.
THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 25 Texas A&M vs. No. 10 Gonzaga, 1:00 p.m.
The other semifinal in the Battle 4 Atlantis could end up being just as good, as the Aggies — who might be the second best team in the SEC — square off with a Gonzaga team that has one of the best front lines in the country. This will be a good test to figure out just how good both of these teams are.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR
1. No. 20 Wichita State vs. USC, 2:00 p.m.: The Shockers will be without Fred VanVleet for this event. It will also be a chance for us to gauge just how good this 4-0 USC team is.
2. No. 23 Xavier vs. Alabama, 12:00 p.m: The Musketeers should have no problems dispatching Alabama.
3. No. 8 Villanova vs. Stanford, 4:30 p.m.: The Wildcats are, once again, as good as any team in the country. Josh Hart might be the nation’s most underrated star.
4. No. 14 Cal vs. San Diego State, 12:00 a.m.: Tyrone Wallace and company have been awesome this season. They get their first real test of the season tonight.
5. Providence vs. Evansville, 7:00 p.m.: Evansville is one of the nation’s best mid-majors, good enough to give the likes of Wichita State and Northern Iowa a fight in the Missouri Valley. And Providence? They got a kid named Kris Dunn. Heard of him?
THE REST OF THE TOP 25
- No. 3 Michigan State vs. Boston College, 6:30 p.m.
- No. 11 Arizona vs. Santa Clara, 11:30 p.m.
- No. 17 Notre Dame vs. Monmouth, 6:30 p.m.
No. 2 Maryland finally found their rhythm on Wednesday night, blowing out a good Rhode Island team, 86-63, in the finals of the Cancun Challenge.
Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon combined for 34 points and eight assists on 13-for-14 shooting and Robert Carter added 15 points, nine boards, three assists and three blocks. Peak Maryland, which is what we saw tonight, is really dangerous.
But Peak Maryland wasn’t the story after the game, as tempers flared in the waning minutes.
It started when Maryland coach Mark Turgeon called a timeout with less than two minutes remaining. Jake Layman had just hit a three to put Maryland up by 24 points and Turgeon wanted to get his walk-ons in the game. Hurley said to the Maryland bench, “We’ll see you again, boy,” according to Inside Maryland Sports, which prompted this reaction from Turgeon:
After the game, the two teams had to be separated in layup lines. According to reports from IMS and from the Baltimore Sun, Hurley was cursing at Maryland players as he was shaking their hands after the game. According Doug Gottlieb, who called the game for CBS Sports Network, Trimble said that the Rhode Island team wanted to “fight us”: