Josh Pastner

The Memphis-Tennessee rivalry may be back on … that was quick

Leave a comment

Remember all that talk about Memphis ending their rivalry with Tennessee?

We wrote about it this morning. We would have written about it again tomorrow. Memphis talk radio has been dominated by the subject the past couple of days.

Why was it ending?

Because Josh Pastner finally had an athletic director that sided with him, that believed playing Tennessee was not in the best interest of the Memphis basketball program.

Apparently not:

University of Memphis athletic director Tom Bowen said Thursday he and Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart are in discussions about continuing the basketball series between the programs. The contract ends with Friday night’s game in Knoxville.

“We are re-evaluating everything,” Bowen said, calling it “important” to play the Volunteers.

Bowen’s plan must have been a surprise to Tigers basketball coach Josh Pastner. On Wednesday, Pastner said that he and Bowen “both see eye to eye” on ending the Memphis-UT series.

In case that’s unclear, the Memphis AD let his head coach go on and on and on about how a series with an in-state rival was going to end only to go behind his back and try to renegotiate a deal with the school to keep them on the schedule. This isn’t the first time that’s happened, either.

Pastner, to his credit, has apparently bought in, saying on the Gary Parrish Show that he “believes in chain of command. I will always back my boss.” That’s smart. You don’t want to bash the guy that signs your paychecks publicly.

“I have probably evolved from that,” Pastner said of the theory that playing Tennessee could hurt the Tiger’s recruiting in the city of Memphis. “Early on I took the same stance as Calipari. The facts are that I’ve been a head coach here for four years. Two of my classes were top five in the country. The other two, we only needed to get a couple guys. … We’re recruiting at the very very highest level. I think through time, that’s evolved, and I don’t think it makes that much of a difference.”

“Recruiting’s cutthroat. You don’t want to give anyone any leg up.”

But you have to figure that next time, Pastner would appreciate a heads-up from his boss that he will be going over his head.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Creighton lands 2016 combo guard

Greg McDermott
Associated Press
Leave a comment

Sunday evening Creighton got on the board in the Class of 2016, as 6-foor-4 combo guard Davion Mintz made his pledge to Greg McDermott’s program. Mintz made the decision on the tail end of his official visit to Creighton, picking the Bluejays over Georgia Tech, Kansas State, Tulsa and Wichita State.

News of Mintz’s commitment was first reported by Rick Lewis of the Phenom Hoop Report, with Mintz confirming the news via Twitter shortly thereafter.

Creighton has just two seniors on its current roster in guard Jams Milliken and forward Geoffrey Groselle, but that doesn’t mean they lack for experience. Among the guards on the roster who will be around when Mintz arrives on campus are redshirt juniors Maurice Watson Jr., Malik Albert, and Isaiah Zierden, and Kansas State transfer Marcus Foster will be eligible in 2016-17.

Mintz, who attends North Mecklenberg HS just outside of Charlotte, can play either on or off the basketball. Creighton’s veteran guards should help Mintz with his transition to the college game when he arrives in Omaha in 2016. Mintz played for the Charlotte Nets grassroots program this summer.

Three-star power forward commits to WVU

Bob Huggins
Associated Press
Leave a comment

Three days after landing one power forward in Sagaba Konate, West Virginia received a verbal commitment from another big man Sunday evening.

6-foot-11 Mountain Mission School (Gurndy, Virginia) power forward Maciej Bender became the Mountaineers’ fourth commitment in the Class of 2016 on Sunday, with the Mountain Mission program announcing the news via Twitter. Bender is a native of Poland, and in addition to Konate he joins guards Brandon Knapper and Chase Harler in West Virginia’s 2016 recruiting class.

West Virginia will lose two forwards in TyQuane Goard and Jonathan Holton at the end of the 2015-16 season, and the additions of Konate and Bender will help the Mountaineers account for those departures from a depth standpoint. Bender can score around the basket, but he’s also capable of facing up and scoring in pick-and-pop situations out beyond the three-point line.

Bender officially visited West Virginia last weekend, and he was a player the WVU coaching staff wanted to get in the fold. Other programs to offer Bender included Arizona State (teammate Jethro Tshisumpa is an ASU commit), Georgia, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss and Providence. Bender played his grassroots basketball for the West Virginia Wildcats program this summer.