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.

Knee injury temporarily sidelines Memphis assistant

Toronto Raptors vs Charlotte Hornets
Associated Press
Leave a comment

With practices beginning this weekend, not only are players looking to avoid the injury bug but their coaches are as well. And in the case of Memphis, the Tigers won’t have one of their assistants on the court for a little while due to a knee injury.

Assistant coach Damon Stoudamire, who returned to Josh Pastner’s staff this summer after a two-year stint at Arizona, suffered the injury during a recent workout according to L. Jason Smith of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. And Stoudamire will require surgery, which will put him on the shelf for a little bit.

“He was working out himself and I think he thought he was in his rookie year,” Pastner said. “We think he’s got a torn meniscus, which will require surgery and put him out for a couple of days.”

Stoudamire isn’t the only assistant coach working through pain either. Syracuse’s Mike Hopkins, who is also Jim Boeheim’s heir apparent as head coach, suffered a neck injury body surfing during a family vacation last month. Hopkins spent some time in a neck brace while putting players through workouts as a result of the injury.

As for the Tigers, they’ll have a mixture of experience on the perimeter and youth in the front court as they look to get back to the NCAA tournament after missing out last season. Among the newcomers are talented forwards Dedric and K.J. Lawson, with experienced guards such as Kedren Johnson, Trahson Burrell and Ricky Tarrant (grad transfer from Alabama) expected to be key contributors on the perimeter.

Duke figuring out approach for this season

Duke University head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski speaks with the media about the Blue Devils' 2013-14 basketball season, Wednesday, March 26, 2014, in Durham, N.C. (Chuck Liddy/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT via Getty Images)
Leave a comment

Duke is coming off of a national championship but the roster will look almost completely different for the 2015-16 season. That means last season’s approach to things on the offensive and defensive end will have to change and head coach Mike Krzyzewski mentioned to reporters on Friday how the Blue Devils are still figuring some things out.

“We’re putting in a different offensive system, to personalize it for these guys,” Krzyzewski said to reporters. “And a different defensive system so that we can max out on the talents that they have.

“We’re really proud of our team. I think we’re going to be a really good team.”

Without Jahlil Okafor in the middle, Duke’s offense could shift to a mostly perimeter-oriented team, as the wing and guard depth is superior for this year’s group.  Coach K and his staff making adjustments to schemes to fit personnel is a nice move from the Hall of Famer, as he’s done a better job in recent years of making adjustments like this after his stint with USA Basketball.

As the program moves on from Okafor, Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow and Quinn Cook, it’ll be intriguing to see who emerges as a potential go-to offensive player early in the season and how Duke’s offense potentially evolves as the season wears on.