Memphis loves its Tigers like Green Bay loves it Packers, which is good and bad.
The good is easy. Fan support isn’t a given for college basketball teams, especially when there’s a professional team in town. But the Grizzlies suck and Memphis basketball’s been doing its thing for years, building a loyal fan base that occasionally gets to watch local talent play D-I hoops.
The bad? The expectations. Unless you’re the Cubs, nobody cheers for a loser. Memphis hoops is far from a loser, though. John Calipari elevated the program to new heights during the last years of his tenure and wunderkind coach Josh Pastner’s done his best to maintain that level during his two years there.
This year, his squad’s 8-1 and features some of the best talent in the country. But the locals are getting restless. From Dan Wolken’s blog:
But in a city whose basketball attitude can turn from intense to ungrateful faster than a Joe Jackson crossover, there is indeed unrest amongst the masses. … I am leaving the city of Memphis at the end of this week and moving on to a new journalism venture, but my parting advice would be this: Everybody chill.
Wolken, who covered the Tigers before becoming a Memphis Commercial-Appeal sports columnist earlier this year, isn’t giving Pastner a free pass, he’s just preaching patience. The season’s early, the players are young and Pastner’s still developing as a coach.
It’s an important sentiment (ask Indiana fans about how hard it is being patient) and one Wolken delivers without flinching – the benefit of a parting shot. Memphis may not be Final Four good right now, but give it time. After all, Calipari started out 0-8 against ranked opponents and didn’t beat one until his third season at Memphis.
Want more? I’m also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller.