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.