The series between Louisville and Memphis spans some 88 games, with the Cardinals winning 53 of the meetings, so there is obviously some history between the two programs. And Thursday’s meeting didn’t disappoint from a competitive standpoint, with the No. 24 Memphis going on a game-ending 7-0 run to grab the 73-67 victory. Excited about their victory, Memphis’ second over a ranked team this season, the Tigers felt the need to celebrate and that’s their right. “To the victor go the spoils” certainly applies here.
Unfortunately when on the road the home folks aren’t as receptive to such practices, and this reportedly led to an exchange between Memphis head coach Josh Pastner and some Louisville fans who referred to his players as “thugs.” Pastner explained why he reacted to the comments during his post-game press conference according to Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News.
“I think the Louisville fans are tremendous,” Pastner said after making it to the podium. “They’re like Memphis fans; they love their team. The only thing I ever get sensitive on is if anyone says our guys are low-class or anything in that manner. We have a perfect APR score, we graduated 10 guys last year, and our guys have done a great job in the Memphis community. Say I’m the worst coach in the world, say I can’t coach zone, I’m the worst coach, I look like I’m 13, I should be fired, I’m the worst this or I’m the worst that — but the thing that gets to me is our kids. Because we have done a great job. That has been a point of emphasis.”
Obviously it’s difficult to get into details unless you were actually in attendance and watched the scene occur, but this isn’t the first time a visiting coach (or player) has gone word for word with opposing fans and it likely won’t be the last. In this instance, according to Jason Smith of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal, some Louisville fans claimed that Pastner was taunting the crowd and that resulted in the boos and harsh words.
For all the hard feelings that came as a result of whatever occurred at the end of Thursday night’s game, it simply adds fuel to the fire and will likely be discussed when the two teams meet again on March 1 in Memphis.