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Josh Pastner will be more than just a recruiter. Give him time.

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It’s official: Memphis head coach Josh Pastner is an elite recruiter.

Not that there was much doubt heading into this summer. His first recruiting class (the Class of 2010) with the Tigers included three five-star recruits and two four-star recruits. He landed three kids from Memphis (Joe Jackson, Chris Crawford and Tarik Black), a top ten player from Baltimore (Will Barton) and a McDonald’s all-american from Georgia (Jelan Kendrick). He brought in another five-star Memphis native (Adonis Thomas) in 2011, and followed that up by landing Shaquille Goodwin, Damien Wilson and Geron Johnson this year while managing to convince both Jackson (transfer) and Thomas (NBA Draft) to stay at Memphis.

His 2013 recruiting class could end up being the most impressive of his tenure. As of now, he has four top 100 recruits in line to enroll at Memphis next fall — Nick King, Markel Crawford, RaShawn Powell and Kuran Iverson, a skilled, 6-foot-9 small forward from Connecticut that ranks in the top 30 nationally and committed on Tuesday.

King and Crawford are from Memphis, Powell is from Florida and Iverson is from up in Big East country, which means that not only is Pastner able to tap into the faucet of talent in his own backyard, he’s now proving he can go and get players on a national scale.

So where are the wins?

That 75-29 overall record is nice until you consider that it has come during a stretch where Memphis should be far and away the best basketball program in Conference USA. John Calipari had more than half that many in the 2008 season that was wiped off the books. He also went his final three years with the Tigers without losing a conference game. Pastner is 36-12 in his first three years with one league title and a pair of tournament titles.

Again, that’s good, but given the talent he has at his disposal and the talent level of Conference USA, I think it’s fair to say those results are somewhere in the ‘mediocre to solid’ range.

The number that is more frustrating to Memphis fans is zero. As in, the number of NCAA tournament wins Pastner has in his first two seasons with the Tigers. There are plenty of programs and coaches that would be ecstatic with two straight NCAA tournament appearances. No one in Memphis things they fall under that umbrella.

Criticism of Pastner’s coaching ability is fair. But there are a couple things that need to be kept in mind before doing so:

He’s young: Pastner took over this program as a 32 year old first-time head coach. The same way that a hot-shot, rookie point guard needs time to learn how to run an NBA team, Pastner needs time to develop his ability to coach a team. In-game adjustments, perfecting a system, game-planning, motivational pregame speeches, everything. Pastner’s been training himself to be a head coach since he was a walk-on on Arizona’s 1997 national title team, but “training” and “doing” are two different things. This may be the last year where it’s ok to say that he deserves the benefit of the doubt, but … Pastner still deserves the benefit of the doubt.

He didn’t start with much: The Tigers were an NIT team in Pastner’s first season, but where would they have been without Eliot Williams? If you’ve forgotten, Williams transferred out of Duke and was granted immediate eligibility at Memphis due to a health issue of a family member. He was a first round pick that averaged 17.9 points and 3.8 assists. Without him, do the Tigers make the postseason? With Wesley Witherspoon, Roburt Sallie, Doneal Mack and Willie Kemp? I’m not so sure.

He’s getting better: In 2010-2011, Pastner had a team full of 18 and 19 year-olds playing for their hometown team in city that idolizes high school and college hoopers. Getting that group to come together and make a run through the league tournament and earn an at-large bid — they finished fourth in regular season play — was impressive. What was more impressive was what he did with last season’s Memphis team. After 11 games, the Tigers were 6-5 and coming off of a hideous performance against Georgetown in Washington DC. I wrote this about them at that point. There were Memphis fans calling for Pastner’s job. And all they did the rest of the year was win 20 of their last 23 games and head into the NCAA tournament as a trendy sleeper pick to make a run.

Those tournament losses were bad breaks: Down by two with five seconds left in the game, Wesley Witherspoon had his shot blocked by Derrick Williams on a play that very easily could have been called a foul. That’s how close the Tigers were to going to overtime. In the 2012 tournament, Memphis caught a terrible break by drawing an eight seed and getting matched up with a very good St. Louis team that matched up with the Tigers perfectly. Bad luck is not an excuse, but eventually Memphis will catch a break.

Memphis has a veteran group this season with a head coach that is coming into his own. So be patient, Memphis fans. You’re in good hands as your team makes the transition to the Big East. And given the way that last season ended, you may not even need to wait until you make that jump for your NCAA tournament run.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Under Armour Elite 24 features some must-see stars

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The newly re-branded Elite 24 all-star game tips at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday (ESPNU) and is sponsored by Under Armour, having taken the game’s reins from Boost Mobile. The contest is unique in that August is usually a quiet month for high school stars, having been put through a grueling July evaluation period. The first year of Under Armour at the helm of the game is notable for a great crop of incoming senior and underclass stars, as well as NBA player coaching staffs.

The game has been a high-flying, dunk-filled affair in the past, and this year’s edition is expected to be no different, despite the late scratch from the game of Baltimore star Aquille Carr, due to his recent arrest. As always, with a game featuring young players on national television, defense will be at a minimum. This event is also a measuring stick for selection to the McDonald’s All-American game, as it should be accessible for all voters to view.

The Raymond Lewis team, coached by young NBA stars Brandon Jennings and Derrick Williams, has a devastating quartet from Texas as its headline players. With three of the top five seniors in guards Andrew and Aaron Harrison and power forward Julius Randle, as well as elite junior point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, Jennings has some terrific Lone Star State talent at his disposal. Keep an eye on glue guy Rondae Jefferson, and another high-flying Texas forward Justise Winslow. Also, expect hometown SoCal talents guard Isaac Hamilton and center Marcus Lee to put on a show for local fans.

Kemba Walker and DeAndre Jordan’s Marques Johnson squad took a hit in losing Carr, and doesn’t have the top to bottom star power that Jennings’ team has. Still, the land’s best high school basketball player, Andrew Wiggins, will have the opportunity to put on a show in front of a nationwide audience, and top 5 senior talent Aaron Gordon will have his chance to prove that he has completed his transition to small forward, and shaken off the effects of a spring injury. Keep an eye on mismatch forward Kuran Iverson, who was solid during the summer, and junior Chris Paul-clone Tyus Jones could demonstrate he is the best pure point guard nationally.

The festivities start on Thursday with what should be an at least entertaining dunk contest, with the participants still to be announced. ESPN’s selection team put together two very talented an intriguing rosters, who should have the opportunity to demonstrate their considerable talents against some big names.

Fans of Kansas (Conner Frankamp and Brannen Greene), Syracuse (Tyler Ennis), Washington (Nigel Williams-Goss) and North Carolina (Nate Britt) can get a glimpse into their futures, as they have players that have made non-binding verbal commitments participating in the game. Also, expect UCLA and possibly other programs to benefit from the game’s location with unofficial visits by some of the game’s participants.

Kellon Hassenstab runs Hoopniks.com. Follow him on Twitter @hoopniks.

The Morning Mix

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– Mic Cronin got reprimanded by the NCAA for disparaging remarks he made to officials during the Bearcats NCAA tournament loss to Ohio State. Seriously? Don’t all coaches curse at officials? What am I missing?

– The Eye on CBball fellas continue to roll out their coaching survey results. How much influence does “World Wide Wes” have? They got your answers

– Trey Lyles decommitted from Indiana. It might not seem like a big deal now, but Indiana’s 2014 recruiting class isn’t looking as hot as it once was

Robbie Hummel is headed to Europe. This is strange because unlike most Europe-bound hoopsters, Robbie Hummel actually got drafted

– Former Virginia Tech guard Allen Chaney will take his talents to High Point

– This is the most in-depth view you will ever see of what Kentucky’s Olympic roster would look like

Having finished rehabilitation for an ACL tear, Marshawn Powell is ready to return to the court for Alabama

– Having made a 7,000-mile road trip across the country, I can attest that a six-hour trek is a “driveable” away game

– ESPN released their schedule of GameDay games and Rush The Court decided to rank them

Marquette reported a self-violation to the NCAA yesterday on behalf of the men’s basketball program

– UConn got a bit of good news on Thursday, as highly regarded  2013 recruit Kentan Facey committed to the University

– While UNLV head coach Dave Rose was hauling in big-time recruits this off-season, returning big-men Carlos Lopez and Quintrell Thomas were putting in hard work on the hardwood

– LIU-Brooklyn’s best player, reigning NEC PoY Julian Boyd, is a Texas native. The team’s top guard, Jason Brickman, is also a Texas native. In fact, a good portion of the Blackbirds’ squad calls Texas “home”, including freshman D.J. Griggs and E.J. Reed

– Kansas’ sophomore Ben McLemore is poised for a huge season, but a nagging groin injury is currently keeping him out of the Jayhawks exhibition games in  Switzerland

– I will pay $50 to anyone who can point me towards a direct source of this t-shirt

 

Remember, if you are on Twitter and you find something that’s worthy of a mention in The Morning Mix, use the hashtag #ReadoftheDay

Troy Machir is the managing editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @TroyMachir.

 

Purdue opens Italy trip with an emphatic 80-38 win over All Star Italy

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With Robbie Hummel, Lewis Jackson and Ryne Smith all moving on, this is a good summer for the Purdue Boilermakers to embark on an off-season trip.

The opportunities afforded head coach Matt Painter and his team, be it the extra practices, games or team bonding time, are things the Boilermakers hope pay off with another NCAA tournament appearance.

Purdue played the first of four games during their trip to Italy on Thursday, and it’s safe to say that they’re off to a good start.

Freshman guard Raphael Davis led Purdue with 15 points and redshirt freshman forward Donnie Hale posted a double-double (11 points, 11 rebounds) as the Boilermakers whipped All Star Italy 80-38 in Rome.

Purdue was balanced offensively, with Davis and Hale being the lone double-figure scorers with four other players scoring either eight (D.J. Byrd, Anthony Johnson and Sandy Marcius, who grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds) or nine points (Terone Johnson).

Byrd and Terone Johnson were also two of the three Purdue players to tally three assists, and as a team Purdue shot 49% from the field and 5-for-11 from beyond the arc.

Freshman big man A.J. Hammons led the way with six rebounds, and a 14-1 run after the game got off to a 9-9 start removed any doubt.

While the results of these games are important (they wouldn’t keep score if the results weren’t), trips like this one are more about role definition and team chemistry.

According to Ken Pomeroy’s numbers the Boilermakers ranked eighth nationally in offensive efficiency (116.7) and first in turnover percentage, as they handed the ball over on just 13.6% of their possessions.

But that was with the aforementioned experienced hands leading the way.

Byrd and Terone Johnson are the two returnees with the highest possession percentages according to Pomeroy’s numbers, but they’re unlikely to be offensive weapons that Purdue makes the focal point of their attack.

For that reason, the play of Davis and Hale during this trip is something that Purdue fans should keep an eye on from an offensive standpoint.

Defensively the Boilermakers sat in the bottom half of the Big Ten in most major statistical categories, so while the level of competition in their Italy opener may be questioned they’re at least off to a good start there.

Next up for Purdue is a game against Atletas Kaunas, which will be played on Sunday in Montecatini.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Despite being drafted into NBA, former Purdue forward Robbie Hummel headed to Spain

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Former Purdue forward Robbie Hummel has decided to take his professional career overseas, signing with El Obradoiro of Spain’s top professional league, the Lafayette Courier Journal is reporting.

Hummel had been drafted 58th overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2012 NBA Draft, but worked out an agreement that allows him to go to Europe.

“It is a done deal,” Hummel told the paper. “I am heading over to Spain. I’m excited. The Timberwolves and myself both agreed that it’s probably best for me to go overseas for a year.

“(The Timberwolves) have a lot of forwards on the team, but I still think the Timberwolves are my future.”

During his career at Purdue, Hummel tore his ACL twice, battling back both times and averaging 16.4 points and 7.2 rebounds per game this past season as a senior.

The Indiana native leaves Purdue ninth on the school’s all-time scoring list, as well as fourth on the all-time rebounding list.

As for his former team, they are currently in Italy for an overseas trip. The team recently visited the Vatican and is preparing for the 2012-13 season after finishing 22-13 this past year.

The Boilermakers welcome four Indiana natives to the team in 2012-13, led by Oak Hill (Va.) center A.J. Hammons.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

UConn, Washington now have tip time for Dec. 29 game

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Just one day after releasing their Pac-12 conference slate, Washington now knows when they’ll play Connecticut for just the fourth time in the history of both programs.

The battle of the Huskies, which was set for December 29, will tip at 7:30 PM on ESPN2 according to a release from the University of Washington.

The only question now is where the game will be played: on the Storrs campus at Gampel Pavilion, or in downtown Hartford at the XL Center?

(Hopefully they play the game on campus, even if there are more seats that can be filled at the XL Center.)

The Siberian (that would be UConn’s breed of husky) holds a 3-0 edge over the Alaskan Malamute, with two of those wins being highly entertaining NCAA tournament affairs.

Rashad Anderson’s three in the final seconds of regulation sent the 2006 Sweet 16 meeting to overtime, which UConn would go on to win by the final score of 98-92.

That contest turned on a double technical assessed to Rudy Gay (UConn) and Brandon Roy (Washington), with the Pac-10 Player of the Year picking up his fourth foul as a result.

But it’s their first meeting, which took place in the 1998 East Regional semis in Greensboro, that offered one of the great finishes in NCAA tournament history.

In case you were wondering, the middle meeting was a 69-48 UConn win in the old Great Eight event in Chicago during the 1998-99 season.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.