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October 29, 2013

TSR Kicks Off Pre-Season Hoops Preview with a Look at Josh Pastner

Preseason previews have been written about the 2013-'14 Memphis Tigers basketball team, but in our eyes, they've been generic, uninformative or (in some cases) downright wrong and misleading. That just won't do.

So we here at TigerSportsReport.com decided to write the ultimate preview of Josh Pastner and his 2013-'14 Tigers. It is lengthy, so we'll get it started today and run an installment per day until it's done.

How long is it? Well, we're taking the position that it takes whatever it takes. But it will likely be five (5) sections. Each section is very detailed and meticulous. Once the series is complete, fans might wish to compile all the info into one handy reference document. You'll need premium access in order to do that but we feel it will be worth your time to do so.

Part One, fittingly enough, focuses on head coach Josh Pastner.

Pastner heads into the most critical year of his tender coaching career. On the one hand, most of the rabid fan base seems to be thrilled with the sideline general's first four years at the helm at Memphis. He has pulled in some of the biggest name recruits in the country during his tenure: Will Barton, Kuran Iverson, Joe Jackson, Jelan Kendrick, Austin Nichols, Adonis Thomas and Dominic Woodson being the most prominent on that list. Elliot Williams transferred in from Duke to play one year at home.

On the other hand, the results haven't always been what the fans expected. Of the kids who have played for him here at Memphis, only Barton and Williams have gone on to secure NBA contracts so far. Jackson's professional fate remains to be seen, Kendrick washed out due to problems of his own making (though he, too, is in his senior year in college and could yet make a name for himself at UNLV) and Thomas was cut by the Atlanta Hawks. Iverson, Nichols and Woodson are members of the ballyhooed Class of 2013, generally conceded to be either the #2 or #3 class in the country behind consensus #1 Kentucky and either ahead of or behind the stellar class at Kansas. (For my money, the Memphis class is #2, though I know that statement will appear to be biased). Pastner has seen several of his players head overseas to play for at least a season or two: Will Coleman was an all-star in Greece last year, Pierre Henderson-Niles spent a couple of years in China (semi-retired right now), Willie Kemp and Doneal Mack regularly play in Europe and D.J. Stephens is in Europe right now, as well.

It is unfortunate that head coaches are often judged strictly by how many of their players turn pro, which league those pros play in, and what round the NBA draftees are selected in. Pastner has gone 106-34 in 4 years at Memphis (an average of 26.5 wins and 8.5 losses) and has increased his win total every single season, from 24 to 25, 26 and 31. The 31 win season in 2013 was only the sixth 30+ win campaign in U of M basketball history. Throw in his perfect APR score three (3) years running plus an impeccable graduating rate--everyone in his first class has already graduated, except for Will Barton and Kendrick--and even critics should acknowledge the remarkable job Pastner has done.

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