Saturday, March 17, 2012

Next Year

I knew there was a problem when I read this interview. These coaches and players believed the hype. They think they are better than they really are. Josh Pastner is quoting John Calipari as if he was already in the "Final Four". He took Rick Majerus and the Saint Louis players for granted. He better hope his career isn't based on his record in March. It would be real short. Will Barton was looking beyond the task at hand. This was not the time to put the fate of the team in the hands of the other players. Instead of crying about the calls to the referees and getting in squabbles with his teammates. He needed to stand up and take the game over. He isn't Kobe Bryant or Phil Jackson. We could have used them both. Neither one showed up. Come back next year and get it right.


Blogger Common said...

Analysis: C-USA titles pale in light of Memphis Tigers' lofty expectations

However it's framed, the underlying picture of the University of Memphis' 2011-12 season is one of disappointment.

Overshadowing the dramatic turnaround it made in winning 20 of its last 24 games and going to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years under coach Josh Pastner are the unfulfilled expectations of a team that began the season ranked among the nation's elite.

Simply getting to the Dance -- where Memphis lost its opening game for the second straight season -- wasn't what this team had envisioned since last March after a two-point loss to Arizona in the second round of last year's NCAA Tournament left it eagerly determined to advance further this season.

This was supposed to be the year Memphis, with a roster stocked with talent and a head coach who became one of college basketball's top earners last March when he signed a five-year, $1.7-million-per-year contract extension, re-established itself as a national-title contender.

Instead, it stumbled out to a 6-5 start and, in doing so, dropped out of the national rankings by mid-December.

The Tigers failed to beat a top-25 opponent for the third straight season, falling to 0-10 under Pastner against top-25 competition.

Ultimately, it was their lack of a marquee win this season that resulted in the Tigers earning a No. 8 seed in this year's tournament and drawing a tough second-round matchup with No. 9-seeded Saint Louis, which neutralized Memphis' superior talent by baiting it into playing as individuals.

In the end, a group that appeared to finally appreciate the importance of playing as a team while going 20-3 after a Dec. 22 loss at Georgetown had reverted back to its previous bad habits of finger pointing and bickering.

As impressive of a job as Pastner did in pulling the team back together after its December loss to Georgetown, all of it had become undone after a few missed shots against Saint Louis, indicating this team hadn't come nearly as far, particularly mentally, as its on-court success over the last 21/2 months of the season suggested.

Yes, Memphis won its first Conference USA regular-season title under Pastner and its second straight C-USA Tournament title.

But it was expected to do that, and will be again next season in its final year as a member of C-USA.

And though this Tigers team was as good statistically as some of the best in program history, the seasons of upper-echelon programs aren't judged on statistical data.

Fair or unfair, they are judged by NCAA tournament success, and this Memphis team failed in that department.

Individually, however, some players were better than others.

So with that in mind, here are our individual players/coaches grades for the Tigers' 2011-12 season, which wrapped up at 26-9 on Friday in Columbus, Ohio, with a 61-54 NCAA Tournament second-round loss to Saint Louis:


9:54 PM  
Blogger Common said...


Players (in numerical order, excluding walk-ons)

Jr. F Ferrakohn Hall -- Hall started 23 of the Tigers' final 24 games and was playing his best basketball in the final week of the season. Though his presence helped free up fellow big man Tarik Black on both ends, Hall wasn't consistent enough with his production, averaging 3.7 points and 2.9 rebounds after becoming eligible in mid-December. Grade: C

So. G Joe Jackson -- It was an up and down year for Jackson, who considered transferring in December out of frustration with his role. By the end of the year, however, he appeared to embrace his duties as a floor general, averaging 5.5 assists over the final eight games while being named C-USA Tournament MVP for the second straight season. Grade: B-

So. G Antonio Barton -- Though his 3-point shooting numbers dipped from last season (from 44.2 percent to 40), Barton remained a steady presence for Memphis when he was in the lineup despite playing nearly three fewer minutes per game than last year. He did start 19 games, giving Memphis a solid backcourt option when Jackson was struggling. Grade: B

So. G Chris Crawford -- Crawford started 24 games this season, leading Memphis in assists (134) and steals (63) while dramatically improving his shooting numbers from 32.9 percent as a freshman to 43.1 percent this season. He made a team-high 51 3-pointers and ranked second on the team in blocked shots (27). Other than Will Barton, no Memphis player improved more from last season than Crawford. Grade: B+

Sr. G Charles Carmouche -- After starting the first four games of the year, Carmouche played in just three more games due to a combination of suspension and injury (tendinitis). Carmouche never returned after Memphis' Jan. 4 game against Tennessee despite the fact he was cleared to play by team doctors. Grade: D

So. G Will Barton -- Though he was awful in the loss to Saint Louis, Barton had an All-American-type season, averaging 18 points on 50.9 percent shooting and eight rebounds per game. The C-USA Player of the Year registered 11 double-doubles -- the most by a Tigers player since 2002-03 -- and his 631 points this season were the most scored by a sophomore in Tigers history. Grade: A

So. F Tarik Black -- Black couldn't stay out of foul trouble to start the season, but turned it around by January, scoring in double figures in 13 of Memphis' final 22 games. The All-C-USA second-team and All-Defensive team selection shattered the Tigers' single-season record for field-goal percentage (68.9) and led Memphis in blocks (53). He still needs to improve his rebounding numbers (4.9 rpg). Grade: B

Sr. F Wesley Witherspoon -- After starting the Tigers' first eight games of the season, Witherspoon was assigned the task of role player and backup power forward. To his credit, he didn't complain, and by the end of the season was playing as hard as any of his teammates. Witherspoon finished his Tigers career with 993 points. His 1.5 steals per game ranked fourth in C-USA. Grade: B-

Jr. F D.J. Stephens -- Stephens did an admirable job of filling in as Black's backup at the 5 position despite the fact he's just 6-foot-5, 187 pounds and suffers from asthma. Playing 8.3 minutes per game, Stephens ranked fourth on the team in blocks (21) and his high-rising dunks usually sent a welcomed jolt of energy through the rest of the team. Grade: A

Jr. F Stan Simpson -- Simpson was a complete disappointment, averaging 1.6 points and 1.3 rebounds in 30 games played. The 6-10 junior-college transfer had his chance, starting four straight games that included a 7-point, 10-rebound, 5-cont:block performance against Jackson State. But he was far too soft for his size, so much so that Stephens eventually took his spot as the backup 5. Grade: F


10:05 PM  
Blogger Common said...


Fr. F Adonis Thomas -- Thomas was just rounding into form in January when he rolled his ankle in practice and elected to have surgery that sidelined him for 15 straight games. He showed flashes of brilliance (registering a season-high 19 points vs. Tennessee in Maui and a season-high 10 rebounds at Miami-Fla.), but his season and the potential difference he could have made for this team were derailed by the injury. Grade: I (incomplete)

R-Fr. F Hippolyte Tsafack -- Tsafack played just three minutes per game and wasn't really given an opportunity to work himself into the rotation. Grade: I


Josh Pastner -- Pastner became the first coach in Memphis history to win two conference tournament titles in his first three seasons and just the second Memphis coach to advance to the NCAA Tournament in two of his first three seasons (the other was Larry Finch). His 75 wins are the most by a Memphis coach in his first three seasons. So there's that. However, the reality is this team underachieved this season. Sure, Memphis played great after the Christmas break, but it had the talent to be better than a one-and-done finish in the NCAA Tournament. Grade: C

Jack Murphy -- Murphy was charged with overseeing a Memphis defense that held opponents to 38.6-percent shooting, the fourth-best mark in Tigers history. The Tigers ranked among the national leaders in blocked shots per game and first in C-USA in steals. Murphy's name is now being mentioned as a possible candidate for the head coaching job at Northern Arizona. Grade: B+

Damon Stoudamire -- Stoudamire handled a Memphis offense that entered the NCAA Tournament ranked No. 5 in the nation in field-goal percentage. Memphis finished the season shooting 49.1 percent, the eighth-best single-season mark in school history. Unfortunately, it had arguably its worst offensive performance of the season in the loss to Saint Louis. Grade: B

Jimmy Williams -- After being hired in December to replace Luke Walton, Williams, the Tigers' big men coach, was a key factor in the emergence of Black, who credited Williams with helping him break out of his early season slump. Memphis didn't get much else production-wise, however, from its other bigs. It remains to be determined whether Pastner will retain Williams, who's hired through April 30. Grade: B-

10:08 PM  
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