Negative Nellie, Realistic Ralph & Philosophic Phil (Post @SMU)

The SMU game was a microcosm of the Memphis season so far. Tepid, ineffectual, and void of any legitimate hope of a successful outcome. Too strong?

If the wheels haven’t come off for Josh Pastner’s squad, they’re certainly wobbly at the moment.

Let’s take a look at 3 points of view….

Philosophic Phil

  • It’s amazing how much better of a basketball program SMU is than Memphis right now.
  • Seems like just yesterday Coach Doh and SMU were a total laughingstock and the worst program in a very bad CUSA.
  • SMU at that point went way outside the box in hiring then 71-year old Larry Brown to resurrect its horrid basketball program. He’s done a magnificent job and at this point SMU is the favorite in the AAC. Memphis quite obviously is headed in the other direction.
  • It’s amazing more programs with nothing to lose (historically awful programs like SMU) don’t hire proven winners like Brown who seem washed up, but in the right environment could thrive and possibly pay huge dividends.
  • Guys like Jim Calhoun (72), Nolan Richardson (73), Bobby Knight (74), Gary Williams (69) have all been out of the game for several years now. It’s a shame more AD’s don’t have the courage to pick up the phone and do something unique.

Negative Nellie

  • When was the last time Memphis played a game where before the actual tip you basically knew the Tigers had no chance to win? It never felt like Memphis had a shot against SMU – even if things broke exactly right. SMU is just too strong and well coached for Memphis.
  • Memphis’ supposed strength – it’s front court – was totally exposed against SMU. SMU’s bigs got great position all night. SMU’s shot chart at the end of the game looked like there was a paintball explosion right around the rim.
  • More rotation drama and repercussions for Pastner’s squad. We knew going into the SMU game that Kuran Iverson wasn’t going to be available – but for whatever reason Pastner also suspended / sat Trashon Burrell.
  • Burrell had been Memphis’ most consistent wing so far this season, and not having him against SMU further crippled the offense.
  • I appreciate that Josh Pastner has lines he won’t let the players cross, but the suspension tactic has gotten out of control. At some point you either have the gravitas and authority to control / run your program and win, or you don’t. If you have to suspend your best players every game, you’re undermining your primary objective as a coach – to win basketball games.

Realistic Ralph

  • In isolation, a loss to pre-season conference favorite SMU on the road by 14 in January isn’t a reason to panic (Memphis actually played worse at SMU last year), but it’s just starting to get really hard to imagine a positive way forward for this team.
  • It’s the mid-point of the season and there’s still no clear identity for this Memphis team. For all the talk about Memphis hanging their hat on defense, they just got absolutely chewed up by SMU’s offensive penetration – which produced wide open looks at the rim.
  • As for their offensive identity, they struggle against solid defensive teams to generate any kind of open look via their guards, or to get the ball to Nichols. Shaq Goodwin remains a complete mystery.
  • The attitude of the fan base is one of detachment / anger / frustration. This is not a good thing for Pastner, who appears to be in danger of losing his team as well.
  • The Tigers next 2 games should be an interesting barometer of whether or not this team is going to quit. They travel to Houston on Saturday – the Cougars aren’t good, but Hoffheinz is always a tricky place to play in. After that Memphis plays Cincinnati at home next Thursday.