Pastner: Memphis “Not a Juggernaut”

Matt Stark over at Fox 13 is kind enough to always post videos of Josh Pastner’s pre-game press availability. If you don’t feel like watching the video here at this link – I’ve jotted down some thoughts on what he said:

The Tigers play at Tulsa tomorrow night — 6pm ESPNU. At this point, Tulsa is a 4pt favorite for tomorrow night’s AAC tilt.

  • Pastner congratulated Stark (New England native) on the Patriots AFC Championship win. If the coaching thing doesn’t work out, Pastner might have a future in politics.
  • Overall theme of his comments:  Last few games are in the history book – gotta move forward – focus on process, getting better.
  • Tulsa is very good, but Memphis is focused on Memphis – and getting better, improving.
  • Pastner was asked about Austin Nichols having said confidence is at an all time high. Pastner agreed. “Winning helps, guys are playing better and feel the team getting better. Guys are feeling good, they see the improvement.”
  • Pastner really seemed to go out of his way to say they’re probably going to struggle again: “We’re not a juggernaut.” He repeated this several times. The expectation setting and lowering of the bar was typical Pastner – in other words, a little over the top.
  • In case you’re wondering:
jug·ger·naut
ˈjəɡərˌnôt/
noun
  1. a huge, powerful, and overwhelming force or institution.
  • I would think Pastner would at least embrace the idea that they could become a juggernaut. Gotta have goals, right?
  • Sometimes it isn’t clear if he’s just trying to keep everyone focused or trying to lower expectations of the fan-base, but either way it’s hardly motivational genius to say: look, we’re not big and powerful and capable of overwhelming you. 
  • My point here is that there’s something called a self fulfilling prophecy and it works like this (courtesy Wikipedia):

A self-fulfilling prophecy is a prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to become true, by the very terms of the prophecy itself, due to positive feedback between belief and behavior.

  • From the very beginning of his tenure, Pastner’s “winning is hard” / “we’re not a juggernaut” shtick struck me as a bad idea in that it could and would become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  • In other words, when you say “winning is hard” enough times, winning becomes hard. You say, “we’re not a juggernaut” enough times and it will stay true.
  • Note that I’m not saying they are currently a juggernaut – I just wouldn’t go out of my way to point out that they aren’t.
  • Ok. I’m leaving that alone now.
  • Pastner went out of his way to say the rotation will change from game to game. This now appears to be his coaching philosophy (as regarding playing time anyway), that every game is different and will be treated differently.
  • The rotation has been an infuriating point for a lot of fans and the target of commentators, so it’s sort of refreshing to actually hear him embrace and own that his philosophy is to have no set rotation at all.
  • Whether not having a consistent rotation at all (coaching “on feel”) will actually work or not, we’ll see. I don’t know of other coaches at the college level that manage teams this way.
  • It strikes me as being difficult on the players….and that he’s doing it to avoid hard decisions about who should be playing and who shouldn’t…and that the only way to actually trim a rotation in this manner is when guys (Like Kuran Iverson) quit your team or get injured.
  • That being said, Pastner is the guy who gets paid $2.75m to make these decisions.
  • And his team is improving, so I’ll shut up now.
  • Pastner said that Calvin Godfrey’s approach and toughness have helped the entire team, including Shaq (the person Godfrey replaced in the starting lineup). I agree.
  • Pastner said something a little odd when talking about Godfrey. He’s the kind of that guy “you usually see on other teams.” This was kind a weird confession or self-indictment of his team’s toughness over the past several years.