The (endless) Positive Nature of Josh Pastner

Memphis coach Josh Pastner was featured on Northwestern Mutual Presents NCAA Men of March – which aired earlier today on CBS. I’m traveling this weekend, so I missed most of the program. What I did catch appeared to be typical Pastner: he praised the program’s history, the city, and the fans. He was humble and reflective. Not at all self-promoting. I hope to see it soon in its entirety.

In the meantime, I came across an accompanying story, written by CBS’ Matt Norlander. It’s basically a factual account of what Pastner has accomplished at Memphis – but because Norlander is a neutral party – it’s written from a balanced point of view. It’s very hard to argue with Norlander’s points.

If you’re a fan of the program who has issues with Pastner, I would suggest reading it with an open mind.

Here’s another story about Pastner.

The other day, I wrote a blog entry criticizing Pastner’s use of an extended rotation.

Because I’ve had a brief relationship with Pastner – I thought I’d send him the blog to see what he might say in response.

He responded within 3 hours with an extended email. As you might imagine, it was classic Pastner. Here are some portions of his email:

I appreciate you being upfront regarding the criticism.  Which is all fair and welcomed.  In fact, I think it is a great another opportunity is out there to spread the message of Tiger basketball and give the fans another opportunity to get information.
He went on to explain his philosophy on substitutions a little further….
Our rotation needs to be 8 to 9 guys on a consistent basis.  I would actually prefer to play a 7 man rotation like I have done in the past years.
The difference for this season than the ones before is that we don’t have a lot of separation from top to bottom which makes it a little jumbled.  Where as in the years past the top 7 or 8 guys were clearly better than 9 thru 13.
And some of the reasons we have suffered large defeats are due to some of these factors when the run by the other team is happening – live ball turnovers, major scoring droughts (where at times we try to hit the 12 pt shot), and probably playing too many guys trying to find the right 5 to give us the best chance to get out of the funk we are in.
He makes some good points – and then he goes ahead and agrees with me (which is the quickest way to my heart) that part of the problem is playing too many guys. I’ll be very interested to see how he handles the rotation tonight at Tulane (7pm ESPNU).

I’m a fledgling blogger that had just written a piece offering direct criticism of his coaching philosophy. Pastner could (and maybe should) have easily just ignored the email or offered a brief response and moved on. Instead, he took the time to read the blog (apparently multiple entries) and responded with kindness.

For whatever you might think of Josh Pastner as a coach – he’s a pretty incredible person.

That’s not a new realization for Memphians, but it’s worth repeating.