Courtesy of Memphis TigerNetwork, take a peek at Josh Pastner’s interview prior to tonight’s 9pm / ESPN2 Memphis game against #3 Gonzaga in Spokane. My thoughts below. The Tigers, are 17.5 pt underdogs.
- Pastner says Memphis is there to win, but very quickly mentions how good Gonzaga is – almost as if he is reminding himself that Memphis probably isn’t going to win this game.
- As Pastner mentions, Gonzaga is one of the best offensive teams in the country.
- The Zags have always excelled in that area, but Memphis’ athleticism has been the difference in the series (Tigers lead all time 6-2).
- Such an advantage doesn’t exist this year as Gonzaga has their best team in years (led in part by Kentucky transfer Kyle Wiltjer and Domantas Sabonis, the son of former NBA great Arvydas Sabonis).
- Meanwhile Memphis’ athleticism and team speed have been downgraded from years past.
- Pastner mentions that the game is on Gonzaga’s campus as opposed to the off-campus Spokane Arena, where Memphis has played the Zags in the past.
- The Spokane arena was a tough environment, but playing on campus with a rowdy student section will be an even harder task for a Memphis team that was run off the floor in road games at SMU and Tulsa.
- This is an important point, and illustrates the difference between the current Memphis program and the one led by John Calipari a few years back.
- One of the small, but super important areas that Calipari’s staff excelled in was building a schedule.
- Calipari would never agree to play Gonzaga on campus. Why? Because it’s much harder to win on campus.
- Whether its attributable to negotiating prowess, foresight, power over his AD, or attention to detail – the previous staff was much more adept at building schedules that allowed Memphis to finish with a good RPI, and yet play winnable games.
- In terms of the RPI, there’s no difference between playing Gonzaga on campus or playing them in Spokane.
- Of course, having guys like Tyreke Evans – whose 22 points led Memphis to a season transforming blowout win at Gonzaga in 2009 – helped too.
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