Tigers Let Down, Messed Around

You know that famous song by The Foundations?

The one at the end of There’s Something About Mary?

The “build me up” song?

Of course you know it. Everybody knows it.

Why do you build me up (build me up) Buttercup, baby
Just to let me down (let me down) and mess me around
And then worst of all (worst of all)….

And then worst of all, you blow a 17 point lead.

And then worst of all, you go into deep freeze offensively.

And then worst of all, your team leader and star Austin Nichols goes down with a gruesome lower leg injury.

And then worst of all, you fail to get back and adequately contest the last second shot after taking a lead with 7 seconds to go.

And then worst of all, you lose what could have been a huge momentum building win against a good (top 35 RPI) Temple team heading into the final month of the season.

And then worst of all, you go from maybe the most hopeful moment of the season to the darkest in a period of 91 minutes.

Sigh. 

The story can be summed up by two separate tweets, 91 minutes apart, from Tiger beat reporter Jason Smith:

First, the high:

And then, a mere 91 minutes later – in the aftermath of the crash:

If you haven’t already read about the game – here’s Smith’s game story in the CA.

Let’s hear from some of our friends:

Philosophic Phil:

  • The injury to Austin Nichols is a very good reminder of a few things. One, that Nichols’ long term health is the really important story in all this. The young man has a bright future ahead of him in the game of basketball and the news that his injury was not an ACL tear was a huge relief.
  • It’s also a reminder of why there’s so much pressure to redefine the concept of amateurism to reflect economic realities. Austin Nichols, and other stars of the college game, need insurance to guard against the economic effect of a serious injury. They need the advice of agents. And there’s an argument to be made that they need to be able to capitalize on their stardom as soon as possible.
Photo Courtesy of The Commercial Appeal.
Photo Courtesy of The Commercial Appeal.
  • If you’re adamantly against relaxing the rules on amateur athletes making money – I’d point you to the wall art in the Finch Center (left) – where Memphis Practices. It says “Do Your Job” – these guys work for the University and what they’re putting on the line becomes really clear in moments like Saturday’s – when Nichols went down. I’m not for paying college athletes a salary – but there are some other things that are being done that are long overdue.

Negative Nellie:

  • Where has this Shaq Goodwin been? This isn’t a negative comment per se – because Shaq was in full beast mode pulling down 23 rebounds. Yet it does highlight the obvious question: Why can’t he give this kind of effort more consistently? Maybe this will wake him up to do just that. Like Tarik Black before him – he has the physical tools to play at the next level if he can find the effort to match.
  • The Tigers (obviously) needed to do a much better job of getting back on defense to contest that last shot. To be fair, Temple just made a good play – but there was a lack of urgency on the part of Memphis’ guards, and it cost them. If you missed the play, I’ve copied the video at the end of this post.
  • If we’re gonna nit-pick, it might have been nice to have a time-out in that spot to set up your defense.

Realistic Ralph:

  • It’s really hard to imagine Memphis doing anything but struggling immensely without Austin Nichols available over the next few weeks.
  • The Tigers will now lack their best offensive and defensive player – and the one guy who’s been consistent all year in every way.
  • The season feels somewhat gone at this point. It will be a victory for Pastner to keep his guys fighting and to play .500 ball without Nichols in the lineup.   On a positive note – it will be chance for young guys like Trahson Burrell and Markel Crawford to play a ton of minutes. That’ll help the program going forward.

Here’s the final sequence, ICYMI: