8 Thoughts on Pastner Interview

I’ve had some time to reflect on yesterday’s interview with Josh Pastner. I have some thoughts:

  • One thing I learned is that Pastner does a pretty good job of not letting criticism get to him. He understands and accepts the passion of Memphis fans, but seems genuinely driven by principal and process. Thus, he is seemingly able to accept the negativity surrounding his job performance without internalizing it.
  • From a fan’s perspective, I’d be most pleased that Pastner acknowledged that he needs to do a better job recruiting and / or developing a floor general. In my estimation, this is the one area that has consistently held the Memphis program back over the course of the past 6 seasons. I don’t see Memphis turning the corner until a true floor general emerges.
  • The bad news on this front is that guy (a floor general) may not be on the roster or in the pipeline. I’m also not positive that Pastner trusts his players enough to let go enough to empower a floor general.
  • Pastner admitted that he wants guys to be as driven as he is – but I’m not sure he’ll ever be satisfied in that area because most human beings aren’t as driven as he is.
  • Just think of the “leaders” of Pastner’s teams over the years.
    • Elliot Williams – Had an outstanding year in 09-10, but as an incoming transfer of a veteran laden team, he never truly emerged as a leader.
    • Joe Jackson – Was admittedly not a vocal leader.
    • Will Barton – Was probably the closest thing to a floor general Pastner has had – but it never seemed Barton’s teammates respected him enough to allow him to lead. Possibly because he was too emotional.
    • Austin Nichols – Theoretically I agree with Pastner that a “floor general” doesn’t have to be a point guard, but it is certainly harder to be a leader in the game without the ball in your hands. For that and other reasons, I’m not as optimistic that Nichols is the long term answer in this regard.
  • When asked about his weakness – Pastner referenced his refusal to play mind games. I’m not sure his demonstrations were as illustrative as he intended them to be, but clearly he must find intrinsically motivated players or develop some other way to motivate his team that he can live with. It’s inarguable that during Pastner’s tenure there have been multiple players play below their potential.
  • A lot of fans don’t want to hear it, but Pastner is right about the fact that he’s won a lot since coming to Memphis. Getting to the 2nd round of the tournament the last 2 years – and falling one game short of the sweet 16 – is very close to the kind of success that would quiet a lot of his critics. Getting blown out both times didn’t help, but it’s fair for him to subtly point out that perhaps the narrative of his tenure doesn’t quite match the reality.
  • Taken all this together, I’m convinced that any talk of firing Pastner right now, or after this year, is completely off base. Short of some non-basketball related scandal, I think Memphis’ best course of action is to continue to support Josh Pastner’s professional growth and hope that he can lead the Tiger program back to the type of post-season success which will quiet his critics.

2 thoughts on “8 Thoughts on Pastner Interview”

  1. looks like someone was charmed! i honestly see nothing in that interview that allays any of the fears i have about paz as a coach. he comes across as a hell of a guy but mainly recites talking points and evades several questions. he basically said his weaknesses are a positive. these are answers ive heard him give dozens of times. i thought it was interesting that you asked him about five diff ways how he got to be that way (responding to everyone, positive) and he really never answered you. maybe he doesnt know. but he almost comes across like a robot programmed to be relentlessly positive. you can never really crack him and get to something that feels real.

    that said, great work!

  2. I actually have my theories about how he got that way – which would explain why he dodged the question. I guess that part doesn’t matter.
    I’m not sure he allayed my fears either – but he at least let me know that he sees some of the same problems. The lack of leadership on the floor and (at least in the past) having recruited guys that don’t fit his overall philosophy or system is a huge problem. I actually think the current roster does have his “type” of guys – but lacks that floor general – and let’s face it is extremely inexperienced. So I’m not sure I was charmed so much as I think he deserves another year for all of the reasons he basically laid out. If he misses the tournament for a 2nd straight year (next year) with no obvious signs that he’s got it pointed back in the right direction then I think he’s in real trouble.

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