Random Thoughts on Bowen, Rudd, Calipari, Kids Tables, Pastner and Grizz

Took some time off from the blog after the Tigers’ season ended, but so many of you my dad have been clamoring asked once about when I might write again so here goes. Just a few tidbits:

  • If Tom Bowen stays at Memphis and somehow helps maneuver the Tigers into the Big XII (odds are slim), I’m taking partial credit.
  • One of our last posts was a story about how Bowen was a finalist for the AD position at Cal. It appears in the aftermath of that development, Bowen may have secured some type of contract extension at Memphis. This week, UM President David Rudd announced on Twitter that Bowen will be staying with the Tigers.
  • I suppose it’s a positive that Bowen is staying at Memphis. He’s overseen a remarkable turnaround in the football program – and surely he deserves some of the credit even though Justin Fuente was hired before him and is the primary architect of the rebuild.
  • Therefore, before we go building any statutes for Bowen, Tiger fans should expect to see (a) the promised facility projects materialize on South Campus and (b) a renewed focus on shedding the recent narrative that men’s basketball is no longer competing at an elite national level in terms of resources.
  • While it isn’t fair to judge Bowen exclusively on whether or not Memphis gets into a P5 conference (so much of that is beyond his control), he surely is expected to best position his athletic department for such inclusion. Doing that means that in addition to building football – he must continue working towards top notch facilities for all sports and the maintenance of a top 25 basketball program.
  • Speaking of David Rudd – kudos to him for playfully firing back at John Calipari for his comments that coaching at Memphis was like being at the “kid’s table.”
  • Calipari was trying to make a point that he would not have had the opportunity to be elected to the Hall of Fame (which he was recently) had he not gotten a job at a “Power” school – as he did in 2009 at Kentucky.
  • Forgetting for a moment whether or not Calipari’s jab was intentional (I don’t think so) or just typically self-centered in its speakers disregard for whom it might offend (I think so) – it’s factually incorrect.
  • Here is a partial list of College Basketball coaches outside the “power” structure (at the time they coached) elected to the Naismith HOF: Edgar Diddle (Western Kentucky), Harry Litwack (Temple), Eddie Hickey (Creighton), Ray Meyer (DePaul), Stan Watts (BYU), Al McGuire (Marquette), Denny Crum (Louisville), Pete Carrill (Princeton), Don Haskins (UTEP), John Chaney (Temple), Jerry Tarkanian (UNLV).
  • If Calipari is looking for a distinguishing factor here – it’s probably that all of the coaches listed above were better floor coaches than him.
  • The Kentucky job may have afforded Calipari the opportunity to be in the HOF, but it’s also cemented his reputation as a less than elite game coach. To have one title in 6 years with all the talent he’s amassed in Lexington is a bit of a disappointment.
  • That being said, I still think Calipari’s election is deserved. I realize I’m offering a nuanced position here, but he is clearly the best program builder / re-builder of this era (UMass, Memphis, Kentucky all reached the Final 4 under his watch), and is also a top notch developer of talent.
  • Bottom line – Calipari excels at gathering and developing teams and talent – but his approach has flaws as well.
  • Still, Memphis fans need to forgive. For their own program’s health.
  • Speaking of the current Memphis program – nice to see an unheralded local kid – G Jeremiah Martin – get rewarded with a scholarship.
  • It’s undoubtedly a sign of the damage which the fan unrest has had on recruiting that Memphis fans are now celebrating stealing a Louisiana Tech recruit, but so what? Memphis fans are hopeful that Martin is interested in becoming an elite defender and offensive facilitator at the college level.
  • As Josh Pastner continues assembling a roster for 2015-16, let’s hope he remember the lessons of his first 6 years: It’s important to have guys that are willing to accept roles, including the role of sitting on the bench.
  • Pastner needs an 8 or 9 man rotation – and he also needs 3 guys that are capable of stepping in, but humble enough to sit on the bench and work for that opportunity. Every team needs this, but in the past Pastner has had to kick guys off in order to whittle the rotation to 8 or 9. He and the program can’t afford another year like that in 15-16.
  • Quick note on the Grizzlies: while it’s exciting that the playoffs are here, it’s alarming to see what a free-fall the team is in.
  • If they somehow end up with home court vs. Portland – all is well that ends well. Get healthy and let’s go.
  • If they end up without home court – it’s a major disappointment – but not the end of the world.
  • And either way, if they flame out in the 1st round of the playoffs – then the fear of losing Marc Gasol will get real, quite quickly – and the mood in this city is going to change swiftly.