Tonight our friends review Wednesday’s Tigers-ECU game, respond to a column from Wednesday’s CA, and look ahead to Saturday’s game against Gonzaga.
Here we go….
- Geoff Calkins wrote a column in Wednesday’s Commercial Appeal about fan apathy. To illustrate his point that dwindling support for the Tigers may become a serious issue, Calkins tells the story of longtime supporter Fred Blose, who is no longer willing to attend games:
“I still love the Tigers,” Blose said. “I’ll always love the Tigers. But I can’t take it any more.”
“We’re not relevant,” he said. “We don’t even compete in a lot of big games. And Josh (Pastner), I’m sure he’s a nice guy, but he talks to us like we’re idiots, like we don’t know basketball.”
- The part about Pastner speaking to fans like idiots is interesting, and valid to some extent. I’ve heard the complaint before, but Calkins’ column is the first time I’ve seen it mentioned publicly.
- Part of what made following John Calipari such a difficult task was that fan expectations needed to be adjusted. In Pastner’s zeal to explain that “winning is hard” and that “it’s not a birthright to go to the NCAA tournament” – he has clearly lost credibility with fans who feel patronized.
- As to the relevance point, it should be noted that Blose gave up his tickets before this year. In other words, he gave them up on the heels of Memphis appearing – however briefly – in 4 consecutive NCAA tournaments. That’s hardly a clear cut lack of relevance.
- Nobody should be alarmed or judgmental when fans don’t support a struggling team. Some folks are willing to stick with a young or inexperienced team trying to come together – some would rather spend their time elsewhere.
- The bottom line is guys like Blose will come back if and when the Tigers start winning big. Until then, the athletic department will have to stomach smaller crowds.
- Keep in mind most colleges play at smaller campus venues and the average college crowd nationally is under 5k. Most also don’t compete with NBA teams.
- The Tigers have won 5 of 6 to push their record to 13-7 (6-3) heading into a showdown at #3 Gonzaga on Saturday.
- Let’s be honest (and realistic), it’s hard to envision Memphis even competing in Spokane.
- The Zags have lost once all year – in OT at Arizona.
- The Tigers have won six of seven in the series vs. Gonzaga since 2005, but in years past Memphis had a clear edge in athleticism. That no longer being the case, this looks like the year the Zags finally exact revenge.
- After Gonzaga, the Tigers finish the season with a stretch of 10 games (9 AAC games + and odd date next Wed. against Jacksonville State at FEF).
- Realistic goals for Memphis at this point are (a) 20 wins, and (b) a top 4 finish in the AAC – and thus a bye in March’s AAC tournament in Hartford.
- The drama continues for Memphis. Nick King, who was a DNP against Tulane (and the subject of transfer speculation all week), played 19 minutes against ECU and tallied 11 pts, 7 rebs.
- Pastner’s rationalization for sitting King against Tulane – the need to trim the rotation – lasted just one game. 9 guys played extended (8+) minutes against ECU – and that was with Shaq Goodwin sidelined.
- As I wrote last week, anything more than an 8 man rotation is statistically not a recipe for success in college basketball.
- Calvin Godfrey – who looked so good against Cincinnati and UCF a few weeks ago – has since seen his minutes dwindle. His production is down as well. Against ECU, he finished with 0 points and 2 rebounds in just 9 minutes.
- The 3-headed PG monster still hasn’t produced a floor general for Memphis. Kedren Johnson (7pts, 2asts) played the majority of minutes against ECU but looked a little sluggish. Pookie Powell (5pts, 1 ast) played just 8 minutes. Pastner eventually turned to Demarnier Cunningham (2 asts) for 4 minutes as well.