Tag Archives: Geoff Calkins

All Things Tigers – Post ECU (1/28/15)

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….

Philosophic Phil:

“I still love the Tigers,” Blose said. “I’ll always love the Tigers. But I can’t take it any more.”

Blose’s rationale?

“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.

Realistic Ralph:

  • 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.

Negative Nellie:

  • 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.



How to Cope Emotionally with Tiger Losses

On the off chance that any reader of this blog doesn’t already know this: I’m a Memphis Tiger basketball fan. Have been since 1985. 30 years.

I’m not a casual fan. Like most fans, I have an emotional history with the enterprise. For example, in 1990, the day after a particularly difficult season ending Tiger loss (to UT in the 1st round of the NIT) I was riding in a car with my mother when Phil Collins’ then hit song, “I Wish It Would Rain Down” came on the radio. I cried. I cried because I really wanted it to rain down on me. I wanted the rain to cleanse and renew me. I wanted the rain to wash away the overwhelming sense of loss and emptiness I felt after having invested so much energy and emotion into the outcome of that, and every, Tiger season. I connected with Collins’ visceral need for renewal in the depths of despair and failure. I had absolutely no idea at the time what he was actually singing about – I was 13 – but I freaking knew what he was singing about. Despair.

There’s also the anger. Most of these episodes were sort of like blackouts and what was conscious was quickly repressed- so the details are fuzzy – but I’ve thrown books, scared dogs, friends, and family members; damaged relationships, said things nobody should say about other human beings, stormed out of games and more. Worse.

The bottom line: I don’t like it when the Tigers lose. And that’s kind of the bad news.

But here’s the good news:

Over the years I’ve developed a method to circumvent these painful emotions.  It goes like this….


This is a simple method and it generally works well. For example, I’ll typically watch wins on replay right after the game. I’ll read all the articles about wins. I’ll tune into talk radio after wins. I’ll check the RPI, the next few weeks’ schedule, maybe even check out some other college basketball just to see what’s happening. Why not? Good vibes all around. Soak it in. Really feel it.

After losses, on the other hand……………………………………….




Total abstinence.

Go to a movie, do some laundry, call a friend, walk the dog.  Anything but think for a second about the fact that Memphis basketball just lost to Tulane. I’m serious about this – I will not waste more than 10 seconds if I can help it thinking about the fact that Memphis basketball just lost to Tulane. This isn’t difficult. I’m 37 now. I understand the broader picture – or at least enough of it to know that in the grand scheme of things, regardless of your personal religious affiliation or moral convictions, or beliefs about the universe – the outcome of a college basketball game just doesn’t register. So I move on, and spend my time doing other things. And how perfect is this? All that time I wasted re-watching games I already knew the outcome to? I’m now getting it back by moving on swiftly and without regret after a loss. Like it never happened. I’ll perk up just enough to know when the next game is (Thursday against SMU), and I’ll watch that one – but until then I’m free to completely ignore 92.9, The Commercial Appeal, Twitter, etc. A much needed respite.

One caveat: I always read Calkins.

Also, and here’s where some people may call me a bandwagon fan if they wish. When the team is bad, I’ll start skipping games – or taping / DVRing them to see if they win and then watching later only if they win. Now – keep in mind – due to the incredibly successful nature of the program, this tactic seldom gets utilized. In the last 30 years the Tigers have had just 3 losing seasons. Rare to be certain, but when the down years do come a little detachment is in order. For everyone’s well being.

There’s only problem with all this:

I decided to write a blog about basketball this year. In particular, Memphis basketball. So now I feel like I sorta have to write something. Not for the readership of bballjones.com, whom I appreciate. But for myself, because I kind of want to stick with this for a little while. So instead of writing some detailed breakdown of how the Tigers lost to Tulane, which you can get via Jason Smith if you really care, I wrote this. Whatever this is.

Now, as we do after each Tigers game, let’s hear from Philosophic Phil, Negative Nellie, and Realistic Ralph.  Please note that Philosophic Phil has replaced Positive Paul, who is now dead.

Philosophic Phil:

  • It’s great that the fans were treated to a spirited competitive game.
  • Tulane must feel so proud of their accomplishment.
  • Knowing and experiencing the agony of defeat makes the coming victory that much sweeter.

Negative Nellie:

  • The Tigers body of work is non existent.
  • Zero quality wins, and the potential bad (home) losses are piling up.
  • This means the Tigers are extremely far from NCAA tournament consideration.

Realistic Ralph:

  • Austin Nichols, 28 pts, 9 rbs, 4 blks. Wow. He’s clearly emerging.
  • Sure, Pookie coughed this one up – but he also had 9 assists – that doesn’t just happen by accident.
  • The Tigers were up 5 with under 4 minutes to go and just didn’t make that next play that might have sealed the game. It’s not as if they were out classed from the jump.
  • It is what it is. #IIWII