Tag Archives: Philosophic Phil

Tigers Do That Hopey Changey Thing vs. Cincinnati

Josh Pastner’s nemesis, Negative Nellie, doesn’t have much to say after the Tigers’ 63-50 AAC win over longtime rival Cincinnati. The win pushes the Tigers to 10-6 (3-2) and for the first time in a long time, there’s hope for Tiger fans. In fact, tonight we’re going to hear from Hopeful Harry instead of Realistic Ralph.

In a season like this, after a win like that – realism can take the night off.

Hopeful Harry:

  • This game will get fans of the Memphis program dreaming again – for at least a few days. There are 15 games left in the season, which means the Tigers just crossed the halfway point of the season. A lot can happen between now and March and Memphis will have opportunities to prove this wasn’t a fluke.
  • The next 4 games heading into a showdown at #3 Gonzaga on January 31st are huge if the Tigers want to generate some real momentum. Memphis hosts a weak UCF team on Saturday at 1pm, then has 2 road games next week (at Tulsa, at Tulane) before returning home to face East Carolina on January 28th.
  • For whatever else that’s transpired, Memphis appears to have closed the gap between itself and Cincinnati from last year to this year. Last year Cincinnati mashed Memphis twice and made it appear that all those years in CUSA had rendered Memphis too soft to compete with physical teams such as the Bearcats. With guys like Calvin Godfrey, and a more physical Austin Nichols, Pastner appears to have accomplished his goal of making his program more physically tough up front.
  • Best statistic of the night for Memphis by far – besides the final score – was that they limited turnovers to 11. One of them was the shot clock violation at the end of the game so the real number was 10. This was the 3rd straight game with less than 13 turnovers for Memphis. If the Tigers can get their ball handling issues ironed out, they have a shot.
  • Is it possible some roles have finally been defined for Memphis? Is Avery Woodson the sharp-shooter the program has been lacking for years (40% on 76 attempts this year)? Is Nichols a legit all conference performer? Is Godfrey the physical enforcer the team desperately needs? It’s all very optimistic – but for Memphis this year – optimism is a welcome development.

Philosophic Phil:

  • This was a big win for Josh Pastner. Not because it necessarily changes the trajectory of the season (though it might), but more so because it shows – at the very least – that his team hasn’t quit and is improving as the stretch run approaches.
  • Cincinnati entered the game at 34 in the CBSSports RPI with 3 top 50 wins. This was Memphis’ best win of the season by a mile.
  • The match-up wasn’t quite the same without Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin, who isn’t coaching games this year due to medical issues. It was comforting that his replacement – Larry Davis – was just as intense, just as high strung and just as bald. Overly intense coaches are a hallmark of Bearcat basketball.
  • Speaking of intense, it was good to see Josh Pastner get in some of his players faces early. It’s strange to say, but maybe the losing and adversity of the season have been good for Pastner’s development as a coach – as he could stand to be a little more edgy and cynical with his players and the media. There’s a fine line with this, but the nice guy thing gets old – especially when it doesn’t always seem sincere.
  • Regarding Pastner and the media – he should drop the line about this being a rebuilding year / transition year. It’s undoubtedly true, but nobody wants to hear it and it just sounds like an excuse. There are other ways to make the point.

Negative Nellie:

  • Not a lot in this category tonight – this was a good result.
  • The rotation continues to be weird. Pookie Powell got only 6 minutes, Nick King got played just 4 and Shaq Goodwin 13. Pastner has gone from subbing like crazy to hardly subbing at all in the 2nd half of this game. Woodson, Nichols and Johnson essentially played the entire half. Subbing “on feel” is a weird way to manage a team and one still wonders if there won’t be more chemistry issues as the season moves along.
  • Pastner did wear that blue – purplish tie and blue shirt combo again tonight. Someone needs to make it stop.


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