ATB: Memphis Survives But Raises QuestionsPosted by rtmsf on December 17th, 2010
The Lede. Another night during this light week of games, another upset. Ok, not quite. But Austin Peay sure made us think that another ranked team was going down at home tonight, didn’t they? Otherwise, it was another very quiet evening of games around the country.
Your Watercooler Moment. Memphis Is Not Good. Sure, they’re 8-1 now after an overtime win against Austin Peay, but in many respects the Governors outplayed the Tigers, and several of the same issues that have arisen in those first eight games reared their ugly heads again tonight. Turnovers (24 total, many of which were just careless and unforced); poor shot selection (Joe Jackson and Will Barton combined for a 5-19 night); and a general lack of leadership on the floor (Charles Carmouche jump-starting his team after a 21-0 run by AP is a start). Josh Pastner by all apparent indications is a recruiter extraordinaire, and if you ask 100 coaches if they’d rather have elite talent or elite coaching ability, 99 of them would say the former. But he’s yet to prove in his year-plus at Memphis that he’s learned how to engender leadership and accountability among his players, and this is especially more difficult with the caliber of young and often immature players that the 33-year old is corralling. We’re very interested to see how this year plays out, because with injuries and some defections Pastner is now down to only nine scholarship guys, and although Conference USA is still no match for the talent that Memphis can put on the floor, neither is Austin Peay nor Arkansas State. They have a week to prepare for a home game against Georgetown (with TAMU-CC in between), and they’ll really need to have their heads on straight for that one or risk embarrassment at the hands of the more experienced Hoyas.
Tonight’s Quick Hits…
- John Shurna & Michael Thompson. The two Northwestern stars are killing it so far this season, with another great performance tonight in the Wildcats’ victory over American. Shurna had 23/4/3 stls/3 blks and Thompson contributed 23/3/3 assts in the 16-point victory. In seven games so far this season, the two are dropping over forty points per game and shooting well over 50% from the field. They’ve played nobody of consequence yet, but any year that Northwestern can start the season 7-0 is a good thing in Evanston.
- The Lumberjacks and Governors. Neither middie came away from their games with a win tonight but they both represented the little guys well. NAU did what they needed to do to win — the ‘Jacks hit 53% of their shots in the McKale Center and outrebounded Arizona by ten, but they were unable to defend UA from three, as the Wildcats’ ten treys made the difference in the tightly-battled game. The Govs didn’t shoot the ball well at Memphis, but they forced 24 turnovers against the Tigers and dominated the glass (especially on the offensive end, +13). A few bounces here and there could have gone their way, but the key takeaway is that both teams gave themselves great chances to steal one tonight.
- Damen Bell-Holter. The Oral Roberts big man had a career night on the glass in Columbia this evening, pulling a man-sized seventeen boards down including ten on the offensive end. Considering that his team couldn’t hit the ocean standing in a boat tonight (27%), there were plenty of caroms available for him, but anytime a single player has a night like that, it should be noted.
… and Misses.
- SEC West. What else is new? Should we give credit to LSU for eking out a 12-point win in overtime over McNeese State, or should we again pile on the worst division in college basketball? It’s seemingly night after night after night with these guys. Can we just go ahead and get to the SEC schedule so they stop having these embarrassing games (and yes, it’s embarrassing to get taken to overtime by McNeese State; imagine if the football team did that!).
Tweet of the Night. The Tigers were lucky to come out with a win at home tonight against Austin Peay, and this tweet by Andy Glockner crystallized just how fortunate they were.