The first official practice for the Memphis Tigers Basketball team is over but there were a lot of great things to say about this team. The entire team seemed pumped and ready for their opening game against Austin Peay on Nov. 14 at the FedEx Forum. Josh Pastner didn’t have to do a lot of yelling towards his team because they know what they have to do to win this upcoming season. They are loaded with talent and ready to have an successful season for themselves and for the city of Memphis.
Pastner, as always, was hard on his guys but in the end he was happy with what he saw. “I thought today, for our first day, was pretty good,” said Pastner. “I like where we’re at. The whole thing on practice and everything we’ve focused on is transition, conversion and moving to the next thing. Now today, actually, I thought we were slow. There was a little more teaching. I want it to a point where it’s just convert, convert, convert because that’s what pressing is. But overall it was a good day. They went hard.”
Pastner’s main focus for his team on defense is to full-court press. These guys will have to be conditioned to have the ability to run up and down the floor for two halves. No one can be tired; it’s all about going out there and leaving everything on the court. The incoming freshmen for the Tigers looked just as good as the returning guys. Michael Dixon definitely did his thing by sprinting back to the other side of the court after making back-to-back lay-ups. Damien Wilson played as if he wants to be part of the Tigers’ rotation this season, instead of riding the bench like he did most of last season.
New guys David Pellom and Dominic Woodson both yelled at their teammates that were on the court. Austin Nichols, who headlines the No.2 ranked recruiting class, mishandled a pass from Joe Jackson. Pellom told him that he has to catch that pass at all times. No worries because Nichols will definitely get better as the season progresses.
To end the two hour and 45 minute practice, the Tigers scrimmaged. The White team consisted of Wilson, Chris Crawford, Nick King, Nichols and Woodson. These guys went up against the Blue team that consisted of Jackson, Dixon, Geron Johnson, Shaq Goodwin and Pellom. There’s no telling how Pastner will use all of this talent. He could possibly have two starting line-ups to work with.
Woodson is not a true x-factor for the team yet because of his weight. When he arrived to Memphis in the summer, he weighed 320 pounds. Now, he’s down to 300. Pastner is very pleased with his progression.
“He’s come along way. Look at his body. It’s transforming,” said Pastner. “But he’s not out of the woods. He’s gotta keep moving forward.”
As for the rest of the team, Johnson and Crawford battled each other during the scrimmage. Neither guy let up on both ends of the ball. With the leadership that Pastner has in his guards, he will not have to do a lot of yelling. Teaching the philosophy of pressing will be his primary focus and hopefully the team are better as a whole shooting free throws.
The question now remains…..
Can these guys press for the entire game plus be effective on the offensive end?
That’s a question that will be answered once the season starts.