Coach Pastner has preached over and over again about playing defense to his team. The Memphis Tigers doesn’t have much time to keep fooling around as the season kicks off next month. October will be over after Thursday night, so a person can count to November on their fingers. If the Tigers want to standout in the AAC, they will have to focus on not only offense, but defense as well.
Over the weekend, the Tigers scrimmaged and looked extremely well on the offensive end. Both teams ended up scoring 217 points, but where’s the defense? Nowhere to be found. Pastner was happy with their efforts on offense, but he had to take a step back and look at the film.
“During and after the scrimmage I’m like, ‘Man, they look so good offensively.’ Then you watch the tape and I’m like, ‘Wow. We have a long way to go defensively,’” said Pastner. “So I think that was an eye-opening thing for me. As much as we were scoring the ball, we weren’t guarding. We’ve gotta get stops.”
Despite the effort they showed over the weekend, in year’s past the Tigers have been a great defensive ball club. Last season, the Tigers were ranked second in Conference USA in field-goal percentage defense (40.5) and fourth in points allowed (64.9). They were even better during the 2011-2012 season. They allowed only 38.6 percent shooting and had the fourth lowest defensive field goal percentage.
After last season, Memphis lost their best defensive player in D.J. Stephens so, Pastner is now looking for his replacement. Thus far, no one on the roster has proven that they are worthy of stepping up and becoming a leader on defense. Now, there’s quickness on the team with the guards, but the forwards and centers will need to display blocked shots and defensive rebounds.
To get his guys in shape, Pastner ran a drill in Monday’s practice that focused strictly on defense. The drill required for the defensive team to get three consecutive stops without fouling or giving up an offensive rebound.
Pastner wanted to see it happen and he didn’t care if they were there all night long. “If we gotta stay here ’til 8 o’clock to get three stops, we’ll stay,” Pastner said to the team.
NCAA has placed new rules in college basketball this season. Players will not be allowed to play uptight defense meaning no more hand-checking. Memphis will play full-court press during the season, so there could be trouble on their hands.
“When you’re playing defense, you’re thinking about the new rules and how quick you can get a foul,” said Markel Crawford. ” Coach says you’ve got to get pressure. I’m so used to playing so close. You gotta take a step off and it’s kind of hard to do that.”
Memphis will get their chance to see what they are made of on defense when they the Baylor Bears Saturday in Ruston, La. in a closed scrimmage.
I received this information from the Commercial Appeal.