The Memphis Tigers Basketball Program are getting recognized as always when the college basketball kicks into high gear. This program is known for winning and competing at the highest level. But early in the season, there has been slumps that they have had a hard time bouncing back from.
For the fourth consecutive season, the Tigers under Josh Pastner begins the season ranked in the top 25. This season they are ranked No. 13 in the Associated Press preseason top 25 poll that was released on Thursday. Memphis is also ranked No. 13 in the USA Today coaches poll.
Senior guard Chris Crawford knows what the Tigers are up against and to him, it’s nothing new.
“Ever since I’ve been here, we’ve always been ranked pretty decent. But at the beginning of the season we’ve always had a little collapse where we weren’t mentally ready,” said Crawford. “This year we’ve been taking baby steps all summer.
“We want to remain in the rankings. We’re old enough now. We’re more mature now, a lot of veterans. So that’s one of the main goals, staying in the rankings so you won’t have to worry deep in the season about winning a conference tournament championship just to get in the NCAA tournament. We want to stay solidified.”
Let’s start with the year 2011. The Tigers entered that season ranked No. 8 in the country, but stumbled into losses. They were defeated by the No. 15 Michigan State Spartans. Last season, they entered the season ranked No. 19 in the country. But things didn’t go as planned. They suffered a loss to VCU in the Bahamas and then another loss to the Minnesota Gophers, who wasn’t ranked in the top 25.
Pastner seems upbeat about this upcoming season. Like Crawford, Pastner also knows what is at stake when it comes to winning games and staying above water.
“The last two years, I felt we were confident, but instead of hungry we were arrogant. We just thought we were gonna show up and out-talent the opposition,” said Pastner. “That’s part of lessons. Having experienced guards and underclassmen, they’ve been through it and understand it, and that’s positive.
“We got punched both years. They had to be punched to be woke up. The approach is everything. It doesn’t guarantee a win, but it guarantees you an opportunity to put yourself in a position to play well. We’re gonna have that just through our experience and having the senior guys who have been around.”
Now, it is time to either put up or shut up. The Tigers will run into some heavyweights early in the season. In the Old Spice Classic championship, they could face Oklahoma State, who’s ranked No. 8 in the country. Before the tournament, they will play each other on Nov. 19 in Stillwater, TX.
Tigers could also get a taste of the LSU Tigers in the tournament. LSU is picked to finish fourth in the Southeastern Conference as they are bringing in a top 10 recruiting class that could take the college basketball world by storm. Junior forward Johnny O’ Bryant III will lead the way for LSU.
I received this information from the Commercial Appeal.