Since John Calipari left the University of Memphis Basketball Program to take the head coaching job at Kentucky, people were wondering who would take his place. A lot of people have no clue but here came Josh Pastner, who was an assistant coach at Arizona and Memphis. People have been comparing Pastner to Calipari since day one, but it doesn’t seem to bother Pastner.
“There is no comparison. He’s on his way to the Hall of Fame. I’m trying to win the Northwestern State game Saturday. There is a zero comparison,” Pastner said.
Jeff Goodman, ESPN.com college basketball writer got in on the conversation about the job Pastner has done since he took over as head coach for Memphis in 2009.
“There are plenty of guys who would have followed Cal and this program would have been nationally irrelevant,” Goodman said. “Josh hasn’t just made the program relevant. He brings energy and character to the table. He was in a no-win situation, but has won plenty.”
With that being said, the fans are not looking at the positives of Pastner’s coaching style. They were stuck on the 0-13 record he had against top ranked opponents. Pastner finally got the monkey off his back with a win over No.5 Oklahoma State Cowboys in the Old Spice Classic Championship game Sunday.
Pastner is not the only coach to go through turmoil when it comes to winning games. Calipari experienced the same problem in his earlier years as head coach of the Memphis Tigers.
Calipari become head coach at Memphis in 2000. He went 0-8 against ranked opponents until the Tigers defeated No.7 Illinois in December of 2002. Over the next four seasons, Calipari won just four of his first 20 games against ranked opponents over his first four seasons and six games into his fifth.
Does anyone see the resemblance? Pastner is following in Calipari’s footsteps taking in the pressure to win big games.
Calipari praises Pastner for the job he has done at Memphis.
“What I’m proud of is that he’s gone in and done what’s done under the circumstances,” Calipari said. “That is a hard job. It’s a very difficult job. And he’s gone in and, to be honest, has recruited better than we did there. If you look at what we were able to recruit — especially early, but even late — he has recruited better than we recruited.”
“Literally, I was selling tickets. I mean, I went out and sold 4,000-5,000 tickets myself. And the Memphis Grizzlies weren’t as good then. So what he’s done with attendance in a city that’s a melting pot — where you have to deal with fans of Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas and Vanderbilt — and juggle all those balls, it’s amazing the job he’s done.
“That’s a hard place to learn on the job. It’s kind of like here. You can’t learn on the job here either because all of a sudden you never get away from that side of it. I’m really proud of what he’s done, again, because I was there. I know how difficult the job is.”
Now let’s do the comparison and allow the fans to be the judge of whether or not Pastner and Calipari is somewhat similar.
Record through four seasons and six games: 111-35 (.760 winning percentage)
Record vs. AP Top 25 ranked teams: 1-13
NCAA tournament appearances: Three
NCAA tournament record: 1-3
Record through four seasons and six games: 97-41 (.703 winning percentage)
Record through four seasons and six games: 4-16
NCAA tournament appearances: Two
NCAA tournament record: 1-2
I received this information from the Commercial Appeal.