It was a long year. An excruciating, heartbreaking, and underachieving year.
It was Joe Jackson’s and Chris Crawford’s final season and it was Geron Johnson’s and Michael Dixon Jr’s last hurrah. And with those 4 senior guards, 4 guards with experience, 4 guards who were expected to lead the Tigers back to the years like 2008, 4 guards who could do everything on the floor, the Tigers underachieved.
Was it the “Missed shots” that Coach Josh Pastner talked about ad nauseam? Was it the fact that the defense progressively faded away? Was it the failure of Joe Jackson to exceed everyone’s expectations?
Yes it was. It was a combination of all of that.
Memphis fans and everyone that knows the Tigers expected this season to be the one. The one to put the Tigers back in the national spotlight. And at times, it did.
Memphis was able to knock off Oklahoma State in the championship of the Old Spice Classic. Memphis was able to beat Louisville twice, once at the KFC Yum Center and the other time at home. There were many highlights, and many highlights over the careers of these 4 seniors. But no one expected an 8 seed, and no one expected the Tigers to lose in the “3rd” round by 18.
It’s kind of unfortunate. All of the positive vibes, all of the progress that the coaches spoke of during the off season, and all of the potential that Joe Jackson and the other guards had, just made it that much tougher. And for Pastner, it seemed like this year’s ending made him look at the program in a more critical light which could set up for a brighter future.
But this is about now, about the loss to Virginia. And although the Tigers jumped out to the early lead, you knew Virginia’s defense and pace would catch up.
Joe Harris, Malcolm Brogdon, Anthony Gill. These Virginia players played their system and it worked and worked well. And that’s what Virginia does, play their game.
You have to give all the credit to Virginia coach Tony Bennett, but for Pastner and Memphis, you just feel like they left so much unfinished business.
I guess that’s why we have next year. I guess that’s why Pastner will recruit, prepare, and hopefully instill the fight that this year’s team didn’t have.
And for Joe Jackson, Chris Crawford, and the other two, it was one hell of a ride. One of ups and downs, one of C-USA championships, and one of continuous uncertainty. But now that it’s over, you can take a step back and enjoy their careers. You can give Joe Jackson the props for coming to Memphis and for trusting in Pastner.
With the season finished, and with the careers over, you have to admit. Boy was this year of Tiger basketball entertaining.