Still Hanging Tough

The Tigers remains in the AP Top 25 after overtime win against Temple

During the usual Monday press conference for the Memphis Tigers Basketball program, coach Josh Pastner was smiling all the way through. His body language told it all as he was as laid back as he’s ever been anytime he has had to talk behind the mic.

The Tigers, along with the other elite Division I schools, found out where they currently rank in the Associated Press top 25.  The American Athletic Conference currently has four teams in the top 25.

The defending national champion Louisville Cardinals has the highest ranking coming in at No. 7. The Cincinnati Bearcats fell four spots to No. 11. Memphis moves up to No. 21 and SMU jumps back into the polls to No. 23 after their road win against the Connecticut Huskies.

“It’s good to stay in the polls. I think we’re 21 and 22 in AP and coaches respectively,” Pastner said. “It’s good to have a 2-0 last week. I would rather be in the polls than to not be in the polls and this is the longest we have been in there from start to finish during my five years here, which is good.”

The season is winding down but the Tigers (21-6, 10-4 AAC) have some unfinished business to attend to before their conference tournament. On Thursday night, the Tigers will hit the road to take on the Houston Cougars (13-14, 5-9 AAC).

Then on Saturday, the Tigers will face the Cardinals in front of the Tiger Nation fanatics. The Tigers are currently 3-6 against the top 50 RPI.

Pastner reiterates how important it is for his team to take care of business in the final stretch of the season.

“Obviously, we have to take care of business this week, but the new poll will not come out until March 3rd. I want to stay in the polls in March.”

In the last three seasons with Pastner as head coach, the Tigers have stumbled out the polls due to their lack of effort on both ends of the basketball.

Pastner mentions what it will take for his team to stay in.

“How do you stay in the polls going into March is you gotta keep winning. You gotta win and that’s kind of where we’re at. We have four regular season games left and right now we’re focused on Houston.”

In order for the Tigers to get a win on the road against Houston, they will have to find a way to slow junior forward TaShawn Thomas, who’s the Cougars leading scorer (15.7 ppg).

In the last game against Memphis, Thomas scored 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting (60 percent) and grabbed seven boards en route to an 83-59 loss to the Tigers.

Pastner praises Thomas for the player he is today.

“TaShawn is a stud. There’s no other way to put it. He’s a really, really good player. He can score with both hands. He’s a high-level guy and he can do a lot of different things.”

Pastner has been the type of coach to answer any type of question. To many, that’s part of his personality. No matter what way people put it, coach Pastner is going to be coach Pastner. He was asked by another reporter about whether or not Thomas will play in the NBA. Pastner wasted no time answering his question.

“Yes, he is a pro. I don’t work in the NBA but he will make money off of the game rather it’s domestically or internationally.”