The Memphis Tigers (24-10, 12-6 AAC) basketball season is officially over after their 78-60 loss to No. 1 seeded Virginia Cavaliers (30-6, 16-2 ACC) of the Atlantic Coast Conference in the third round of the NCAA tournament on Sunday. With their dreams of playing in the Sweet 16 round crushed, what’s next for coach Josh Pastner and the team as a whole?
Pastner starts the press conference with how he will run his rotation of players for next season, mentioning that nothing will be handed to his players. Everything will have to be earned by hard work and dedication to the program.
“Playing time is to be earned. No one is bigger than this program that includes myself, that includes my coaches, that includes the players. Nobody is ever bigger than this program,” Pastner said to the media at the final press conference of the season.
“Everything has to be earned, nothing is going to be given to you. I have never promised anything in recruiting, never promised a minute or a starting spot. As long as I am coaching, I will not do that.”
One of the reporters present at the press conference didn’t hesitate to ask Pastner about some of the players who didn’t see the floor that much this season in freshman forward Kuran Iverson and freshman center Dominic Woodson.
“I love Dominic Woodson. I am two feet in with Dom and I can see greatness in Dominic. On the other hand, Dominic has to have two feet in at all times and that’s on and off the floor. If he has buy in, then he can be a monster for us,” Pastner said.
“As for Kuran, I thought he had his best week since he’s been here in the final week this week. He was really good in everything including at practice and everything else. I felt like when he got in the game against Virginia, he showed a lot of really good signs. I felt like he had a pretty good week.
Even though he didn’t play a lot in that game, when he got in, I felt like he produced.”
Coach Pastner expects for everyone besides the seniors on the team to come back for the 2014-15 basketball season, but if they can’t get with the program he has intact, then he will leave them behind.
“I expect everybody to be back, now everybody has to do their job and that’s not just on the court, that’s in all areas,” Pastner said. “If they do their job in all areas then I expect everyone to be back. But if somebody wants to try to bulk the system and not have two feet in, then this caravan moves forward and you will get left behind.”
Pastner also made it clear that he’s always on the trail for talent that can fit into the system he has placed at Memphis. Recruiting for players is a non-stop job for Pastner and his coaching staff.
“We are actively recruiting players and we are always recruiting. We are recruiting not only for the future but for the 2015 class, 2016 class, and also immediately for the 2014 class.”
For the 2014 recruiting class, coach Pastner has four guys signed to the basketball team for the 2014-15 season. Dominic Magee, (6’1”, 185 lbs.) combo guard from Helen Cox High School in Harvey, LA is the only player Pastner recruited that’s coming out of high school.
His other three recruits are coming from junior colleges and one of them is a homer. Small forward Chris Hawkins (6’5”, 230 lbs.) from Southwest Tennessee Community College, small forward Trahson Burrell (6’7”, 180 lbs.) from Lee Community College in Baytown, TX, and shooting guard Avery Woodson (6’3”, 188 lbs.) from East Mississippi Community College in Scooba, MS.
For the 2015 class, Memphis signed another homer in small forward Keelon Lawson (6’7”, 180 lbs.) from Hamilton High School.