Posted on: December 31, 2009 2:40 pm

Headed to Tennessee-Memphis at FedExForum

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- I'm about to make my way to FedExForum for this afternoon's game between Memphis and Tennessee. In a bit of a surprise (at least to me), the Tigers are a slight favorite. And it should be a fun environment. But this edition of Memphis-UT still isn't nearly as interesting as the past two Memphis-UT games played at FedExForum.

Four years ago the pregame chatter included Tennessee's Dane Bradshaw, a Memphis native, talking about how he was less scared of rowdy frat guys at LSU than he was a "gang-banger in Memphis in the stands." Predictably, that did not go over well in Memphis. But it made for a fun night. And two years ago was the classic No. 1 vs. No. 2 game in which the second-ranked Vols dealt the top-ranked Tigers their first loss of the season. That game tipped late on a Saturday night, and all day Saturday downtown Memphis was like a party complete with the kind of tailgating and bar-hopping that would rival an SEC football game.

Today, the build-up doesn't really compare.

Blame the absence of John Calipari.

But, like I said before, it should still be a fun afternoon.

We'll see whether Josh Pastner can get his first notable victory.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: November 16, 2009 5:11 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2009 5:13 pm

Pastner adds fourth top 35 prospect at Memphis

Josh Pastner added a fourth top 35 prospect Monday when Tarik Black committed to Memphis.

MaxPreps.com ranks Black No. 35 in the Class of 2010.

The 6-7 forward joins Will Barton (ranked No. 3 at MaxPreps.com), Joe Jackson (ranked No. 11 at MaxPreps.com) and Jelan Kendrick (ranked No. 16 at MaxPreps.com) as high school stars who have pledged their allegiance to Memphis. Combined with fellow signees Chris Crawford, Antonio Barton and Hippolyte Tsafack, they comprise what is almost certainly now the nation's No. 1 recruiting class and perhaps the best recruiting class for a first-year coach in the history college basketball.

Pastner is in his first year at Memphis.

He's 1-0 heading into Tuesday night's game against Kansas.

Worth noting is that Jackson, Kendrick, Black and Crawford played together with the Memphis Magic this summer. They won the prestigious Adidas Super 64 tournament in Las Vegas. The other notable player from that team is Adonis Thomas, a top 10 prospect in the Class of 2011 who plays at Melrose High in Memphis. He's also considering Memphis (along with Florida, Ohio State, North Carolina and a host of other schools).
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: November 14, 2009 7:30 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2009 7:44 pm

Pastner adds third top 20 recruit to Memphis

Jelan Kendrick committed to Memphis on Saturday, giving first-year coach Josh Pastner his third top 20 national recruit and by extension a class that is arguably the country's best.

Kendrick is a 6-foot-6 wing from just outside of Atlanta. He had previously stated he would wait until May to sign, but those plans changed during a weekend visit to Memphis. Kendrick is the third prospect ranked in MaxPreps.com's top 20 to commit to the Tigers. The others are Will Barton (No. 3 at MaxPreps.com) and Joe Jackson (No. 11 at MaxPreps.com). Memphis also has commitments from Chris Crawford, Antonio Barton and Hippolyte Tsafack.

North Carolina is the only other school with three top 20 recruits. The trio of elite prospects committed to the Tar Heels are Harrison Barnes (No. 4 at MaxPreps.com), Reggie Bullock (No. 5 at MaxPreps.com) and Kendall Marshall (No. 13 at MaxPreps.com).
Posted on: October 18, 2009 4:42 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2009 12:11 am

Thoughts on Madness events across the nation

I'm back home after a quick trip to Kansas , doing some reading and trying to catch up on what happened at some other Midnight Madness festivities. Seems a lot of places had record nights -- among them Michigan State.

The Breslin Center was filled to capacity with 14,759 fans.

That's the first sellout at MSU in Midnight Madness history.

Tom Izzo entered in an Indy car because the 2010 Final Four is in Indianapolis.

"I know what it's like to drive an Indy car," Izzo told the crowd. "I hope I know what it's like to play in Indianapolis."

Meantime, Clemson's Oliver Purnell rapelled from the top of Littlejohn Coliseum, Syracuse's Jim Boeheim drove a police car into the Carrier Dome (Was he looking for Eric Devendorf?), and Kentucky's John Calipari gave a 10-minute speech to 24,000 fans at Rupp Arena, and he delivered the following line: "Our history is rooted in our coaches: Rupp and Hall and Smith."

That's Adolph Rupp, Joe B. Hall and Tubby Smith.

Notably missing: Former UK coach Rick Pitino.

I'm certain it was not an oversight.

Anyway, a scan of the country showed there were many great events. But the neatest of all Madness ceremonies might've been at Memphis, where more than 18,000 fans filled FedExForum to celebrate a 32-year-old head coach and his eight healthy scholarship players who are unranked and enduring a period of NCAA probation. Understand, it is not normal for the Tigers to fill FedExForum for Memphis Madness. Even when Calipari was the coach, Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts were the stars, and the team was ranked No. 1 in CBSSports.com's preseason Top 25 (and one) , the building was not full for this event. But on Friday night the doors had to be closed and people were turned away, and I was enjoying a conversation with former Missouri State coach Barry Hinson -- now the director of external relations at Kansas -- when I got a text about the scene and shared the news.

"I'm so happy for Josh," Hinson said. "The fans were making a statement, weren't they?"

Absolutely, it was a statement.

It was a statement to Calipari and the nation, a statement from a city determined to convince itself (and the prospects in attendance) that it will move along fine despite a rough few months. Since the end of last season, the Tigers have lost their coach, recruiting class and 2008 Final Four banner. They also watched one recruit (Latavious Williams) not enroll to pursue a professional career overseas, and one player (Shawn Taggart) not return to pursue a professional career, well, who knows where?

Additionally, Angel Garcia tore his ACL in an offseason workout.

Memphis is not picked to win C-USA.

And yet more than 18,000 people still made the trip downtown to celebrate the past and the future, and it's worth noting that a five-minute montage shown on the video board featured pictures and clips of every relevant former player and coach ... except Calipari, who was omitted completely.

"It  was a great statement by the city," Pastner said by phone. "I was blown away. It was unreal. And that's what's great about Memphis Basketball, and it's what I've tried to tell people. Memphis Basketball was good way before I was even born, and it's going to be good long after I'm gone. Memphis basketball is not about one individual or two individuals. It has a rich tradition, and the fans are really proud of the program, and they showed it [Friday] night."
Posted on: October 1, 2009 6:26 pm
Edited on: October 1, 2009 6:29 pm

Memphis adds another local recruit

Chris Crawford announced Thursday that he will remain home for college and play at Memphis.

"I just really didn't want to leave," said Crawford, a senior at Sheffield in Memphis. "I want to play in front of my family."

Crawford (ranked 66th nationally at Rivals.com) is the fourth prospect from the Class of 2010 to commit to Memphis. He joins Will Barton (ranked 11th nationally), Joe Jackson (ranked 12th nationally) and Antonio Barton, meaning Memphis now has three top 75 commitments.

Crawford and Jackson played summer ball together for the Memphis Magic Elite.

The 6-foot-4 guard hit the winning shot in the title game of the adidas Super 64 tournament in Las Vegas.

There have been some questions about whether Crawford will qualify academically to compete as a freshman. But a source who has seen the transcript told CBSSports.com this week that Crawford "will be fine" and added that there's no reason to think he won't be eligible. Crawford was also considering Tennessee and Mississippi State.
Posted on: September 12, 2009 9:01 am
Edited on: September 12, 2009 9:05 am

Jackson makes it official, commits to Memphis

Joe Jackson committed to Memphis as expected Friday, meaning Josh Pastner now has two top 10 recruits from the Class of 2010 despite the fact that he's still yet to coach his first game.

"I wanted to stay in the city and be a part of the Memphis tradition," Jackson said at a makeshift press conference held outside of the Finch Center practice facility on the University of Memphis campus. "I'm excited."

Jackson is a 5-foot-11 point guard from White Station High in Memphis. The National Hoops Report ranks him No. 9 in the Class of 2010. Will Barton, a 6-5 guard from Baltimore, is the other elite prospect already committed to Memphis. The National Hoops Report ranks him No. 6 in the Class of 2010.

Worth noting: Rivals.com updated its school rankings Friday. It listed Memphis' class of Joe Jackson, Will Barton and Antonio Barton (yes, they're brothers) as the nation's third-best class, behind only Ohio State's and Syracuse's.

Also worth noting: Among the people who attended Jackson's press conference was Tarik Black, a 6-7 forward from Ridgeway High in Memphis. Rivals.com ranks him as the 47th-best prospect in the Class of 2010. He's uncommitted and still considering a number of schools -- among them Memphis, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Alabama.

Jackson's commitment means six of the National Hoops Report's top 10 prospects are now committed.

Here's an updated list:

1. Harrison Barnes (uncommitted)
2. Perry Jones (committed to Baylor )
3. Brandon Knight (uncommitted)
4. Jared Sullinger (committed to Ohio State )
5. Fab Melo (committed to Syracuse )
6. Will Barton (committed to Memphis )
7. Reggie Bullock (committed to North Carolina )
8. Adreian Payne (uncommitted)
9. Joe Jackson (committed to Memphis )
10. Tony Mitchell (uncommitted)
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: September 11, 2009 12:52 pm
Edited on: September 11, 2009 4:22 pm

Memphis' Garcia to miss season with torn ACL

An MRI performed Friday showed that Memphis forward Angel Garcia has a torn ACL that will force him to miss the entire 2009-10 season, Tiger coach Josh Pastner confirmed to CBSSports.com.

Garcia tore the ACL in a Thursday workout.

"It was just one of those weird things," Pastner said. "There was no contact. He didn't jump. His knee just gave out on him, and I just feel sick for the young man."

Garcia is a highly rated recruit from the Class of 2008 who was forced to sit out last season because of academics. The 6-foot-11 forward was expected to play a major role this season given the lack of big men on the Memphis roster. Junior college transfer Will Coleman and senior Pierre Henderson-Niles are the only conventional post players currently in the program.

"We've got a good nucleus," Pastner said. "But we don't have any depth."
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: September 11, 2009 8:40 am
Edited on: September 11, 2009 9:06 am

Pastner to add second Top 10 recruit tonight

Josh Pastner is about to land another elite recruit.

This time it's a local product.

"I am committing TONIGHT at the Larry Finch Center at 6:30 pm," likely McDonald's All-American Joe Jackson posted on his Facebook page early Friday. "Come support me and one of the biggest decisions [of] my life. ... Kansas, TN, Memphis. What [is it going to] be?"

For those unfamiliar, the Larry Finch Center -- technically the Larry O. Finch Center -- is the practice facility on the University of Memphis campus. So it should come as no surprise that multiple sources have told CBSSports.com that Jackson will verbally commit to Memphis tonight (over Kansas and Tennessee) and provide what should be a wild scene in his hometown.

"Joe loves the city and he wants to be a Tiger," one source told CBSSports.com. "He was always going to be a Tiger."

Thus, this is hardly a shock. Things have been headed this way for months, honestly, and Jackson spent much of the past week dropping hints on Facebook . Even so, it's still huge news in the recruiting world if only because it means Pastner will now have commitments from two top 10 prospects from the Class of 2010 despite the fact that the 31-year-old former Arizona player is still yet to coach his first game.

Serious question: Has something like this ever happened?

"The closest thing would be John Calipari [getting] John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins [this past offseason before ever coaching a game at Kentucky], but obviously Cal has coached [games] before," said longtime recruiting analyst Justin Young, who runs the National Hoops Report. "But other than that, no sir."

Memphis will now become the nation's only school with commitments from two Top 10 prospects.

One of those commitments is Will Barton, a 6-foot-5 guard from Baltimore.

The National Hoops Report ranks him sixth in the Class of 2010.

The other is obviously Joe Jackson, a 5-11 point guard from Memphis.

The National Hoops Report ranks him ninth in the Class of 2010.
Category: NCAAB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com