|Photo Credits to ESPN.com|
When that arose, nothing about Memphis' program spelled success. The Tigers lost their recruits that initially committed to putting on a Memphis jersey. When Calipari exited most of the recruits trailed him to Kentucky while one wandered off to the Jayhawks.
That took Memphis out of the nations spotlight and the story was shaping up to be a sad one about a successful program hitting rock bottom.
Little did we know, Josh Pastner was there to revive the program and feasibly make it better than it was foregoing
Coach Pastner was looked on to be a rebuilding coach. He was hired to a team that had lost three key starters from the year preceding; not to mention, most of the top recruits decommitted from the program. This indicated Pastner had to rely on the current players, Miami Dade Junior College player Will Coleman as well as Duke transfer Elliot Williams.
Just like everyone else, the Tigers proved me wrong. The Tigers lost the Conference USA streak, didn't make the tournament and didn't win the conference championship but Memphis fans did see potential in their newly acquired Head Coach.
As the 09-10' season progressed you could witness how much Coach Pastner enlightened Williams game. He was a pure combo guard and Coach Pastner played Williams at each guard position to utilize his versatility.
Williams was a very key element to the surprise Memphis brought the NCAA. It wasn't mind-boggling to assume Williams would forgo another season of College Basketball to turn pro. Coach Pastner had recruited one of the top players in the class that played the same position and Williams progressed so much during the season, it wasn't a doubt in Memphis that Williams wasn't league-bound.
Usually when teams lose a star-player they cringe until they pinpoint another caliber athlete. However, Memphis already understood who would step in and fill the void for Williams--Will Barton.
Coach Pastner brought in vaguely the best class this year. The Tigers have four highly-touted recruits that'll spark the backcourt, but you can't forget about the other recruits as well because the frontcourt looks bright with young star Tarik Black.
With most of the summer gone, Memphis looked set with their nucleus of star-power. However, Memphis basketball took an unexpected turn.
Freshman guard Will Barton was declared academically ineligible and that was anything but good news for the Tigers.
With Barton ineligible, the Tigers will have to rely on Jelan Kendrick to fill Williams void. It's not a bad thing by any means but Kendrick isn't as explosive or doesn't display the aggressive mentality similar to Barton.
You'd think the Tigers were over the hurdle but it seems like they tripped. However, they say "What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger."
I think that should be Memphis' inspiration this upcoming season. The Tigers program has been through a lot in the past few years. The program lost their coach and NCAA infractions were amongst Memphis.
Beforehand, Pastner seemed to have all the solutions to the problems at Memphis. I assume that he will also overcome the current situation, despite the loss of talent.
Memphis acquired Joe Jackson, Kendrick, Chris Crawford and Antonio Barton to play in the backcourt beside Barton (Will).
With the four other guards not named Will Barton collectively, Witherspoon on the wing, Coleman, Black and Hippolyte Tsafack as soon as he is eligible, the Tigers will compete at a high-level.
The Tigers are definitely missing a big piece of their roster without Barton. Barton was endeavored to be the leader, scorer and would have been looked on in late-game situations.
Playing basketball in 10-11' is not out of the picture. He has submitted an appeal that might go in favor. Although Barton was the most talented player in the recruiting class, the depth and talent instilled on their roster will still be tremendous.
Without Barton they're good but with him, they're really good! Memphis will have to rely on their recruiting class and experienced players to fill the role if Barton's appeal doesn't go as planned.
They'll have to step up, show heart, composure and will to succeed to hurdle Barton's eligibility problems. I assume they will do just that. They did a decent job with it last season, why not the upcoming season with more talent on their roster?