Core Things to Look For as Memphis Moves to the Big East

This article originally appeared in the March 2012 issue of MemphiSport

As the Tiger basketball team winds up another season in Conference USA, it’s time to look ahead to how things will start to the look in the future as they move to the Big East. Here are a few things Tiger fans will want to keep an eye on in the future as the scene begins to change a bit.

1. Expectations:  Automatic 20 win seasons will be a thing of the past. The prospect of an undefeated  conference run will be laughable. Can Memphis fans, who are notorious for thinking their team is often better than it is, accept that finishing above .500 in conference should be considered a success?

2. Coaching: Whether it be Josh Pastner or someone else at the helm, in game decisions will become ever more crucial for the Tigers.  A poorly used timeout here or there, lack of the right play called, or a bad substitution could end up costing 4 or 5 games a year. So whoever runs the team will have be on top of his game. And let’s say you do need a new coach at some point. Is the Memphis job now more or less attractive?

3. Tournament at MSG: The Big East Conference Tournament is played perennially at Madison Square Garden. Gone will be home court advantage in the postseason and along with that will likely be regular conference tournament titles. Not being able to host the tournament is also a bit of a hit on the local economy. Will that be offset by teams in big markets making consistent trips to Memphis?

4. Travel: Depending on how the conference ends up looking logistically, Memphis may end up regularly traveling to both coasts. Will this lead to tired legs and some subpar performances? And will Tiger supporters be able to make as many road games as they are used to being able to attend?

5. Scheduling: What kinds of teams will the Tigers put on their no conference slate. It now becomes less important to have national programs on the schedule, so where does that lead? Will there be more of an effort to get local rivals on the bill or will there be more cupcakes?

6. Recruiting: Memphis has been able to recruit elite talent for some time now, but it will be required to perhaps turn it up a notch to even be a middle of the pack team in the league. Will recruiting become harder or easier in the Big East? Just like the coaching aspect, selling the program to potential recruits can no longer include guaranteeing a kid that he’ll win 20 plus games just by being on the floor.

7. National Perception: It will be hard to play the woe is me card and to keep complaining about the lack of respect for the program. Memphis has tended to be a fringe team, an outsider so to speak, and now they are joining the big boys club. Many teams relish the position of being able to have a chip on their shoulder as they always seemed to get overlooked. But that situation will definitely change now. Although you may not quite be seen as Goliath, you are definitely no longer David.

8. Attendance: Memphis has long been a program that draws well, but with such a large arena to fill, there are usually seats to be had for most any game, especially against league foes. Will more big time opponents regularly visiting FedExForum actually make tickets almost virtually impossible to come by?

9. Athletic Director: Who will lead the program going forward? It is possible that more schools will still leave the Big East. Leadership will be crucial during this time. Say what you want about R.C. Johnson, he has kept the basketball program successful. From the hiring of Calipari and Pastner to finally landing Memphis a spot in The Big East, he has kept Memphis on the map.

Michael Jones is the Tiger basketball beat writer for MemphiSport. You can follow him on Twitter @MemphisMichaelJ. 

-Photo courtesy of the BIG EAST Conference/American Eagle Outfitters


  1. Justin hawkins says:

    How can I get the mag up here in Michigan

  2. Justin hawkins says:

    How can I get the mag up here in Michigan

  3. Larry Coleman says:

    This was a really good read…although the bit about a potential coaching change…It is not happen because overall we are very pleased with Coach Pastner and Company…But overall this was really balance article…Keep up the good work…

  4. Larry Coleman says:

    This was a really good read…although the bit about a potential coaching change…It is not happening because overall we are very pleased with Coach Pastner and Company…But overall this was a really balance article…Keep up the good work…

    Must learn to proof before submitting…so feel free to delete my comment…

  5. Linda Mainord says:

    These are very good points; however, Memphis fans are true fans and will support the Tigers regardless of what conference they are in, who is the coach, who is the AD, and who we play. For me, living in Florida, I look forward to having the ability to view games on channels other than CSS. It will also be good to renew games with old rivals. Yes, we will be against the “big boys” but we will be fine and continue to produce great basketball teams. As far as recruiting, the opportunity for prospects to play quality teams on national TV will be a positive variable for the Tigers. Lots to look forward to in the Big East.

  6. S. Stockdale says:

    UM going to the Big East will make basketball recruiting more difficult for area colleges, specifically SEC schools. UM football recruiting should improve dramatically!

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