Heart, desire and passion are traits to have in order to be a great team. Does the University of Memphis Tigers team have what it takes to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament?
After three early season losses the critics were up in arms with the coaching of head coach Josh Pastner. The Tigers (14-3, 3-0 CUSA) have won eight straight games (most consecutive wins under Pastner). The Tigers have had double digit leads in many games this season, but they have not had what it takes to maintain those large leads.
Will the current success of the program translate into the postseason? Here are “Fact” and “Fiction” arguments to the questions facing Tiger hoops fans:
The Tigers are loaded with talent?
Fact: Every game someone different steps up to get the Tigers over the hump. Chris Crawford is the latest player to step up. In the 60-50 win over Harvard, Crawford scored 13 points and he scored eight of the Tigers last ten points to seal the win. The Tigers have several players averaging double points (Tarik Black, 10.5, Joe Jackson 13.9 and Adonis Thomas 11.1).
Fiction: Talent alone does not assure a team will be successful. The Tigers don’t have a player they can consistently go to in the final minutes of the game to put it on ice.
The Tigers are a team of intensity?
Fact: The Tigers have the ability to score in bunches. They also have the ability to shut other teams down by playing tenacious defense.
Fiction: The Tigers at times play the best twenty minutes of basketball. At other times they seem to get bored and allow other teams back into the game. In the last two games the Tigers have let 20 point leads disappear.
The Tigers play to the level of their completion?
Fact: The Tigers have been in every game except for the VCU game, the Tigers have not lost by more than double digits. All of the team’s three losses have been to teams have been ranked at one point in the season.
Fiction: A great team does not take any team for granted. A great team always keeps its foot and the gas and does not allow a team to consistently come back from huge deficits. The Tigers may play great teams tough, but under Pastner they have yet to defeat a ranked team (0-10).
The Tigers are mentally tough?
Fact: The Tigers find a way to win games. It does not matter if they are down by ten or up by ten the Tigers feel they can win every game they stop onto the court with.
Fiction: On several occasions several Tigers have been seen pouting or complaining about something. The most recent incident involves Black. Black was upset with his lack of playing time in Harvard game and appeared to be distant when the team made their final push for victory.
These are just a few questions that will not be answered until this season has been completed. Will the Tigers be mentioned as one of the school’s best team? Only time will reveal the answer to these questions.
Terry Davis is a regular contributor for MemphiSport. Follow him @Terryd515.