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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Tiger Basketball Scheduling

Tiger Basketball Scheduling
Posted by Dan Wolken

In his first 44 hours as Memphis basketball coach, the last thing on Josh Pastner’s mind has been scheduling.

But with John Calipari now out of the way, I imagine that many of the old school Tiger basketball people will attempt to convince Pastner what a great idea it would be to renew all the local “rivalries” with schools like Ole Miss, Arkansas, etc. This already came up this morning on talk radio.

Look, not everything Calipari did here was right for the program. But this is one area where I firmly stand with the Calipari philosophy. It’s just common sense. If Pastner’s job is to lock down good local players - the kind of guys who have signed with Ole Miss the last couple years and are being recruited by Arkansas right now - it makes no sense to enhance the presence of those programs in Memphis by playing them. If you want to play an SEC school, play Vanderbilt, who you’re not usually going to recruit against head-to-head. And what’s the fascination anyway with playing Ole Miss in basketball? Best I remember, the last time Ole Miss played here, there were about 12,000 people in FedExForum on a Saturday. Now that Calipari is gone, we’ll see if the Tennessee series generates the same amount of heat it did the last few years.

If Pastner wants to change the scheduling philosophy a bit, a much smarter strategy would be to augment what Calipari did with Gonzaga. Add home-and-homes with UNLV, Butler and Xavier. (Not all of them, not every year, but sprinkled in among the games you’ve got against teams like Georgetown, Syracuse, etc.) Much better move, in my opinion, than Arkansas and Ole Miss.

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