Commentary

CBB Summer Buzz: Memphis

The Tigers have been licking their wounds this summer after a mass exodus

Updated: July 29, 2009, 3:59 PM ET
By Luke Cyphers | ESPN Insider
Memphis

Insider knows you're hot for hoops during the summer, so we bring you a closer look at five programs on the rise, five on the way down and five at a crossroads. Wednesday, we continue this week's look at five schools that are down from a year ago by checking in with Memphis.
Thursday: Arizona.

Memphis Tigers

33-4 (NCAA Sweet 16)

The Tigers won't be as good as last year. Not anywhere near as good. That's just fact.

Memphis lost Tyreke Evans to the lottery of the NBA draft, Robert Dozier to the second round, plus defensive mainstay Antonio Anderson and center Shawn Taggart to graduation. Oh, and a coach who posted an NCAA-record four straight 30-win seasons and took nearly all his top recruits with him across the state line.

New coach Josh Pastner, who assisted the now-departed John Calipari for a year, is a break from the past, and a surprising number of Memphis message board fans are excited. Pastner certainly is. "Every day I've been the head coach, I've enjoyed being the head coach," says the 31-year old, who's in his first top job.

Every day? So far, he's had to deal with fallout from the Derrick Rose test-score investigation, reneged commitments from Cal's kids, Taggart's departure with a year of eligibility left and the sudden exit of Latavious Williams, a top prep forward who opted to seek hoops employment overseas. "There've been ups and downs," Pastner says, "but the whole time I've tried to stay even-keeled and centered. There are so many positives."

To read about those positives, get the skinny on some new recruits and see what's fueling a key juco transfer, you must be an ESPN Insider. Insider

Luke Cyphers is a former senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.