Memphis Basketball Fans Watched the Birth of the Pastner Era Last Night in St. Louis


Last night at the Scottrade Center, University of Memphis basketball fans watched the birth of the Josh Pastner Era.

Memphis played Kansas in the regular season game (and rematch of the '08 NCAA championship), with the Kansas edging the Tigers 57-55.

Kansas was supposed to crush a scorched Memphis team, which has no John Calipari as head coach, no bench-depth and no big-name talent with a no-name coach. But the end of the game, Kansas head coach Bill Self had nothing short of relief in his eyes, as his team edged out Memphis and its wonder-boy of a coach in Pastner.

Josh Pastner - IMAGE VIA
Kansas didn't look like a Number 1 team and Memphis didn't look like one unranked. Bill Self looked tense and worried on the bench while the Memphis' young Josh Pastner, looked cool, calm and collected, pushing his seven-man rotation hard.

When Kansas' star Sherron Collins left the game with a cramp, the wheels began to fall off for the Jayhawks. In 32 minutes, Collins committed just two of Kansas' 21 turnovers. His young replacements? Not so much: Tyshawn Taylor ditched the ball seven times, Xavier Henry four. It's a question of maturity for Kansas, as it moves ahead.

On the other side, Memphis looked composed even when it owned a field-goal percentage of 34 percent. Duke transfer and Memphis native Elliot Williams was Mario Chalmers-esque, only to be cut short with his three-point shot at the end of the game hitting the back of the rim.

Both teams lacked offense, but the intriguing element of this new Pastner Era was a 68.8 percent free-throw percentage -- something the Tigers struggled with under Calipari.

When this game was originally pitched and arranged, it was meant to be a titanic matchup of Number 1 versus Number 2, and billed as the rematch of the ages. It was supposed to be a loaded Kansas team and a loaded Memphis team going head-to-head.

But Calipari bolted for Kentucky and took his recruits with him. Memphis was nailed by the NCAA for knowingly playing Derrick Rose after he violated league policy having a stand-in for the ACT, something that is being appealed, and some say the NCAA should take blame for clearing Rose to play.

The Pastner era, for now at least, will be associated with its surprising start in St. Louis. What we know now is that this season, Memphis isn't going to fade away after last year's time in the spotlight.

Even Self, after his Jayhawks won last night, said, "If they do not make the tournament this year I will be surprised."

Kevin Coll is an avid blogger who owns, where he writes on entertainment news. Follow him on twitter @kent21685 and @fusedfilm.

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