Josh Pastner’s Memphis Tigers exited last season’s NCAA tournament after a second-round loss to St. Louis in Columbus. But the Tigers will bring back most of their firepower next year, although they’ll miss versatile wing Will Barton. Still, they’re stacked and ready for another run to the Conference USA title in their last season as a member of the league. They will be headed to the Big East in 2013-14.
Pastner recently spoke with ESPN.com about all things Tigers basketball.
What are your expectations for William 'Shaq' Goodwin (ESPN Recruiting's No. 31 prospect in the 2012 class)?
Josh Pastner: I think Shaq’s going to have an opportunity to make an impact. I was really impressed that he made the USA 18-and-under team. I think that says a lot about his motor and his drive because he was the guy that wasn’t in basketball shape right away and here he is going to a higher altitude [tryouts were held in Colorado Springs, Colo.] and played his way to making the team. That’s a great credit to him. We’re counting on him and expecting him to help us. Regardless if he’s a freshman, we’re going to count on him to produce for us.
Will Barton (18.1 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.9 apg, 1.4 spg, 0.7 bpg) did so much for your squad last season. How do you replace him?
JP: It’s not about the points that we’ll miss. The main thing is the rebounds. He was getting eight, nine rebounds per game. We’ve got to replace those. We’ll be able to replace scoring but we’ve got to replace the rebounding. And that’s a big thing. The other thing with Will is he shot [51 percent] from the field. He was very, very efficient, so anything we try to replace that we lost with him, we’ve got to continue to be very efficient. But the most important thing is on the glass.
How have you handled the realignment talks and maneuvering this offseason with Memphis preparing for its move to the Big East in 2013-14?
JP: You know, I just kind of go with the flow. I don’t even feel the effects right now because our focus is only for this upcoming season, which we’re in Conference USA. Not until this season is finished do I really start shifting my focus because I’ve got to focus on Conference USA for this season. Now, we’re making sure we prepare for the future. … But any of the changes don’t really take place for us until 2013-14.
How did injuries, especially Adonis Thomas’ ankle problem, impact your program last season?
JP: We had two of our starters out with injuries in Adonis Thomas, who’s a pro prospect, and Charles Carmouche. Those guys we missed for the second half of the season. That’s why I was very proud of our team. We were able to win 20 of 23 games, still won 26 games, win the conference regular-season championship with two of our starters down. That’s a credit to our guys really stepping up and picking up slack where slack needed to be picked up.
What’s the ceiling for a healthy Adonis Thomas?
JP: I think Adonis can be very, very good. He’s a high level player. And he’s a high-level character guy. You put those two together ... that’s a great package and so I’m really excited for this upcoming year with Adonis.