I had a chance to speak with Memphis coach Josh Pastner last night. Didn’t get a chance to post it until now but here you go.
Pastner’s Tigers take on UConn Thursday night here at the FedEx Forum.:
— THEY HAVEN’T WON a conference home game yet (0-1, loss to Cincinnati) but Memphis is already 3-0 on the road in league play and has won at Louisville.
“We’ve been a pretty good road team, dating back to last season,” said Pastner. “But anywhere you go, it’s tough. We’ve got 14 conference games left and they’re all tough.”
— PASTNER SAYS HE’S wary of UConn’s long-range efforts.
“Obviously their two guards are terrific but they can really shoot the 3-ball,” Pastner of the Huskies’ 118 treys this season and their 41.4 percent average from that distance.
His team, by contrast, has struggled from beyond the arc, connecting on only 70 of its 239 shots (29.3 percent) there.
Amida Brimah’s recent big game is a concern for Memphis, too.
“You talk about their big, I can’t pronounce his name but the kid played excellent against Central Florida,” Pastner said. “He was really, really good.”
— HE HAD HIGH praise for the UConn program in general.
“UConn is one of the great names in college basketball. It’s one of the elite programs,” Pastner said. “On top of that you’ve got a great young coach in Kevin Ollie. He’s big-time.”
— I ASKED PASTNER about Kuran Iverson, the Hartford native who is a freshman with the Tigers now. Iverson hasn’t played in the team’s last three games.
“Kuran’s going to be a very good player. This year it’s just a learning process for him,” Pastner said. “We have to change some of the unproductive habits he’s had in the past.”
“There’s been some highs and lows but his best basketball is ahead of him,” Pastner said. “I can’t play everybody. I’d like to give Kuran more time.”
— PASTNER HAS A good amount of history against the Huskies, most when he was at Arizona.
Pastner played against the Huskies Dec. 7, 1999, when UConn beat Arizona 78-69 in Chicago as part of the “Great Eight.”
He was also an assistant with the Wildcats during a wildly entertaining game in Tucson, Ariz., on Jan. 26, 2002. UConn beat Arizona a 100-98 in overtime that day in a game that featured a half-dozen future NBA players.
Pastner said he knows that game, as well as another memorable UConn-Arizona tilt.
“I remember it well,” Pastner said of the 2002 affair. “I also remember a game up in Storrs when Richie Ballesteros called Loren Woods for goaltending.”
He’s speaking, of course, of a 71-69 UConn win over Arizona at Gampel Pavilion on Dec. 9, 2000.
Woods did swat a shot by UConn’s Tony Robertson in the final seconds and Ballesteros (a Pac-10 official) called it a goaltend. Full disclosure: It really wasn’t. UConn got a break, and a win.
“It happens,” Pastner said.