Blog Entry

Memphis is a mess Wesley Witherspoon suspended

Posted on: January 13, 2011 8:16 pm
Edited on: January 13, 2011 8:27 pm
Posted by Matt Norlander

For the second time this season, second-year coach Josh Pastner has shown he's not afraid to run the Memphis men's basketball program by his exact, no-tolerance rules.

At least that's how it looks from the outside.

Who knows how long it's taking for Pastner to come to these domineering decisions privately — what series of actions behind closed doors are piling up — but at the very least the Memphis coach isn't letting things wiggle from his grip from a public perspective.

First it was Jelan Kendrick who earned a suspension under Pastner's rule in November. He eventually left the program and landed at Mississippi last month. And now, tonight, it's junior Wesley Witherspoon who's being put on ice for an indefinite amount of time. This coming one night after Memphis lost for the second straight season at mediocre Southern Methodist.

The news broke a short while ago, when Pastner informed the media after a Tigers practice.

From the outside, it seems Pastner's basically saying, if this team is going to lose, it's going to do it with the future of this program and the guys who are fully invested. That anyone who's immature, lacks leadership and embodies apathy, those guys, they can take a hike and do some soul searching. That's what Pastner's put in front of Witherspoon now.

Will he be back? After Kendrick's jettison act, who knows for certain? This team is young and talented and we all expected some drama. Who knew we'd get a fireworks show like this, though?

The 20-year-old, 6-9 Witherspoon was thought to be the leader of this team back in October. But the forward's had far too may non-impactful performances throughout Memphis' 12-4 season so far. He's been anything but a model alpha for this group. Many close to the program have seen the proof first-hand: he doesn't work hard, he doesn't guard anybody and he generally doesn't care too much about which way the ship sails.

Basically the feeling is losing doesn't bother him. And with Pastner, that's something he won't tolerate — all the way to the point where he'll temporarily remove a guy from the team.

The second-year coach is trying to change the tone. Pastner's a young guy too (33), so it's all the more impressive he's so insistent with his team like this. He knows this decision immediately creates a swirling melodrama around his already unstable team.

Tells all you need to know about how fed up Pastner is with Witherspoon.

Photo: AP

Since: Oct 7, 2011
Posted on: October 18, 2011 9:38 am

Memphis is a mess Wesley Witherspoon suspended

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Since: Aug 24, 2009
Posted on: January 15, 2011 1:34 pm

Good job Coach

Finally a coach who gets it they all say the name on the front of the jersey is what matters but none really imply it. I love Josh for holding these young men accountable when up untill now  they were probally catered to in every way, they will hopefully grow and learn from this maybe not now but when they r done and cantg make a pro roster cause of off the court things they will understand exactly why he did this. 

Since: Sep 4, 2009
Posted on: January 15, 2011 12:09 am

Memphis is a mess Wesley Witherspoon suspended

I say Bravo to Coach Pastner!!! He's earned my espect, no doubt about that. These young men need to learn that it is a privilege to play College Basketball...not a right!!!

Since: Jan 15, 2007
Posted on: January 14, 2011 9:50 pm

Memphis is a mess Wesley Witherspoon suspended

Can't really add anything to what you guys have said. It's Pastner's team, and although he was initially fond of saying that wasn't the case (it's the players' team, it's the city's team, etc.) he's making no bones about it, now! "Get off my cloud, Wesley. Let me know if you come back around -- we'd be glad to have you -- but if you don't, have a nice life."

Since: Jun 28, 2009
Posted on: January 14, 2011 9:17 pm

Memphis is a mess Wesley Witherspoon suspended

Nice post!  I am curious to see if team chemistry improves without Wesley in the game.  Maybe someone will finally step up and really lead this team on the floor.
I am 100% behind Pastner on this.  I still think he is going to end up being a great coach.

Since: Jun 13, 2009
Posted on: January 13, 2011 11:00 pm

Memphis is a mess Wesley Witherspoon suspended

I appreciate a thoughtful response and one from a historical perspective as well.  I remember all of which you write.  That hand check was one of the worst calls I had ever seen.  Henderson was great and Garner developed well.  This team has extremely talented individuals.  They are more talented than the '93 group.  Because of this, I believe they still have the chance to make some noise.  Witherspoon has a lot to lose by not buying into this team.  He has one year of eligibility left and spending it elsewhere would limit his chances of playing pro ball.  He needs to show the scouts that the knee is okay.  He was a projected first round pick over the summer.  He still can recover that with an excellent showing from here on out.  I really think he wants that.  He just has to play like it.  Let's see if this team will show some determination now.  They have too many episodes of brilliance for it to be a fluke.  They need to bring the intensity every play for 40 minutes.  I love the Tigers, win or lose, winning sure helps me sleep easier.

Since: Jan 13, 2011
Posted on: January 13, 2011 9:41 pm

Memphis is a mess Wesley Witherspoon suspended

This year reminds me so much of the 1993 season when Memphis had a "super talented" freshman class of Sylvester Ford (McDonald's All American), Chris Garner, Cedric Henderson, and Johnny Miller. Ford was slow and overrated, eventually transferred to LSU and was A marginal college player, Johnny Miller a total bust, finHshing out at a D2 school, and the Tigers had a losing record that year, with inexplicable, difficult to figure losses to poor teams.By 1995, Garner and Henderson combined with David Vaughn and several other quality recruits to finish 1 game away from the Final Four, losing to Arkansas by a Chris Garner handcheck foul. Bottom line...some of these "great recruits" will leave, transfer, Pastner will year by year add to this core, and the Tigers will be truly competitve on the national scene in 2 years.BE PATIENT TIGER FANS AND TRUST !!

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