University of Memphis head coach Josh Pastner has a pretty firm grasp on his position, but when the day comes and he steps down from his job there are plenty of fields in which he could pursue a new career.
To name a few: motivational speaker, yoga instructor, Hindu Brahman, and last but not least, a proton.
The common link: Positive energy!
All joking aside, this guy exudes positive energy. It's hard to be in the same room with him without suddenly feeling better about life in general. So, it's not a big surprise that Pastner channels that philosophy into his coaching. When his players bring that high energy and focus to the game, the Tigers can be one of the best teams in the country.
There is one player that the coach points to as an on-court energy beacon, Sophomore Shaq Goodwin. Shaq always has a smile on his face, but don't mistake that grin for weakness. It's because Goodwin truly loves to play the game and he doesn't seem to take a single possession for granted.
"Other players feed off Shaq," said Pastner. Goodwin has totaled 33 points and 16 rebounds in his last two outings. And it's easy to see the other players stepping up, with the Tigers routing both Houston (82-59) and South Florida (80-58).
Sunday afternoon (Jan. 26) against USF at FedExForum, the Tigers started out lethargic, but their press defense lead to a few turnovers right before half. Chris Crawford and Joe Jackson knocked down back-to-back threes and a six-point lead grew to twelve in a flash.
In the second half, the Tigers found their rhythm, knocking down 7 of 12 from beyond the arc. That's the type of shooting the True Blue Nation has been waiting to see.
Memphis won by a margin of 22, but it surely could have been larger had Pastner kept the hot-handed starters in the game down the stretch.
At this point in the season, Pastner doesn't think it's about the "X's and O's but rather the Jimmys and the Joes." Any coach can draw up a play, but it's up to the players to execute it.
Against USF, the Tigers recorded 23 assists on 25 made baskets. That stat is a testament to unselfish play and signals that the players are really gelling right now.
Memphis has 12 regular season games remaining, or as Pastner puts it "480 minutes of basketball," and they look to keep their momentum rolling.
NOTE: The Tigers hit the road for a two game swing to face the UCF Knights (Jan. 29) and the surging SMU Mustangs (Feb. 1).