I didn't forget about them, I just don't think they're one of the 25 best teams right now. I think I had them in one of my polls at one point, so they're right on the cusp. But I'm far from sold on Pastner as an actual basketball coach- his recruiting chops are obvious- they don't have any real inside presence, and though the perimeter talent is obvious, it's very young and they don't have any real idea what they're doing right now.
Their game against Kansas tonight showed both sides of it: they hung tough with a legit top five team, but Kansas wasn't pulling away and gave Memphis every opportunity to get into it and they couldn't capitalize.
I was kind of confused by the near-consensus opinion that Memphis was a no-brainer Top 25 team coming into the year and I remain that way. If they had any sort of presence at power forward or center, or if Joe Jackson was a polished talent like Kyrie Irving and not a raw athlete learning how to play the game, I could see it.
Can they eventually live up to their ranking? Sure, but so far I don't see it.
I didn't get to watch the Kansas/Memphis game right now, but one of my best friends is a die hard Memphis fan, and he pretty much said some of the exact same things Game. Said they've got plenty of talent, but he got very aggravated watching their game tonight. Said their youth and inexperienced really showed tonight.
Tarik Black and Will Coleman are the two guys on whom the Memphis season will hinge. Jackson and Barton will get it going. By the middle of the season the Memphis perimeter game will be what it normally is.
But Black and Coleman are the two guys they have who can be effective, physical frontcourt players. If one of those two can be a consistent physical presence and give them 10 and 8 and a guy who makes opponents scared to be in the lane, then they'll be a Top 25 team.
Second, you are right, the jury's still out on Pastner as a coach on the sidelines. He's yet to beat a ranked team during his short tenure, and the team is yet to play together with any sort of cohesiveness. Same problem I always had with Calipari.
They are getting nothing from Coleman or Garcia, but the real problem to me is Witherspoon. The guy seems totally lost. He might be the most talented player in America, but if he's biding his time until he gets to the NBA, he might as well have left at the end of last year.
The young perimeter guys will figure it out, and so will Black. I think that losing last night was better for the team than winning would have been. At least from the comments Black and Will Barton made after the game last night, they seem to have learned an awful lot. When Barton was asked what he needed to work on after last night, he said, "Everything, I need to work on everything. I learned that I'm not working hard enough in practice, and that I need to listen to my coach more." Black said, "We need to be tougher mentally and physically, and I need to stop letting my teammates down by commiting silly fouls and making bad decisions."
I think the Tigers are a top 25 team, but barely. I also think that they have top 10 talent, but Pastner's got to get them to play like it. Again, I think last night went a long way towards giving this young team an idea of what a top 10 team plays like, and I certainly hope they learned from last night's defeat.
1. Duke (10-0) I don't think they win the national title if Kyrie Irving doesn't come back, but I wouldn't rule it out. Andre Dawkins needs to break out as a scorer on the wing because Nolan Smith will have to run the point. And because Nolan Smith, while an excellent college player, isn't a true point guard nor as dynamic of an athlete as Irving, his scoring will suffer running the offense. So they're going to have be a lot more deliberate than they have been, and Dawkins/Curry are gonna have to bring it.
2. Ohio State (8-0) William Buford is too talented to be blending in the way he has been, only averaging 11 points. Jared Sullinger is their go-to guy, sure, but Buford needs to be more assertive for this team to reach their full potential.
3. Tennessee (7-0) Can't ignore a second convincing win away from home against another Big East powerhouse. Scotty Hopson is a scoring machine right now and they out-toughed the toughest program in college basketball.
4. Kansas (9-0) No team in college basketball is more efficient offensively right now. You almost wonder if Josh Selby's arrival in six days might screw them up a little bit because what they have right now is working so perfectly. And it might be a little bit of a transition, but he's too talented for it to not be a big upgrade. None of their last five nonconference games should present a major challenge and should give him ample time to get up to speed before Big XII play starts.
5. Kansas State (9-1) They played at Loyala of Chicago to give Jacob Pullen a game in his hometown before he graduates and it almost bit them in the ass, as they didn't put the Ramblers away until the final minute. Something that I can't put my finger on is missing from this team. Stay tuned on the Wildcats, it could be a weird season for them. Just a gut feeling.
6. UConn (8-0) What's so impressive- and what makes it hard to fathom that it'll continue- about Kemba Walker's scoring run is how incredibly efficient he's been: shooting percentages of .533/.884/.426, averaging 8.6 FT attempts a game and only 2.0 TOs a game? That's about as efficient as you can play basketball, especially when you're pretty much the entire offense.
7. Baylor (6-0) Hard to say if this ranking is right or not- moreso than most teams- because they've played no one. Still, they're playing terrific defense, at No. 7 in defensive efficiency.
8. Pitt (10-1) Offensively they've been terrific behind Gibbs and Wanamaker but their defense hasn't been awesome. Good? Yeah, but not Pitt-level good. It finally cost them against Tennessee. But they're kind of lucky that it didn't cost them against Rhode Island, Maryland or Texas.
9. Syracuse (10-0) Well, they made me look like a jackass in tearing apart Michigan State. Rick Jackson is playing like an All-American, averaging 12.5 boards a game. He's completely transformed himself physically and looks like a pro.
10. Georgetown (9-1) No shame in a close road loss to a quality Temple team, but it did illustrate how dependent they are on Austin Freeman to make perimeter shots: 6-15 from the floor and 1-5 from the arc in the loss to the Owls.
11. San Diego State (10-0) The way they put away Cal, in Berkeley, was pretty impressive. Down two points with 17 minutes left, they outscored the Bears 44-22 the rest of the weay.
12. Illinois (10-1) A pair of underwhelming victories this week, though one of them might qualify as a quality win eventually: Oakland is pretty good. Still, they've brought it defensively against every good team they've played so far this season.
13. Villanova (8-1) Corey Stokes has lit up the Big 5 in the last week: 66 points on 12-26 three-point shooting in wins over St. Joseph's, Penn and La Salle.
14. Michigan State (7-3) I know this little game, Izzo. I'm not fooled. Not again. Not ever again.
15. Missouri (8-1) Are they the cardiac kids of college hoops? OT loss to Georgetown, three-point wins at Oregon and against Vandy.
16. Minnesota (9-1) I can't wait for Minnesota at Ohio State on Jan. 9. Trevor Mbakwe against Jared Sullinger in the paint is going to be a war.
17. Brigham Young (10-0) The Cougars got a convincing signature win over Arizona, with Jimmer Fredette scoring 33 points and putting himself in the national player of the year conversation.
18. Purdue (9-1) Moore and Johnson are scoring over half of Purdue's points. It's not like it was a secret it was going to be this way, but they were probably hoping someone was going to step up as a complimentary scorer. Hasn't happened.
19. Louisville (8-0) With a pair of convincing wins against Butler and UNLV, the Cards have looked legit in the preseason. We'll see for sure in a tough-as-usual Big East. Preston Knowles looks like a go-to scorer.
20. Kentucky (7-2) Who knew Josh Harrellson was this kind of rebounder? He's like this year's Brian Zoubek, averaging 9.0 offensive boards a game, 4.0 of them offensive. They don't have a post presence in terms of scoring but at least he's giving them some size and a terrific pair of rebounders along with Terrence Jones. So, uh....I'm sorry about saying "He's not good" about you last week, Josh.
21. UNLV (9-1) Wouldn't worry too much about a road loss to Louisville.
22. Notre Dame (9-1) They fought Kentucky hard in a loss and got another quality win against Gonzaga. Ben Hansbrough might be the most skilled player in his family. What a shooter.
23. Texas(7-2) Cory Joseph is starting to put it together, which makes this team a Big XII contender.
24. Wisconsin (8-2) A solid road win over Marquette. Jordan Taylor has emerged as the sidekick to Jon Leuer, averaging 15.6 points, 4.5 assists and 3.9 rebounds.
25. Central Florida (8-0) I see no reason to move them out of this spot after putting them here last week.
Gotta commend you for posting a few sentences for the teams every week. I
gave up on that around week 2 lol.
Hell, I still don't even feel comfortable enough to do a top 25. I want to know some detail about more than 10-15 teams, which is the case right now. By the end of December, and especially once conference play gets rolling, I'll know a lot more.
I could rank 16-25, but I would just be piggybacking off the real polls and what you guys do. I don't want to do that.
It's not that hard if you can accept that at least half of it is gonna be wrong within a month.
Which is something I have a very tough time accepting. I'm a prideful person when it comes to college hoops, and I strongly dislike being wrong. I'll probably bite the bullet next week and put out a top 25, and I'm sure I'll have 2-4 teams in ranked 15-25 that will finish the year 18-11 and finish in the middle of the pack.
I'm gonna get back into it either this week or next, also. I sulked for a bit after two losses, both horrible, because while Mizzou is good it is never acceptable to lose to them. It dominated probably half of the conversation with my high school friends when I got together with them before Christmas and make the holidays about about 10 percent worse. I hate Missouri and everyone who has ever cheered for them. If a Missouri fan ever posts here, I will delete every one of their posts out of spite, even if we win the next 10 Braggin' Rights games.