College basketball has kicked off with elaborate fan events, preseason rankings, expectations and excitement. At this time of the year, every team starts even with a record of 0-0. There will be teams that meet expectations head on, teams that come out of nowhere and shock the nation and teams that will disappoint.
Memphis Tigers are expected to dominate the C-USA again in its last season before departing for the Big East. This should also be the year that the Tigers remain ranked by March and advance well beyond the first round of the NCAA tournament. Memphis is currently ranked No. 16 in USA Today’s preseason coaches poll and No. 17 in AP preseason Top 25.
When Josh Pastner was hired as the head coach in 2009, he was young, this was his first head coaching position and it was going to be a rebuilding process with only 5 returning letter winners. Known mainly for his recruiting abilities, Pastner has a record of 75 victories and is on pace to reach the 100-win plateau this season. If he reaches 100 wins in 2012-13, Pastner would become the only head coach in the program’s history to do so in his first four years.
Five players return from last season’s 26-9 NCAA tournament team that have two or more years of experience and averaged at least 24 minutes per game. Juniors Tarik Black, Chris Crawford, Joe Jackson and sophomore Adonis Thomas have all received preseason honors from C-USA and provide leadership for the newcomers. Also, junior guard Antonia Barton brings additional playing experience.
Patosha Jeffery is the Memphis Tigers Featured Columnist at Rant Sports. Be sure to follow her on Twitter: @patoshajeffery