The Memphis Tigers have a lot of talent on their roster, but their is such a thing as too much of a good thing. In the Tigers’ case that is having four senior guards.
Josh Pastner has this crazy idea that playing all four guards at the same time will work. Granted, he rarely goes with all four guards at once, but he likes to unleash the quartet at least once per game, and he usually has at least three of them in at all times.
I guess I understand Pastner’s passion for wanting to spread the floor, or maybe he has a thing for seniority. Either way, this team works best when Shaq Goodwin is getting touches in the post, Joe Jackson is getting in the lane and the Tigers are shooting a minimal number of three-point shots.
On Thursday evening Memphis knocked off the Houston Cougars 82-59 in large part because of Goodwin’s monster first half (16 points) and Jackson controlling the game. Goodwin finished the game with 20 points and six boards, Jackson chipped in with 18 points and seven assists, while only committing two turnovers.
This sort of thunder and lightning attack from Goodwin and Jackson is what gets Memphis going. When other bigs have to collapse on Goodwin, he can find cutters, or Austin Nichols on the opposite block, and if the defense decides to stay honest, then Goodwin can go nuts in the post.
Jackson gives them explosiveness from the wing. His shot has been off this season, but he has been great at finishing at the rim and in the lane with floaters, as well as finding open teammates. Chris Crawford and Michael Dixon benefit most from Jackson’s ability to get in the lane.
When this team is at its most dangerous, it is because Jackson is the best player on the floor and Goodwin isn’t too far behind him. When Memphis gets too caught up in long jumpshots and contested shots in the lane, it becomes grossly inefficient.
It also gets visibly angry with each other and you can literally see the disgust on the court. When this happens, the team gets no movement on the offensive end, it gets loose with the ball and it has loads of turnovers. You add all three of those components up and you have yourself a big L in the standings.
The Memphis team that you saw on the floor on Thursday night is the Memphis team that will compete with Louisville for the American Athletic Conference title. The other grotesque thing that you see from time to time in jerseys that say Memphis on the front, is the team that was blown out by Cincinnati.
As long as Memphis continues to get Goodwin involved in the offense, and the assertive Joe Jackson, it is one of the best in the country. Now it just needs to figure out how to do that every game.