Head coach Anthony Grant’s time in Tuscaloosa ended with a thud, as his Alabama Crimson Tide finished the regular season and SEC Tournament with a 19-14 record, earning a trip to the NIT. Most would see that as a victory for a school more recognized for their football program than basketball. But Alabama has had the talent to do far better than a trip to the NIT for a long time, yet Grant’s teams still continued to underperform.
Grant’s been fired for just one game, and the Crimson Tide have already shown out in his absence. In their opening NIT game with the Illinois Fighting Illini, Alabama led the 2015 NCAA Tournament bubble team 46-22 after the first half, finishing with a 79 -58 win.
Whether that massive win has more to do with pressure being off of the team to succeed rather than Grant’s departure remains to be seen, but no matter how far this team goes in the NIT, it’s time for the school to start the process of bringing a good coach to Tuscaloosa.
The Crimson Tide should look no further than Memphis Tigers‘ head coach Josh Pastner.
Memphis had yet another disappointing season, not even making the NIT despite the plethora of talent on their roster, and the fans are not happy. Social media, blogs and even published pieces are calling for the end of the Pastner era in Memphis. The area is far too talent-rich to have been as unsuccessful as they have been over the past few seasons.
Personally, I believed that Memphis should have fired Pastner after last season, not due to any failure on his part, but to proactively sign former Tennessee Volunteers coach Bruce Pearl before the Auburn Tigers did. Pearl, despite building up the Tennessee-Memphis rivalry before being fired from Rocky Top, would have transitioned smoothly into the program and likely had success in his first year.
However, the Tigers did not do that and stuck with Pastner for another year. Memphis lost four of their last five games and failed to make a postseason tournament, something that is unacceptable for the Tigers’ basketball program. Whether or not Pastner remains with Memphis is yet to be decided, but Alabama would benefit by waiting to hire a coach until Memphis makes a decision.
Pastner is a good coach. Anyone who watches any type of basketball consistently can see that he has what it takes to have success in college basketball; he just cannot seem to have success with Memphis. Expectations for him in Alabama would be fairly low, so the pressure would be off to have immediate success, giving him time to build his type of program in Tuscaloosa.
With rivals Auburn building up their basketball program and hiring a big name like Pearl, Alabama needs to make somewhat of a big splash with their new coach, but they have to hire someone who can transform their program into something that fans want to watch. If you’ve seen pictures of some of the Crimson Tide’s home games, it’s pathetic and embarrassing for the conference. Alabama has to do something quickly to put a spark back into their basketball program, and Pastner could be just the spark they need.
Now, if only Memphis would make up their mind.