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Pastner the anti-Calipari
I’ve deemed him the anti-Calipari.
Memphis coach Josh Pastner booted McDonald’s All-American Jelan Kendrick out of the program before he played a single minute.
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- Preseason Top 25: Who's No. 1?
- 68 things to watch this season
- Best backcourts: Super 'Nova
- Best frontcourts: Big, bad Heels
- Top transfers: Curry's 'lil brother
- Top freshmen: ACC scores talent
- Coaches on hot seat: Careful, Pearl
- ACC preview: Return of UNC?
- Big East preview: New favorites
- Big 12 preview: K-State or KU?
- Pac-10 preview: Huskies and mutts
- Big Ten preview: Power conference
- SEC preview: It's wide open
Kendrick was part of Pastner’s heralded recruiting class that is supposed to put the Tigers back on the national map. He was one of three McDonald’s All-Americans, along with Will Barton and Joe Jackson, whom Pastner brought in this season.
But Kendrick is gone with zeros next to his name. He never logged one official minute in a Memphis uniform.
Pastner did what the previous coach, Calipari, never did: cut ties with a knucklehead early in the process. Sure, there were several second chances for Kendrick, but Calipari never would have sent Kendrick packing this early — or probably ever.
Then again, Calipari was a virtual master at handling kids like Kendrick, while Pastner understood he couldn’t deal with the Atlanta native’s numerous issues that continued to pop up, like clashing with his teammates.
Give Pastner credit. He realized Kendrick wasn’t worth the risk. At least for him.
TEAM OF THE WEEK: Georgetown. While most teams opened with a cupcake, the Hoyas went on the road and played a team that may well crack the Top 25 at some point this season. I know most people expected the Hoyas to knock off Old Dominion, but the Hoyas were on the road and also in their first game in the post-Greg Monroe era. John Thompson III’s team came from behind and pulled out the win against the CAA favorites largely because of its perimeter trio, Austin Freeman, Chris Wright and Jason Clark.
STUD (PLAYER OF THE WEEK): Northwestern junior forward John Shurna began the season opener by missing four of his first five shots but finished by tying his career high with 31 points in a victory at Northern Illinois. Shurna was 7 of 10 from beyond the arc and grabbed nine boards.
BEST PERFORMANCE: Point guard Brad Tinsley had the first triple-double in Vanderbilt history with 11 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in a rout of Presbyterian.
DUD: Tim Floyd’s return to UTEP, in front of a sellout crowd of more than 12,000, began with a thud. The Miners, picked by most to contend with Memphis for the top spot in C-USA, lost at home to Pacific in their season opener. Star Randy Culpepper was held scoreless after the break as UTEP blew a double-digit halftime lead.
WEEK TO FORGET: Jeff Bzdelik. It might be a season to forget for the new Wake Forest coach. Bzdelik left a decent team at Colorado and took over a young Wake group that could finish in the ACC’s cellar. The Demon Deacons began the Bzdelik Era with a home loss to Stetson, and to make matters worse, freshman point guard Tony Chennault broke his left foot in the second half and will miss a couple of months.
MID-MAJOR TEAM OF THE WEEK: Austin Peay. I realize Saint Louis isn’t the team it was supposed to be before a couple of starters were booted, but the Governors pulled the upset against Rick Majerus’ team after former Saint John’s guard Tyshawn Edmondson made a pair of free throws with 4.2 seconds left.
WORST LOSS: Kentucky losing freshman Enes Kanter. There is still a last-ditch appeal, but the NCAA deemed Kanter “permanently ineligible” after he was found to have accepted benefits above his actual and necessary expenses from his club team back home in Turkey.
1) Michigan State senior point guard Kalin Lucas, who ruptured his Achilles' tendon in the NCAA Tournament last March, returned and had 18 points, six assists and two turnovers in a win over Eastern Michigan.
3) New Mexico forward Emmanuel Negedu, who sat out all of last season at Tennessee after collapsing and nearly dying from cardiac arrest, scored eight points and grabbed six boards in a win over Detroit.
1) Ohio State’s freshman class was impressive in a rout of North Carolina A&T. Big man Jared Sullinger had 19 points and 14 boards, point guard Aaron Craft finished with eight points, nine assists and no turnovers, and DeShawn Thomas scored 24 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
2) Tobacco Road. North Carolina’s supposed savior, Harrison Barnes, was mediocre in his debut with 14 points and four rebounds in 27 minutes against Lipscomb. Duke’s frosh, Kyrie Irving, was more impressive with 17 points, nine assists and one turnover in Sunday night’s rout of Princeton.
3) Fab Melo. I said it before the season and I’ll say it again: Syracuse's 7-footer from Brazil is going to take some time. He is averaging 3 points and 3.5 rebounds through the first two games.
1) All-America candidate LaceDarius Dunn was suspended for three games by Baylor after being charged with aggravated assault in an incident with his girlfriend. He’ll be back Nov. 22 against Lipscomb.
2) Kansas freshman Josh Selby continues to await the NCAA’s decision on whether, and when, he’ll be allowed to play this season.
3) Minnesota wing Devoe Joseph was suspended indefinitely by coach Tubby Smith for violating team rules.
WEEK’S TOP MATCHUPS:
1) Ohio State at Florida, Tuesday at 6 p.m. ET. One of the top nonconference contests of the season. The Buckeyes’ young big man, Jared Sullinger, gets a test against Gators big man Vernon Macklin.
2) San Diego State at Gonzaga, Tuesday at 11 p.m. ET. This could be a battle of the top teams on the West Coast. The Aztecs are led by sophomore forward Kawhi Leonard while the ‘Zags have a star sophomore of their own in Elias Harris.
3) Virginia Tech at Kansas State, Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET. The Hokies are led by Malcolm Delaney, but depth could be an issue, while K-State is the favorite to win the Big 12 and has an All-America guard of its own, Jake Pullen.
4) Western Kentucky vs. Minnesota, Thursday at 7:30 p.m. ET, Puerto Rico Tip-Off. The Hilltoppers crushed Saint Joe’s in Philly, and the Gophers are one of the most underrated teams in the nation. This is a terrific first-round matchup.
5) Illinois vs. Texas, Thursday at 9 p.m. ET, Coaches vs. Cancer semifinals. The Illini are extremely talented and led by Demetri McCamey; the Longhorns also are loaded with young talent.
6) Butler at Louisville, Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET. The Bulldogs will try to open Louisville’s brand-new arena by handing Rick Pitino & Co. a loss.
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