Mon Jan 03 03:37pm EST
Before he began fielding questions following Sunday's wild 91-86 victory over Tennessee State, Memphis coach Josh Pastner wanted to clarify the circumstances surrounding the first technical foul of his career.
"Regarding my technical foul, I did not curse," Pastner told reporters with a smile. "Let's get that out in the open."
It's important to Pastner that the public be made aware of that lest TV viewers assume he slipped up and let a four-letter word fly. Pastner, of course, has forged a reputation as America's most straight-laced college basketball coach, never cursing, never smoking or drinking alcohol and never even sipping a caffeinated beverage.
What prompted Pastner to get angry enough to pick up his first technical in 47 games as a head coach? A dubious fourth foul on forward Wesley Witherspoon early in the second half of a unexpectedly tight game.
"I actually told Mark Whitehead, who is a good official, 'Why did I get the technical? I thought you get techs for cursing?'" Pastner said. "He said, 'You were outside the coaching box,' which I was. I have to take responsibility for that."
Pastner's technical made for good comedy fodder for both the Memphis media and his players.
Commerical Appeal columnist Geoff Calkins joked that a second-half scuffle and the ensuing ejection of a courtside fan were Pastner's fault, writing "Now we know what happens when Josh Pastner gets a technical: The entire world goes nutso." And guard Tarik Black admitted he too was surprised by his coach's offense.
"Wow, that was a shocker," Black told the Associated Press. "I was like: 'Coach Pastner?' Man, that's the last coach in America I thought would get a 'T.'"