August 17, 2011
In an era in which college basketball coaches exploit every loophole in the NCAA rulebook to give their program an extra edge, Memphis' Josh Pastner is considering voluntarily putting his program at a disadvantage.
Pastner told the Memphis Commercial Appeal on Tuesday night that he may not hire a third full-time assistant for next season if he can't find a candidate that meets his standards by the start of player workouts on Aug. 27. The top target for the job had been veteran NBA assistant Tim Grgurich, but he turned Pastner down in hopes the lockout will end in time for next season.
"I'll be head coach and assistant. I've got no problems with that. I have total confidence in our staff," Pastner told the Commercial-Appeal. "I'm not going to hire someone just to hire someone. If we've got to go with a smaller staff, we'll deal with it. Everyone's got to pick up more responsibility and get the job done."
Pastner has a reputation for working long hours recruiting and watching film, but not hiring a third full-time assistant would be a mistake even if the relentlessly energetic young coach truly can do the work of two men.
It already was a disadvantage for Memphis not having a third assistant scouting prospects and making himself visible to recruits during the July evaluation period. The absence will even be more significant during the season if Memphis splits advance scouting duties among two assistants instead of three and has only two assistants to help Pastner run practices, recruit and help install game plans.
CBSSports.com's Gary Parrish offered a pithy yet intelligent solution on Wednesday when he suggested that Pastner should use the vacant assistant position to hire the father or AAU coach of a recruit he's targeting. A potential package deal like that would be more valuable than leaving the third assistant position unfilled and it doesn't violate any NCAA rules.
Regardless of how Pastner chooses to fill that third assistant's position, another set of eyes on the bench would be valuable to Memphis. Most of the top candidates for such a job may already have positions for next season at this late a date, yet there's no sense in putting the program at an unnecessary disadvantage.