Posted on: February 16, 2011 11:32 am
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- I've got a column about the competitiveness of Conference USA filed that should be posted shortly. Then tonight I'm headed to FedExForum to watch UAB and Memphis play a game that will launch the winner to the top of the league standings (provided Southern Miss handles UTEP tonight in Hattiesburg).
Also: This game represents the (expected) return of Wesley Witherspoon.
Witherspoon, a 6-foot-9 wing, hasn't played since being suspended Jan. 13 for mocking an assistant coach on a team bus after the Tigers lost at SMU. The suspension was lifted after two games. But Witherspoon was then sidelined with what was described as a "soar" knee, and, needless to say, it might be the most curious sore knee in the history of Memphis basketball considering there were no indications that it was sore before the suspension. Either way, Witherspoon has practiced the past two days and should be in uniform tonight. Whether he'll play is another matter altogether, though, because the Tigers have been better without him. They are 10-4 with him, 9-2 without him this season. So minutes of any kind aren't guaranteed.
Posted on: January 20, 2011 4:39 pm
Edited on: January 20, 2011 4:46 pm
Memphis coach Josh Pastner told CBSSports.com on Thursday that Wesley Witherspoon has been reinstated to the team but added that the junior forward will not play Saturday at UAB because of an ailing knee that figures to hold him out of pregame practices.
"Wesley will not practice today or tomorrow," Pastner said. "His knee has been bothering him so I am going to hold him out of practice and, obviously, if he doesn't practice he won't play Saturday."
Witherspoon, who had knee surgery in December, was suspended for two games following last week's loss at SMU. Pastner has declined to discuss the reason for the suspension, but multiple sources told CBSSports.com last week that it was the result of Witherspoon mocking an assistant on a bus after the SMU loss.
"[Wesley not practicing now] has nothing to do with any discipline," Pastner said. "It's strictly based on cautious and preventive measures with his knee. The discipline thing is done with. This is fresh and clean starting today. The reason he won't practice and play this weekend is strictly due to health concerns."
Witherspoon is averaging 11.5 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.
The Tigers are 14-4 overall and tied for first in C-USA with a 3-1 league record.
Posted on: January 14, 2011 8:25 pm
Edited on: January 14, 2011 8:40 pm
There's been some confusion about what exactly triggered Wesley Witherspoon's suspension from Memphis.
Here's the deal (according to a source): The Tigers lost 64-58 at SMU on Wednesday, showered, dressed and filed into a bus that took them to the airport in Dallas. Nobody said a word. They then got on their chartered plane, flew home and landed in Memphis without incident, at which point the coaches got into their personal vehicles and drove home while the players got on a bus there to transport them to campus. And it was at some point during that drive -- the drive from the airport in Memphis to the Memphis campus -- when Witherspoon used the bus' loud speaker to do an impersonation of one of Josh Pastner's assistants.
"It happened, but it didn't happen in front of the coaches," a source said. "The coaches weren't on that bus. Wesley would've never done that in front of the coaches."
Pastner was informed of Witherspoon's antics after the fact because somebody on the bus told somebody close to Pastner. Upon hearing what Witherspoon did, Pastner immediately suspended the 6-foot-9 forward because, a source said, the second-year coach thought mocking an assistant after a disappointing loss was simply "unacceptable," particularly for a supposed leader on a roster comprised mostly of first-year players. It's the latest move Pastner has made to try to change Witherspoon's attitude. Whether it'll work remains unclear.
There is no timetable for a possible Witherspoon return.
He will not be in uniform Saturday when the Tigers host Marshall at FedExForum.
Posted on: January 13, 2011 6:41 pm
Edited on: January 13, 2011 7:30 pm
Memphis coach Josh Pastner announced Thursday that he has suspended Wesley Witherspoon.
There is no timetable for a return.
Witherspoon was averaging 11.5 points and 4.9 rebounds per game for the Tigers, who are 12-4 and among the nation's most disappointing teams. They lost at SMU on Wednesday and are 1-1 in Conference USA heading into Saturday's game against Marshall. Memphis was ranked as high as 13th in the AP poll earlier this season.
Posted on: December 10, 2010 11:24 am
Edited on: December 10, 2010 11:26 am
Wesley Witherspoon is scheduled to undergo surgery Friday for a meniscal tear in his right knee.
The Memphis forward is expected to miss five weeks while rehabbing.
He should return in mid-January.
"This is a tough break for Wesley, because at the time of the injury, he was carrying us in those first five games," said Memphis coach Josh Pastner "Since that injury, we've been holding him out of practices, and we've limited his time in gameday shoot-arounds. I'm confident, though, that he'll bounce back quickly and be ready to go when he returns. As for the team, we will continue to prepare and move forward with our schedule. None of our opponents are going to feel sorry for us because of this."
Pastner said Witherspoon suffered the injury Nov. 17 against Northwestern State but continued to play through it. The 6-foot-8 forward was averaging 13.0 points and 4.6 rebounds through eight games for the 13th-ranked Tigers, who are 7-1 and coming off a loss to No. 4 Kansas. Witherspoon had eight points and two rebounds in that game.
Memphis next plays Austin Peay on Thursday.
Posted on: December 14, 2008 2:29 am
I'm not sure what's more amazing -- that John Calipari has taken two different and otherwise pedestrian basketball programs (UMass and Memphis) to the Final Four, or that one of the sport's best recruiters has somehow ended up with a roster featuring exactly zero good point guards and zero good shooters.
I mean, how does that happen?
The man secures one Top 10 recruiting class after another, and yet here he is, in the year after coming this close to a national title, trying to run his celebrated dribble-drive motion offense with no point guard, no shooter and no help in sight. That's the lesson from Saturday's loss to Georgetown, that even though Memphis did well to take the Hoyas to overtime, Calipari's team is fatally flawed because the roster has huge holes.
There are no team-runners.
There are no shot-makers.
Consequently, Memphis is shooting 29.1 percent from 3-point range and trying to get by with Wesley Witherspoon at the point, which is bad for a number of reasons, among them the fact that Witherspoon is not a point guard. In fact, the freshman has never really played point guard, and to anybody who thinks this is going to work, let me ask one question: How often do high school wings become good college point guards?
Answer: Almost never.
So that's why this problem will likely linger, and the worst part for Memphis is that it could linger into next season unless Calipari secures a commitment from John Wall. You see, the Tigers didn't sign any point guards in the early period, which means they will either get Wall late and next season have arguably the nation's best point guard, or not get Wall late and next season again have zero good point guards. There is almost no in-between; Memphis will either be great or terrible at the position, and it pretty much comes down to Wall.
But that's another post for another day.
For now, let's stick to the present, which is that Memphis should still win Conference USA, still win 25-plus games and still comfortably make the NCAA tournament. Don't get it twisted; the team is talented enough to do all that. But a fourth consecutive Elite Eight seems unlikely, another Final Four improbable, because though John Calipari has recruited one elite athlete after another, he's now stuck with a fatally flawed roster featuring zero good point guards and zero good shooters, which is like having a shiny car with no good tires and no good steering wheel.
It looks nice and all.
But sooner or later, it's bound to crash.