He was a creature of the '90s, college basketball's own sitcom character, a cross between
Growing up outside Houston, Pastner began breaking down game tapes at age 12. A year later he had started a high school scouting service. By 14 he was running the Houston Hoops, the travel team he founded with his dad,
Three top 25 programs offered Pastner assistant coaching positions out of high school. He opted for Tucson instead, logging 25 hours a week in the film room while completing his degree in two and a half years and winning an NCAA title. After eight formal seasons on the Wildcats staff he made the move to Memphis in 2008.
Then last night, at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, he demonstrated yet again that precociousness, thy name is Pastner. During the nightcap of the Hall of Fame Showcase, taking the big stage on his own for the first time, he guided unranked and decimated Memphis to within a clanging three-pointer of taking out the nation's No. 1 team.
"You guys were great," Kansas video coordinator
In early April, Pastner, then 31, watched his professional life get rocked. After two seasons in which the Tigers won 71 of 77 games, coach
Then Memphis athletic director
If he was to be an assistant, Pastner said, he wanted to serve Calipari in Lexington.
No, Johnson clarified. The
"I stepped outside and called coach Cal to get his blessing," Pastner says. "And I've been in survival mode ever since."
Four Tiger starters left for the pros in the aftermath of Calipari's departure. Then three recruits ticketed for Memphis re-routed themselves to the Bluegrass. That left Pastner with eight scholarship players.
But Pastner was smart. He turned to his hometown of Houston, hiring Rice coach
Like the teenage Pastner, the Tigers had hung around and made themselves a nuisance, and now prepared to reap their reward. They were out of timeouts when guard
Williams' three kicked off the back of the rim. "All you want is a chance to win," Pastner said. "He missed long, so I'm O.K. with it."
Of course. Pastner himself has never left any try short. And with a powerful major-college program finally his, he's not about to start. He already has commitments from
"I told the guys afterward that this game is like life, a long journey," Pastner said. But, he added, "I can tell you this for sure. If games are like this, I'm getting out at 35."