Originally posted on Fox Sports Tennessee  |  Last updated 11/28/11
By John D. MartinTigerAuthority.comMEMPHIS, Tenn. -- University of Memphis coach Josh Pastner is upfront about it his teams trip to Maui last week was a lot more turbulent than he had hoped. Despite going 1-2 and finishing in sixth place, however, Pastner said he believes the Tigers are on the cusp of being a very difficult team to beat. We have a long way to go to get better on things. But on the other hand, we are really close on those things, Pastner said. If we can clean a couple of those things up, we can be really, really, really good. Very hard to beat. Weve got to decide if were committed to cleaning it up. Just the little things. We do those, we can be as good as we want to be. The Tigers dropped their first-round game against then-No. 15 Michigan, 73-61. Memphis looked disjointed against the different defensive schemes Wolverines coach John Beilein utilized and forced matters offensively, which led to an excessive amount of three-point shots. The Tigers bounced back against Tennessee, 99-97, in double overtime, but dropped a close one to Georgetown in the fifth-place game, 91-88, in overtime. A common theme from each of Memphis showings in the Maui is the lack of rebounding. The Tigers were outrebounded by a margin of 116-86 in their three games, much of which is due to sophomore forward Tarik Black being unable to stay in the game due to foul trouble. The Tigers also seem to have an issue with execution down the stretch. They either force their offense or stall too long out of timeouts in crunch-time situations, which Pastner acknowledges. I felt, defensively, we were good in a lot of areas on executing the things we need to execute, Pastner said. Offensively, theres things that again, every time were in a timeout, its got to be following the gameplan exactly. These are lessons for guys to understand. If we tell you to do this, you cant veer off. We as a unit have to learn from those mistakes that weve all made, from the top on down. Weve got to get better from those. Although the final results clearly werent desired, neither Pastner or his players are looking at the trip as detrimental. The truth is that while the Tigers came away with more losses than wins, playing a tough November schedule could make a huge difference for a young team later in the season. These were three good teams, Pastner said. Does it guarantee you anything? No, because every game youre going to have to bring it, starting (tonight) against Jackson State. But weve been through it at a high level, to where we can say This is our area of weakness, and this is our area of strength. Lets build on both. Going 1-2 in the Maui also changes little for the Tigers. Memphis has proven in recent years that it can dominate Conference USA and still make deep runs in the NCAA tournament. Its goal for this season is no different, sophomore forward Tarik Black said. It doesnt change anything. Everybody takes a loss, Black said. There hasnt been an undefeated team since Bobby Knights 1976 Indiana team. Its the same goal. Still trying to be persistent and be poised. Were going to take losses. Every team takes a loss. Now that the Thanksgiving holiday is over, the Tigers get back to work against Jackson State on Monday at FedExForum. It will be a good opportunity for Memphis to reset and focus on its glaring weaknesses that the Maui exposed as the Tigers prepare to enter the heart of non-conference pay. Were so close, to tell you the truth, sophomore point guard Joe Jackson said. Were right where we want to be. Its just, we havent played that many games. Its going to come like it came last season at some point. We just have to keep playing games and keep getting better.
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