So a trip to the Bahamas was miserable and a Thursday in Memphis playing lowly UT Martin was paradise.
Hard to believe but true after the Tigers won, 93-65, improved to 4-2, and finally got to breathe a sigh of relief. Not that anyone has yet forgotten the disappointing losses to VCU and Minnesota — or even the difficult win over Northern Iowa — but Thursday’s victory did provide a respite.
Freshman Shaq Goodwin was fantastic, scoring 17 points with 12 boards, 2 assists, 2 blocks and a steal. Combo guard Joe Jackson — this has to be the new way to refer to him — handed out 8 assists while scoring 13 with two steals and a block and just 1 turnover.
“In college basketball, the two (guard position) is basically the one,” Jackson said, explaining that he’s not worrying about position anymore. “I’m a basketball player.”
A simple and effective solution, that. At least for a night. Coach Josh Pastner clearly still felt stung by the week’s criticism from fans and media and in the post-game presser spent much time talking about the ills of negativity. He even invited media members to call his voice mail where they could hear a positive message and lift their cynical spirits.
What any of this means going forward is anyone’s guess, of course. The Tigers seem to see the college basketball season and an amusement park as one in the same — there’s always time for another ride on the roller coaster. Ohio, a Sweet 16 team last season, comes calling next Wednesday. It is a good team, much closer to VCU than UT Martin.
Beat Ohio and hope returns with the Dec. 15 game against Louisville just around the corner. Lose to Ohio and … wait, wait, I’m not going there. Because believe or not, I’d like to enjoy this respite, too.