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Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Josh Pastner still looking for assistant

By Eamonn Brennan

College basketball assistant coaches of the world, prepare thy résumés. Believe it or not, there's a job on the market.

Memphis coach Josh Pastner wanted to lure veteran NBA assistant coach Tim Grgurich, who worked as a special consultant to the Dallas Mavericks last season, to fill the third spot on the Tigers' bench. But Grgurich wanted to keep his options open in case by some miracle the NBA and its players can come to an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement in time to save the 2011-12 NBA season. With just a few months until the official start of practice, Pastner still has an open seat on his bench. What does he plan to do?

According to Pastner, who spoke with the Memphis Commercial-Appeal's Jason Smith, he plans on filling the job himself:
"I'll be head coach and assistant. I've got no problems with that. I have total confidence in our staff," said Pastner, who had hoped to have the position filled by the time the Tigers begin individual player workouts Aug. 27. "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."

If you can use the word "vintage" to describe one of the youngest head coaches in college basketball, then this is vintage Pastner. The Memphis coach is relentlessly positive and energetic. He's been at this since he was self-coaching his own AAU team at the age of 15. Of course he's willing to take on the extra load.

But there's no question the lack of a third assistant would increase the staff's workload. Assistant coaches aren't just there for instruction. They're also assets in advance scouting, film study, recruiting and a host of other important basketball tasks. According to the Commercial-Appeal, Pastner has his assistants prepare game plans on a rotating basis; this would obviously shorten that rotation and create more work for assistants Jack Murphy and and first-year hire Damon Stoudamire. In other words, Pastner's attitude is impressive as always, but in this instance, from a mental health standpoint, it might be less than ideal.

What's the solution? CBS's Gary Parrish has a proposal: Offering the third assistant's job as a one-year, $200,000 contract to the father of any high-profile recruit in the country. Doable? Yes. Sketchy? Oh yeah.

I'm going to go ahead and bet that Pastner will opt for the first choice: Working even harder, sleeping even less, and energetically grinding it out with a smile on his face. Seriously, we need to isolate, develop and market whatever it is that dude has running through his veins. Our nation's productivity would skyrocket. Economic crisis solved! You're welcome, America.