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Monday, February 8, 2010
Updated: February 9, 11:52 AM ET
Senior, short-handed Tigers part ways

By Dana O'Neil

As Memphis scrapes to keep its NCAA tournament hopes alive, this would seem a peculiar time for the Tigers to part ways with a player who has started in 16 of 23 games.

Yet coach Josh Pastner announced on Monday that, with just eight regular-season games left to play, senior forward Pierre Henderson-Niles has left the team.

Pastner insisted that Henderson-Niles had done nothing wrong and that the decision was nothing more than a mutual parting of ways.

"This is nothing negative. He didn't do anything against the law or anything like that," Pastner told on Monday night. "I like the young man. I have a soft spot for him. It was just at this point, we both agree it's time to go forward."

Henderson-Niles averaged 5.2 points and 5.2 rebounds for the Tigers but his minutes had dipped slightly in the last few weeks. After hovering closer to the 20-minutes-per-game range, Henderson-Niles hadn't played more than 15 in his last four games.

After Memphis' stunning loss to SMU -- a game in which he did not score and had two rebounds in 13 minutes -- a frustrated Henderson-Niles posted on his Facebook, "Wanna give dis [stuff] up after yesterday."

Pastner insisted that Henderson-Niles leaves with no ill will and is on schedule to graduate in May.

But the coach did say that losing Henderson-Niles hurts the team. Memphis already has been playing the season shorthanded, with players transferring and decommitting after John Calipari left for Kentucky in April. Henderson-Niles' decision leaves the Tigers with only seven scholarship players for the stretch run.

"There's no question it puts us in a bind," Pastner said. "I don't like losing anybody, but it's what we've got to deal with. We've got to do what we've got to do."

Dana O'Neil covers college basketball for