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Tourney Talk: CHD sits down with Memphis coach Josh Pastner

On Saturday Memphis beat Southern Miss in double-OT in the CUSA tourney title game to earn an automatic bid to this week’s NCAA tournament. The Tigers had a 7-PT loss to St. Louis in the 2012 NCAA tourney, but bounced back in 2013 to win 30 games and claim the school’s 3rd straight NCAA tourney bid.  Earlier today Jon Teitel got to speak with Coach Josh Pastner about what it feels like to win a title.

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Coach Josh Pastner

In 1997 you won the NCAA title as a walk-on at Arizona: what did it mean to you to win a title, and what was the reaction like when you got back to campus? Winning the title was phenomenal: it was my 1st year with the team so I just thought we would win it every year! The football stadium seated about 60,000, and it was almost full by the time we got there after our parade.

The 2 head coaches you have served as an assistant under are Lute Olson and John Calipari: what was the most important thing that you learned from each of them? Get great players and keep it simple.

You had a 7-PT loss to St. Louis in last year’s NCAA tourney: what did you learn from that loss that you think can help you this time around? Do not over-analyze everything: just go out and do what you do well.

3 of your 4 losses this season were to tourney teams (VCU/Minnesota/Louisville): did any 1 of them impress you the most? They were all pretty good, but I said back in the Bahamas that VCU was good enough to win it all this year.

Your only other loss in the past 3 months was a 2-PT road loss to Xavier: do you feel like you are playing your best basketball of the season right now? I do: we have won a lot of games and are on a roll.

Joe Jackson was named 2013 conference POY: what makes him such a great player? He is a quick guard north-to-south and is extremely consistent, especially when he is shooting well.

Chris Crawford was named 2013 conference 6th Man of the Year as well as conference tourney MVP: how crucial is he to your team’s success this month? Very crucial: when he plays with great positive energy it makes us that much better.

You beat Southern Miss in double-OT to win the CUSA tourney title game: where does that rank among the most exciting wins of your career? Every win I have had here is tremendously exciting, and I love them all.

Earlier this month you were named CUSA COY: what makes you such a good coach? I have great assistants and great players!

You play the Middle Tennessee State-St. Mary’s winner on Thursday in Auburn Hills: how hard is it to only have 48 hours of advance notice of your opponent, and what kind of things will you look at when watching their game tonight? We will just prepare on Wednesday and play on Thursday. We will look at some of their tendencies tonight and then go out and play Memphis basketball.

JonTeitel