The word “change” seems to be the word of the year so far.
President Barack Obama used it during his run for the White House and it was even heard for the election for mayor in Memphis.
However, politics are not the only thing seeing change in Memphis.
The Memphis Tigers will launch a new year with a new coaches and new players across the board, but that has not stopped the Memphis faithful from continuing to support their team.
In Memphis Midnight Madness, 18,000 loyal fans packed into the FedEx Forum to see the introduction of the new look Tigers. At one point, the gates had to be closed due to a full house.
Not bad for a fan base that was supposed to disappear once the tough times came.
New Memphis coach, Josh Pastner, was hired based on potential and possibly because he was the last option out there for a head coach.
He certainly has not disappointed from a recruiting standpoint.
From the day he was hired to today, Pastner locked up Will Coleman, Latavious Williams (who later decided to play in China due to academics), and brought in Will Barton, Antonio Barton, Joe Jackson, and Chris Crawford for the 2010-2011 season, giving Memphis the No. 2 recruiting class in the country behind Ohio State according to Rivals.com.
The players have also noticed changes in coaching philosophies and coaching tactics.
Calipari was known for his antics during the games and having no problem with "cursing" to get his point across.
Pastner is seen as a calmer and quieter guy who likes to pull players out and correct them instead of giving them that tough love that Calipari liked.
Although Pastner is not seen as a "tough" coach on the court, senior guard, Doneal Mack, has already pointed out that Pastner deals with off court issues more strictly.
Personalities are not the only thing seeing change in the Memphis program.
For the first time many Memphis fans can remember, this year’s team will actually focus on shooting the three ball.
The Dribble-Drive system under Calipari focused on penetration to the lane and points in the paint by the guards.
Memphis was ranked 217th last season shooting the three ball.
This year’s team has a lot of firepower along the wings and most of those players are not shy to take the outside jumper.
Robert Sallie was near the end of the bench for much of last season for his subpar defense, but when he was given time, he shot lights out and proved to be the Tigers most consistent shooter.
Doneal Mack is hard to read. He can look like one of the best shooters in the country when he gets hot, but when he is cold, it is best for opposing defenses to just leave him wide open.
Willie Kemp took the role of a shooter during his sophomore season when Derrick Rose stole his starting job. Kemp has always been a good shooter, but has not been given any confidence since his freshmen year.
He will now be relied on heavily as he is the favorite to be the starter at point guard as the start of the season nears.
The team’s dark horse this year could be freshman walk-on, Drew Barham. The original Southern Illinois signee was one of the best shooters in the city last season and has really been impressing coaches thus far with this hard work and shooting stroke.
It is rumored he can be part of the eight man rotation, which is rare for a freshman walk-on.
With this said, this may be the most difficult season since the first three years of Calipari. The team lacks depth, lacks rebounders, and is very young. As of now, fans should not expect another 30 win season or even another C-USA crown.
Josh Pastner has brought excitment to a fan base that was supposed to be dead after John Calipari left for the bluer grass of Kentucky.
Pastner is yet to show if he can coach, but his impressive recruiting class and the enthusiasm he has brought to the city have really made Tiger fans see a “change to believe in.”
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!