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Tiger basketball needs to undersell and overperform in 2015-16

Undersell and overperform.

Memphis Tigers basketball coach Josh Pastner said he believes his team will do just that in 2016.

Pastner and his squad will need to undersell and over perform if they are to regain the trust of the Tiger faithful after an extremely disappointing 2014-15 season, one that saw the Tigers miss the postseason altogether for the first time since 2000.

The days of Memphis fans relying solely on Tiger basketball for their Memphis athletic joy has passed. Tiger fans now have a top 15-football team, led by one of the best players in the country in Paxton Lynch, to enjoy week-in and week-out.

No, Memphis is not a “football school” after a season-and-a-half of football success, but there is no doubt the best ticket in town right now is Lynch and the Tiger football team.

As a result, Pastner, now entering his seventh season at the helm, and his team, have avoided the usual attention – and excitement – the team has received in each of his previous six seasons.

However, Pastner said he thinks there is as much excitement and eyes locked in on his Tigers’ team than ever before.

“Because maybe there is a lot of unanswered questions and/or a lot of new personnel,” Pastner said. “Maybe there are a few people out there who don’t want us to do well. They are going to be watching hoping, we don’t do well. I think the masses, the masses, want us to do well and they are gonna be excited about their team. The bottom line – people are excited for us to get on the court and play against another team.”

Pastner has a point. The Tiger faithful are interested to see how the team will fare, if not by a game-by-game basis, at least on a weekly basis. The Tiger faithful will hope Shaq Goodwin finally puts it together in his senior year. The Tiger faithful is curious to see how the Lawson brothers’ freshmen years go, and so forth.

However, the level of physical excitement is, quite frankly, questionable at best.

Less than 500 people showed up to Memphis FanFest two weeks ago. Yes, there was no Rick Ross but it was a free event. Surely more people would’ve shown up to a similar event if it was held two seasons ago, for example.

Unsurprisingly, the players – like Pastner – believe a big surprise is in store for the Tiger faithful in 2016.

“A couple of people left,” said Memphis guard Markel Crawford. “Not the biggest team. Not the biggest names. When the people see us play, and how hard we go for that name across our jerseys. It’s gonna be a big year for us.”

The players who left, headlined by former star forward Austin Nichols and Memphis native Nick King, would surely have made the Tigers a safer bet to reach the NCAA Tournament in 2016 and brought much more excitement to a Memphis basketball team that needs – after a disappointing offseason – as much positive attention as possible.

Although the second part of Crawford’s quote will ultimately be the key to any success the Tigers have in 2016, Memphis will have to work hard to represent the name across their jerseys well.

It, ironically, goes back to Pastner’s original point: underselling and overperforming.

Many associated with Tiger basketball will not look at Memphis’ roster and expect good things this season. They were picked to finish fifth in the American Athletic Conference regular seasons standings. That’s not exactly the greatest vote of confidence. The players – and Pastner – will have to undersell and overperform and prove their doubters wrong.

Pastner said he believes his team will win a lot of games and have a successful season as long as they undersell and overperform.

“We do that, then we’ll sit back here seven, eight months from now when we’re at our end of season press conference and they’ll say great year,” Pastner said. “They’ll say they undersold and overperformed.”

If the media and all of those of Tiger faithful are saying “great year” after a job well done, then Pastner and his team – more than ever – will have truly earned it.

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