Pastner Named The Sporting News' Conference USA Coach of the Year
March 10, 2010
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - University of Memphis head coach Josh Pastner picked up the first postseason honor of his career on Wednesday when he was named The Sporting News' Conference USA Coach of the Year. Sophomores Elliot Williams (first team) and Wesley Witherspoon (second team) were selected to the magazine's 2009-10 All-Conference USA squads.
Pastner directed the Tigers to a 23-8 overall record and a 13-3 Conference USA mark in 2009-10. Memphis finished second in the regular season standings and is the No. 2 seed in the C-USA Tournament.
Under Pastner's guidance, Memphis posted a 20-win season for a school-record 10th-consecutive season. Pastner's 23 overall wins are the fourth-most in a single season by a Tiger first-year head coach, and his 13 league victories are the most for a single season by a Memphis first-year head coach in school history.
For Williams and Witherspoon, it is the second All-Conference USA honor of the week. On Mar. 8, Williams earned All-C-USA first team distinction from the league's coaches and media, while Witherspoon was named to the third team.
The league's second-leading scorer at 18.5 ppg, Williams leads the Tigers in scoring, and also averages 4.2 rebounds from his guard spot. He is shooting 47.2 percent from the floor, 37.8 percent from the arc and 76.4 percent from the charity stripe, and is ranked among Conference USA leaders in all three statistical categories. Williams has 117 assists (second on team) and 41 steals.
Williams, who earned four C-USA Rookie of the Week awards and one C-USA Player of the Week honor during the season, has scored in double figures in 29 of the Tigers' 31 games. The Memphis, Tenn., native has 16 games in which is scored 20 or more points, the fourth-most 20-point games in a season since 1991-92. The 6-foot-5 guard's 565 points this year are the fourth-most by a sophomore in Tiger history.
Williams scored a career-high 33 points in his Conference USA debut against Southern Miss on Jan. 9. He hit eight treys in the win over the Golden Eagles. The eight three-pointers made were the second-most in a single game in school history, and also set the single-game record for most treys made versus a conference opponent.
Witherspoon, the 2008-09 C-USA Sixth Man of the Year recipient, is the Tigers' second-leading scorer at 12.7 ppg and second-leading rebounder at 4.6 rpg. He is shooting 46.2 percent from the floor and 76.6 percent from the free throw line. The 6-foot-9 forward is ranked among the Conference USA leaders in scoring and free throw percentage.
The Atlanta, Ga., native scored in double figures in 12 of 16 Conference USA games, including a career-high 29 points in a win over UAB on Feb. 3. Since the middle of December, Witherspoon raised his scoring average 4.1 ppg (8.3 to 12.4) and rebounding average 1.3 rpg (3.3 to 4.6).
Named Conference USA Player of the Week once during the season, Witherspoon pulled down a career-best nine boards and had a career-high five steals in a win at Tulane Feb. 17. He also posted career highs for blocks (4) versus Tennessee and Rice and assists (6) against SMU at home.
The Tigers (23-8, 13-3 C-USA) begin play in the Conference USA Tournament on Thursday, Mar. 11 at 12 p.m. (CT) as the postseason classic's No. 2 seed. Memphis meets Houston, who defeated East Carolina 93-80 in the tournament's first round on Wednesday.
The following are The Sporting News' 2009-10 All-Conference USA squads:
FIRST-TEAM ALL-CONFERENCE USA
SECOND-TEAM ALL-CONFERENCE USA