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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Pastner’s departure official

    March 15, 2007 Head coach Lute Olson (back) and assistant coach Josh Pastner watch Arizonas at the New Orleans Arena, Thursday, March 15, 2007 in New Orleans.
    Chris Coduto
    March 15, 2007 Head coach Lute Olson (back) and assistant coach Josh Pastner watch Arizona’s at the New Orleans Arena, Thursday, March 15, 2007 in New Orleans.

    It’s been known for a while but it was officially announced Monday that UA assistant coach Josh Pastner is leaving for Memphis to be an assistant coach and a lead recruiter.

    Pastner, who has had ties with the Wildcats as a walk-on player and a coach for 12 years, said Memphis head coach John Calipari called him about the job a few weeks ago and he flew to Memphis last week to put the final touches on the deal.

    But make no mistake, he’s leaving on a positive note.

    “”I love Arizona. I love this place. It’s off the charts,”” Pastner said. “”I love the U of A. I love (UA head coach Lute) Olson. I love (UA athletic director) Mr. (Jim) Livengood. I love the community. I think this is the most charitable community in the world. I just love it here.

    “”But after consulting with coach Olson and Mr. Livengood – and they both wanted me to stay – I got their blessings,”” Pastner added. “”This is an opportunity that I was really intrigued on. I thought this would really help me spread my wings and help my career – because this is a career-path decision – and that’s what I’m going on.””

    Mike Dunlap made it public two weeks ago that he’ll be the associate head coach for the Wildcats next season. Pastner, 30, said Dunlap’s being given the associate head coach position didn’t affect his decision to leave.

    “”It had nothing to do with that,”” Pastner said. “”It had absolutely nothing to do with that what so ever. This was strictly about an opportunity for a career path, to have Lute Olson and John Calipari on my résumé. That is powerful.””

    Despite the weather differences, Pastner said there are many similarities between the Arizona and Memphis men’s basketball programs.

    “”It’s a big-time challenge (to leave),”” Pastner said. “”I’ve been here for 12 years of my life. This place is home. But there’s a lot of similarities between the Arizona men’s program (and Memphis) in terms of the very elite level and tremendous high-level student-athletes. They want to win a national championship year in and year out. It’s a tremendous university and a tremendous community in both Tucson and in Memphis.””

    Pastner was in McKale Center this past weekend during the Arizona Cactus Classic – though he couldn’t watch the games because he’s still officially a UA coach – and wore Arizona basketball clothing. His father, Hal Pastner, was also in McKale Center with the Houston Hoops AAU team, which Hal created in 1986.

    Josh will fill the void in Memphis’ staff that was made by the departure of Derek Kellogg, who left last month to become the head coach at the University of Massachusetts. Chuck Martin also left last month to become the head coach at Marist last month.

    “”We are excited that Josh is joining our staff,”” Calipari said in a press release. “”To add a coach with the experience and success Josh has is a plus for our program and the university. We are always looking to move forward and improve our basketball program in every way and I believe Josh can help us to do that.””

    Calipari did not return a phone call for further comment.

    Pastner has played a significant role in recruiting many of Arizona’s key players in the past. He said his departure wouldn’t affect the program because of the Wildcats’ elite status.

    Pastner said his eventual goal of becoming a head coach one day will have a better chance at becoming a reality by coaching under Olson, a Hall-of-Famer, and Calipari, the 2007-08 Naismith national coach of the year.

    “”I think it’s going to be great,”” Pastner said. “”You have two sides of everything. Coach Olson is one of the greats of all time. The guy’s a legend. Then you have a chance with coach Calipari, one of the elites in the game. You have two good views of the game and two high-powered coaches who have tremendous respect for people in the profession.””

    Pastner, a Houston native, said he’ll live in Memphis by himself “”for the initial time,”” and that he has a goal of one day returning to Tucson. How long that takes, however, is yet to be determined.

    “”It could be a couple years,”” Pastner said. “”It could be 20, 30, 40 (years), who knows? Maybe 70. I don’ know but I want to (return).””

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