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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Hire Josh Pastner

    All Madden

    Dear Mr. Jim Livengood,

    Sorry to break it to you, but you’ve just been Punk’d.

    As Arizona’s athletic director, you experienced what I would guess was the biggest April Fools joke of your life on Wednesday: Meeting with USC head coach Tim Floyd for a few meaningless hours before Floyd went back to Los Angeles to remain a coach in the Pacific 10 Conference – but not for Arizona.

    I’m guessing it was more excruciating than the previous April Fools, when Lute Olson announced that Kevin O’Neill wouldn’t be returning to his coaching staff.

    Now, as you run out of sand in the coaching hourglass you are currently drowning in, the solution becomes clearer and clearer: Hire Josh Pastner.

    If not the solution, it’s a solution. After all, once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat, right?

    Pastner left Arizona after 12 years as either a player or coach, and perhaps the Wildcats’ best spokesman since John “”Button”” Salmon.

    The latter told the team to “”Bear Down.”” The former told the team during the 1996-97 season, “”Stick with me and we’ll win a national championship.””

    And they did.

    Pastner practically came out of the womb as a coach. He is the son of Hal Pastner, who started what is now the nationally-famous Houston Hoops AAU program. When he was 13, he was making scouting reports. By the time he was 16, papa Pastner made Josh the head coach of the program, coaching future NBA players like Charlotte Bobcats forward Emeka Okafor.

    In 1999, he led Houston Hoops to a Nike National Summer Championship in San Diego. The next year his team won the Global World Championship.

    Before he became a walk-on with Arizona, Josh met Olson at a tournament in Las Vegas. The two exchanged a handshake and coaching philosophies. From there, he became the team’s David Bagga, but with more of a personal emphasis on coaching.

    Not to mention an undefeated record as a player when he played for the Wildcats – 43-0 to be precise.

    Now, after spending a year on John Calipari’s staff at Memphis, Pastner has experience coaching under a Hall-of-Famer (Olson) and a potential Hall-of-Famer (Calipari).

    But at the tender age of 31, isn’t he too young to become Arizona’s head coach?

    This isn’t the case at all. Pastner has more quality experience than some coaches who are two or three decades older.

    He has a national championship ring, and has gotten to the Sweet 16 or further six times as a player and a coach.

    And maybe even more than his résumé, you should want someone who actually wants to be the Wildcats’ head coach.

    “”I would love to come back here one day,”” Pastner told me last May. “”But even if it’s not coming back here in basketball terms, coming back here in the community. Tucson is my home.””

    It’s no question that Arizona needs a great recruiting coach.

    Check. In 2005, Rivals.com’s Chris Wallace named Pastner one of college basketball’s top 25 recruiters. In 2008, FoxSports.com rated him as the No. 7 high-major recruiter in America.

    Arizona also needs someone who knows the Tucson community well.

    Check. He was a member of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Tucson, among other groups.

    And is great with the media and PR.

    Check. He has returned phone calls to the media as early as 4:35 a.m. before.

    And can handle a large amount of pressure.

    Check. Being the lead recruiter for Arizona speaks for itself.

    Mr. Livengood, Josh Pastner may very well be the best available and most passionate candidate for the job, despite being underrated.

    Extend your hand out to Pastner, and he’ll lift you out of the quicksand in your coaching-search hourglass.

    Lance Madden is a journalism junior. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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