Five hours in the life of Josh Pastner

2010-09-19T00:00:00Z Five hours in the life of Josh PastnerBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
September 19, 2010 12:00 am  • 

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Five hours in the life of Josh Pastner on Aug. 31, 2010.

3:30 p.m. Assistant coach Jack Murphy, a former manager and assistant at Arizona, is soaking through his clothes more than the four perimeter players he is drilling. Pastner stands to the outside of the three-point arc, occasionally offering instructions or pulling guys aside for more detailed coaching.

"This year he's letting assistants do more than a year ago," Murphy said. "A year ago, he was the only one doing the talking. He wanted to make his own mark."

Adds Willis Wilson, the former Rice head coach, "He's a very secure guy. He lets us work."

4:15 p.m. As Wilson takes charge of the second workout of the day, with four big men, Pastner is asked if he can make a last-minute appearance before a standing-room-only crowd of about 250 well-dressed Merrill Lynch clients. Apparently, the organizers billed Pastner as the speaker but asked Memphis football coach Larry Porter to show up; now they're panicking that folks will be disappointed if Pastner won't show.

Lamar Chance, Memphis basketball publicist, says Pastner rarely says no to any speaking engagement or other appearance, and this is no exception. "It's hard for me because I don't like to say no a lot and he's got such a good heart," Chance said. "He wants to help out any way he can."

Pastner tells Chance he'll do it but he won't have time to change.

5:10 p.m. Chance walks two blocks back to Pastner's office to grab his bag, so the coach can go directly to the speaking engagement.

5:45 p.m. After huddling with his players, Pastner takes off immediately afterward, and heads to a relatively modest Hyundai Genesis sedan. While the Genesis does have leather seats and a GPS system, it is hardly the sort of fancy ride many head coaches enjoy. Nor is there any leg room in the back seats, thanks to briefcases and gym bags full of gear. No matter. Pastner isn't trying to impress anyone. "If a recruit makes his decision based on my car," Pastner said, "we're not getting him."

6:10 p.m. It's a simple drive down Poplar Avenue from the university to the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, where Pastner will be speaking. But he plugs the museum's name into his GPS because he can't imagine driving anywhere without it. "GPS is the only thing I insisted upon" for a company car, Pastner says.

6:20 p.m. Pastner pulls up at the Brooks Museum, and is immediately greeted by an adoring older couple. "We're excited about you," a lady says. Pastner's reply is instant. "I'm excited to be a part of this community," he said.

6:25 p.m. Pastner walks in the atrium of the Brooks Museum, where the well-heeled clientele is milling around during a cocktail hour. As always, Pastner wants to get down to business. "Am I speaking here?" he says, drawing chuckles.

6:30 p.m. Pastner is escorted into a downstairs auditorium, where a standing-room-only crowd of more than 250 brokerage clients eagerly awaits him. The emcee kids him for his youthfulness. "I don't know what kind of moisturizer he's using," the emcee says.

6:55 p.m. During a lively question-answer session, Pastner discusses his local recruiting strategy. Already, he has signed several top Memphis high school stars. "I want to put a barbed wire fence around the city," Pastner says. "Dogs. Sharks. In case anyone else tries to recruit here." The audience is overjoyed.

He also discusses his defense of the city's crime-ridden image to out-of-town recruits. They say it's 'horrible crime all over the city,' " Pastner says. "I tell them, 'This city is about hugs. You don't get a handshake from people. Just hugs.' "

7:05 p.m. Pastner tries to exit the auditorium, but he's blocked by about a dozen basketballs and sweatshirts that are presented for him to sign. He's handed a baby outfit as a gift and praised by the event's organizers. "There was great energy in the room," one tells Pastner.

7:19 p.m. Pastner's wife, Kerri, calls to see where her husband is. "Um, well, it was a huge mixup," Pastner says, adding later: "I'm glad I went. It was good."

7:21 p.m Back on campus, Pastner pulls over to greet freshman Jelan Kendrick, who is standing on a sidewalk. "How are you doing, Jelan? You did good today," Pastner says.

7:23 p.m. Pastner pulls up to two Memphis women's basketball players who are walking across a parking lot. "How you doing?" Pastner says. "... Go Tigers."

7:50 p.m. Pastner joins two acquaintances at the Germantown Commissary, a popular barbeque joint in an upscale suburb that is overflowing with customers wearing dress shirts and ties. Pastner still has his blue Memphis coach's shirt on, as if he isn't standing out enough already. "Be right with you, Coach," the server says, and he is. But instead of ordering a slab of the popular pork ribs with a beer or sweet tea, Pastner chooses soup, salad and water.

8:30 p.m. Only two customers seek autographs during Pastner's meal but the exit is another story. As Pastner nears the tight doorway, the Commissary's workers whip out cell-phone cameras and ask him to pose for several pictures in front of a wall that already has photos of golfer Phil Mickelson and several other celebrities who have visited. Pastner obliges. He'll still be home by 9 p.m., ready for some more work.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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