In this edition of Pastner's Notebook, Arizona men's basketball assistant coach Josh Pastner talks about his personal ties to Hurricane Katrina, collegiate Olympians and sophomore guard Mustafa Shakur's work ethic.
Wildcat: You grew up in the Houston area, which is somewhat near Louisiana. How have you been affected by Hurricane Katrina?
Pastner: No one directly in my family (has been), but I know quite a few people who have been affected. Someone who is familiar is Eugene Edgerson's family, Eugene being a former player here. His family had to relocate to Houston. They lost everything. Eugene's mom and his brothers and sisters, they lost everything.
I know some other people in the basketball business who are friends of mine, who lost everything down there from Katrina. It's a devastating tragedy. It's as sad as can be, and the only thing you can do is give out your prayers and your thoughts and your support for the years to come.
Any day above ground is a great day. You should call your loved ones every single day and tell them you love them and give them hugs. You have to do that stuff every day because things can get taken anyway at any second and you don't want to live with regrets.
Wildcat: Was anyone from the current team directly affected?
Pastner: Nobody from our current team was directly affected.
Wildcat: What is the team doing to help the relief efforts?
Pastner: We're going to be doing some stuff individually. I know (Arizona head coach Lute) Olson will be donating some stuff through a coaches' network. They're taking stuff from all these different coaches and auctioning them off. A bunch of coaches donated money to the Red Cross.
Anything helps, whether it's one dollar or $5 million. Every dollar will go towards something that's useful for the people that got hurt by the storm.
Wildcat: Switching gears to basketball, what is your opinion on having college players possibly play in the Olympics?
Pastner: I think it would be great if college players could play in the Olympics. It would be a super thing, but I think you need to have the 12 best players to make a team. Not the best individual players, but the best 10 or 12 players in the world that fit the team mold, that would help you win the gold medal.
That's the whole thing. It's not all about 12 superstars. It's more about 10 or 12 guys who fit what you do, and 10 or 12 of the best team players that will buy into the system and do what they need to do help the team win.
Wildcat: So you think it's a good idea to have some NBA players and also sprinkle in some college players?
Pastner: Yeah, I think that's a great idea, but the NBA players don't all have to be NBA all-stars. They have to be guys that fit what the team wants. A great example of this is the movie "Miracle on Ice," which was a true story. If you watched it, they didn't have all-stars, but they had the best kids who were best suited to help their team win.
Wildcat: Moving on to Arizona basketball, (sophomore forward) Jawann McClellan has made it public that he was declared ineligible for the fall but has stayed upbeat and remains very positive that his appeal will go through and that he will be in uniform. Are you able to comment on the situation?
Pastner: I can't really comment on the situation because of privacy issues, but we're going to support Jawann and we're always going to have Jawann back (in the spring). I can't really go into detail but coach Olson, the rest of the staff and his teammates are going to support him and have his back at all times.
Wildcat: Jawann has also been battling tendonitis in his lower leg. Is that serious at this point?
Pastner: It's very minor. It's more precautionary than anything.
Wildcat: This being Mustafa Shakur's junior season, it may be a make-or-break season for him. What has he been working on, and how much is he progressing?
Pastner: He's worked on a floater in the lane and he has been working on creating his own shot. He's been getting better in different areas. He needs to really open up his game, but he looks great.
The whole thing about Mustafa is his work ethic is terrific. He has an awesome work ethic, and when your starting point guard is one of your hardest workers on the team, that does a lot for everyone else. He's going to have a terrific year. He's worked his tail off, and we're expecting big things from him.
Wildcat: (Senior guard) Chris Rodgers has looked impressive in pick-up games and workouts thus far in the offseason, especially with his passing.
Pastner: Chris has looked great. In the practices, Chris is playing at an extremely high level, which is a great sign. Chris is one of the hardest workers. He's a complete gym rat, and his game is right now at an all-time high level. If he can keep it consistent (offensively), he already is a great defender. If he can stay consistent at an elite level on the offensive end, he's going to be awfully good. He's going to have an unbelievable year this year.
Wildcat: (Former Arizona guard) Salim Stoudamire recently signed a contract with the Atlanta Hawks after they drafted him in the second round. How will he fit on that team?
Pastner: I think it's a great deal for the Hawks. I think it's awesome and I think it's a great spot for him with Atlanta. I think it's a smart move for Atlanta drafting him early. Salim is as good of a shooter as there is, who can step in and help a team like the Atlanta Hawks win games from day one.
I think they saw it and they knew they wanted to lock him up. They need a guy like that because the opposition has to guard him at all times. He is a threat every time he has the ball or he doesn't have the ball. He is always a threat to score.