A well known name over the last decade of Arizona Basketball has been Hal Pastner, the father of ex-UA assistant and current Memphis head coach Josh Pastner, whose team will face the Wildcats on Friday in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Hal Pastner's Houston Hoops AAU program has produced ex-Wildcats Nic Wise, Fendi Onobun and Jawann McClellan. The elder Pastner attended several UA games while his son was in Tucson and the players that Arizona landed from him obviously helped shape several Wildcats teams over the past several years.
When Pastner realized his son would be taking on Arizona in the first round, it was an exciting moment.
"I thought it was pretty neat," Hal Pastner said. "It was interesting. Obviously I want Memphis to win but I just thought it was pretty cool. I would say it's an exciting challenge. He has a job to do. He's focused on getting the job done and winning."
Even though Josh left Arizona, Hal has followed the UA program closely, as he's friends with Lute Olson and has had such a longtime relationship with the program.
"I watch most of the games," Pastner said. "If the game is on TV then I'll watch it. We keep an eye out for Arizona Basketball."
Over the last two years, Hal has admired the job that Sean Miller has done at Arizona, although he's not surprised about the program's continued success, as Josh told him what kind of coach Miller was.
"Josh has always been so positive about Arizona," Hal said. "When (Miller) was hired (Josh) said he was a great coach. Look at his record; everywhere he's gone he's won. But he seems like he's done it the right way. He's honest, he's straight and he's a hard worker. He has the reputation of a solid, honest guy."
Josh Pastner has said that he voted for Derrick Williams as Player of the Year, which Hal Pastner agrees with.
"Derrick Williams to me is the best player in the country," Hal said. "What I love about him is how hard he plays, his attitude – he plays with a smile – he's tremendously skilled, and he's really improved. He improves actually every game."
It was well known that Josh Pastner wanted the job as Arizona's head coach before it went to Sean Miller, but despite that, his dad doesn't think he'll be entering the game trying to prove anything that he wouldn't be trying to prove anyway.
"I think all of us in life try to prove ourselves everyday," Hal said. "Prove and improve. I can't speak for him but it's not so much to prove but to continue to improve and get better and grow.
"I don't think he's trying to prove himself, but I think he's just trying to do the best he can. I don't think he's trying to show people this or that."
Hal Pastner has a lot to be proud of considering everything that his son has accomplished, and regardless of what happens on Friday, knows his son is doing the best he can in Memphis.
"I'm proud because he works hard," he said. "Everything is about effort. If you don't put in the effort, you don't gain anything. He works hard and he's dedicated to give his best.
"But we do love Memphis. Arizona is a great basketball town but Memphis is too. Two great basketball towns he's been in, Arizona and Memphis. The enthusiasm from both is tremendous; it's really something in his two positions in the game to be around two great fan bases."
Hal Pastner looking forward to matchup
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