The University of North Carolina's Marshall reacts as he leaves the court following North Carolina's win over Duke University in their NCAA basketball game in Durham,

Kendall Marshall deserves to be a first-team All-American

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With the NCAA’s regular season coming to a close this weekend, the postseason awards discussion has kicked into high gear.

We already know that Thomas Robinson and Anthony Davis are going to be the two players that get the most consideration when it comes to Player of the Year. Draymond Green has thrown his name into that conversation as well. That means that the front court is pretty much solidified in regards to first team All-Americans.

Who ends up getting selected in the back court is still up in the air, however. But I think we can settle the debate on the point guard fairly quickly: Kendall Marshall.

Marshall entered the season as, more or less, a one trick pony. We knew he was the best passer in the country. We knew that he was the engine that would make the high-powered UNC offense go. That wasn’t a secret.

But what Marshall has shown over the last few weeks is that he’s more than just a passer. The kid can score, too, and he proved it as No. 6 North Carolina ran through No. 4 Duke 88-70 on Saturday evening.

Marshall finished with 20 points and 10 assists against the Blue Devils. This came less than two weeks after he had one of the most dominant performances of the year against NC State, when he finished with 22 points, 13 assists and zero turnovers while shooting 7-8 from the floor and 4-5 from three.

What’s great about Marshall, however, is that he doesn’t need to score. He knows that he has a ton of talent around him; at least four Tar Heels will go in the first round of whatever NBA Draft they end up entering. That’s why he’s scored in double figures a whopping five times this season and averages all of 6.8 ppg. He picks his spots. He knows his role. That may be his most valuable attribute as a player.

Having a point guard that is capable of getting his own bucket at the end of a clock is so important, and UNC fans can rest assured that Marshall is more than up to the task.

If All-American standing was determined by who would win a 1-on-1 tournament, Marshall wouldn’t have a shot going up against the likes of Tyshawn Taylor and Damian Lillard.

But there probably aren’t five players in the country that are more important to their team than Marshall is to UNC. If that doesn’t make him deserving of being an All-American, than I don’t know what does.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Knee injury temporarily sidelines Memphis assistant

Toronto Raptors vs Charlotte Hornets
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With practices beginning this weekend, not only are players looking to avoid the injury bug but their coaches are as well. And in the case of Memphis, the Tigers won’t have one of their assistants on the court for a little while due to a knee injury.

Assistant coach Damon Stoudamire, who returned to Josh Pastner’s staff this summer after a two-year stint at Arizona, suffered the injury during a recent workout according to L. Jason Smith of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. And Stoudamire will require surgery, which will put him on the shelf for a little bit.

“He was working out himself and I think he thought he was in his rookie year,” Pastner said. “We think he’s got a torn meniscus, which will require surgery and put him out for a couple of days.”

Stoudamire isn’t the only assistant coach working through pain either. Syracuse’s Mike Hopkins, who is also Jim Boeheim’s heir apparent as head coach, suffered a neck injury body surfing during a family vacation last month. Hopkins spent some time in a neck brace while putting players through workouts as a result of the injury.

As for the Tigers, they’ll have a mixture of experience on the perimeter and youth in the front court as they look to get back to the NCAA tournament after missing out last season. Among the newcomers are talented forwards Dedric and K.J. Lawson, with experienced guards such as Kedren Johnson, Trahson Burrell and Ricky Tarrant (grad transfer from Alabama) expected to be key contributors on the perimeter.

Duke figuring out approach for this season

Duke University head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski speaks with the media about the Blue Devils' 2013-14 basketball season, Wednesday, March 26, 2014, in Durham, N.C. (Chuck Liddy/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT via Getty Images)
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Duke is coming off of a national championship but the roster will look almost completely different for the 2015-16 season. That means last season’s approach to things on the offensive and defensive end will have to change and head coach Mike Krzyzewski mentioned to reporters on Friday how the Blue Devils are still figuring some things out.

“We’re putting in a different offensive system, to personalize it for these guys,” Krzyzewski said to reporters. “And a different defensive system so that we can max out on the talents that they have.

“We’re really proud of our team. I think we’re going to be a really good team.”

Without Jahlil Okafor in the middle, Duke’s offense could shift to a mostly perimeter-oriented team, as the wing and guard depth is superior for this year’s group.  Coach K and his staff making adjustments to schemes to fit personnel is a nice move from the Hall of Famer, as he’s done a better job in recent years of making adjustments like this after his stint with USA Basketball.

As the program moves on from Okafor, Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow and Quinn Cook, it’ll be intriguing to see who emerges as a potential go-to offensive player early in the season and how Duke’s offense potentially evolves as the season wears on.