Hofstra takes another hit as knee issues end Jamal Coombs-McDaniel’s season

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The hits just keep on coming for Mo Cassara and the Hofstra Pride.

After getting through a November that was capped by the dismissal of four players due to their arrest on charges of burglary, December won’t close well either as it was reported by Jeff Goodman of that junior forward Jamal Coombs-McDaniel will miss the remainder of the season due to lingering knee problems.

Coombs-McDaniel, a reserve on Connecticut’s 2011 national championship team, was expected to be an impact transfer alongside Penn State transfer Taran Buie entering the 2012-13 season but that never materialized as the Boston native never took the floor for the Pride.

Add in Hawaii transfer Shaquille Stokes being one of the four players dismissed from the team and Buie (15.3 ppg) is the lone transfer making his Hofstra debut in 2012-13 that remains. Also dismissed from the program in late November were freshman Jimmy Hall, the team’s leading rebounder at the time, Kentrell Washington and Dallas Anglin.

Sitting at 3-8 with a game against Tulane on Saturday, Hofstra has struggled mightily on the offensive end of the floor as they’re averaging just 63.9 points per game. And in the Pride’s last six games, all losses, they’ve managed to score more than 57 points just once (88-84 loss to LIU Brooklyn).

The 6-7 Coombs-McDaniel, who was a very good scorer in high school at the Tilton School, was expected to given Cassara a much-needed offensive option upon his return to the court. But that isn’t going to happen, and will ultimately keep Hofstra down in the lower region of the CAA standings.

With teams such as Drexel (3-7), Delaware (3-8) and Old Dominion (1-10) off to slow starts, year one after the departure of VCU has not been a good one for the CAA.

Just two teams (William & Mary and George Mason) have above .500 records currently, and with Towson, UNCW (both for APR issues), Georgia State and ODU (those two are joining new conferences) ineligible for the conference tournament who knows what will happen in March.

But with their severely depleted roster, it’s difficult to see a Hofstra team that’s down to seven scholarship players being able to take advantage of the situation and grab the CAA’s automatic bid.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Louisville backcourt struggles in first scrimmage

Quentin Snider, Jerian Grant
Associated Press
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While a few teams did manage to hold special events for the official start of practice this weekend, most simply went about their business with drills and conditioning. One team that was the exception to all of this was Louisville, which held the first of its two intersquad scrimmages on Saturday. The Cardinals had a head start of sorts on the season, as they played six exhibition games in Puerto Rico this summer.

One hope heading into Saturday’s scrimmage was that guards Trey Lewis and Quentin Snider would have better chemistry than they did in Puerto Rico. But according to Jeff Greer of the Louisville Courier-Journal, that remains a work in progress for the Cleveland State transfer (Lewis) and rising sophomore (Snider).

They struggled in Puerto Rico, and they struggled again in Saturday’s Red-White scrimmage, the first public intrasquad practice since August. They played one half of the game together, paired with the presumed starting lineup with Mangok Mathiang out with an eye injury, a group that also included Damion Lee, Jaylen Johnson and Chinanu Onuaku.

That team lost the first half by 13 points to a younger group of Louisville players, and Lewis and Snider combined for eight points on 3-of-12 shooting, five turnovers, five steals, four assists and three rebounds.

“I thought (Snider) and (Lewis) did not play well together,” U of L coach Rick Pitino said. “They’ve got to get used to that. Neither guy made other guys better. That’s what they need to learn to do.”

As Greer also noted in his story the Cardinals have in recent years employed backcourt tandems in which both guards are capable of making plays for themselves and others. On the 2013 national champion team Peyton Siva and Russ Smith led the way, with Smith being joined by Terry Rozier or Chris Jones the following season and Rozier/Jones being the grouping last season before the latter was dismissed from the team.

Once Jones was dismissed Snider saw more time on the court, and his development was one of the keys for a Louisville team that fell one win short of the Final Four. Louisville needs him to take another step forward heading into the 2015-16 season, because even with Lewis’ experience at the Division I level Snider has more experience playing in Pitino’s system.

But while Saturday’s scrimmage didn’t go as well as anyone involved hoped, there’s still plenty of time for Louisville to work out the kinks before they open the season November 13 against Samford.

Knee injury sidelines Memphis assistant

Toronto Raptors vs Charlotte Hornets
Associated Press
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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.