Siena forward Lionel Gomis leaves program for family reasons

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Expected to contend in the MAAC this season, the first two months of the 2012-13 campaign have not gone according to plan for the Siena Saints.

With the return of Rakeem Brookins and forwards Lionel Gomis and Imoh Silas eligible, players such as O.D. Anosike and Evan Hymes were thought to have the help needed to be one of the teams in the race to grab the league’s automatic bid.

But at 2-9 and 0-2 in conference play the Saints have looked like anything but a contender. Siena will look to improve its standing without Gomis, as the school announced that the sophomore is leaving the program for family reasons.

“We’re sorry to see Lionel go, but respect his decision,” Buonaguro said in the statement released by the school.

This latest turn in Gomis’ career at Siena is also the last one, as it began with the NCAA ruling both he and Gomis ineligible for the 2011-12 season. Siena successfully petitioned the NCAA, which originally declared Gomis to be a senior, resulting in the Dakar, Senegal native having three seasons of eligibility.

The 6-8 Gomis played in just one game for Siena, playing two minutes in the Saints’ season-opening 54-53 loss to Vermont and tallying just one turnover.

But regardless of Gomis’ decision the fact remains that there are many issues plaguing the Saints, and it remains to be seen if Buonaguro and his staff are capable of making the proper adjustments. Siena’s averaging 56.9 points per game and shooting 38.2% from the field, with both numbers ranking last in the MAAC.

Brookins (13.2 ppg) and Anosike (13.0 ppg, 13.0 rpg) lead four players in double figures, but the issue has been the caliber of shot that Siena is taking (9th in the MAAC in efficiency per statsheet.com). Until that improves the Saints are going to struggle, and whether or not Gomis decided to remain in the program that was going to be the case.

Photo credit: Siena College

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
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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

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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.