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C.J. McCollum: “I broke my foot” [VIDEO]

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C.J. McCollum has missed only one game in his storied career to date. The first — but not likely to be the last — was a December 20th game at North Texas, which his team won without him. He made today’s start against VCU and made it partway through the first half before he attempted to drive through the center of the Havoc defense and left the court favoring his left leg. The Mountain Hawks lost the game 59-55, but the team, and McCollum, may have lost a good deal more than that.

TV cameras captured McCollum on the bench in the second half, nursing his heavily bandaged left foot. With tears streaming down his cheeks, McCollum said something to the player sitting next to him. I’m not an expert lip reader, but the TV commentators agreed that it looked every bit like he said “I broke my foot.”

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If that is the case, the injury will derail one of the greatest senior seasons the NCAA has ever seen. McCollum was leading the nation in scoring, bringing a 25.7 points per game average into Richmond.

The ramifications may be even worse than the loss of a senior season. More than 30 professional scouts were in Virginia to evaluate McCollum, who is listed by DraftExpress as the 12th-best NBA prospect in their top 100 list. He’s the top player listed as a point guard. McCollum is known as a dynamite scorer, so a chance to prove his ballhandling abilities in front of scouts would have likely moved him up a few draft boards. Going lame before he really had his shot at breaking open “Havoc” is a bitter pill to swallow. If the injury ends his season, it’s devastating.

An official doctor’s report will shed more light on the severity of McCollum’s injury, but if it is, indeed a broken foot that ends his senior season, there may be much more than this year’s campaign at risk.

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.