Will Sheehey, Rotnei Clarke

Still no timetable for Butler guard Rotnei Clarke’s return

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When Butler senior guard Rotnei Clarke fell into the basket stanchion in the first half of the Bulldogs’ 79-73 win at Dayton on Saturday afternoon the worst was feared for the sharpshooter.

With the team unable to give a concrete timetable in regards to when Clarke would be able to return to the floor the thought was that he could be out for much of the month of January, with head coach Brad Stevens simply offering up that the injury “is not season-ending by any means.”

Clarke is sore due to the neck sprain he was able to return to Indianapolis with the team last night, and the question of when he’ll be able to make his return remains.

Butler released the following statement on Clarke’s status on Sunday afternoon:

The Butler scoring leader underwent an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) in Indianapolis on Saturday evening after returning from Dayton.  He received treatment and did a light workout on Sunday.  No time table has been set for his return.

“The MRI confirmed the presence of a significant neck sprain. His spinal cord and cervical discs were viewed  normal,” said Butler trainer Ryan Galloy.  “Right now, he’s sore and stiff, but he’s out of the collar.  The next question is when he can resume contact.”

The Bulldogs have two home games this week, with Richmond visiting on Wednesday night and No. 9 Gonzaga on Saturday, and it remains to be seen if Clarke is able to go through a full contact practice. Based on Galloy’s quote it’s pretty clear that Clarke would need to do so in order to entertain any thoughts of returning to the lineup.

Against Dayton the Bulldogs shot 58.1% from the field and assisted on 19 of their 25 made field goals with Roosevelt Jones (16 points), Andrew Smith (13) and Khyle Marshall (12) leading the way offensively.

But just as big in the win was the production of the Butler bench. The Bulldog reserves, led by Kellen Dunham (eight points) and Erik Fromm (seven), outscored Dayton’s reserves 27-19.

With Clarke out of the lineup for the foreseeable future Stevens will need his non-starters to contribute even more offensively, especially when Gonzaga visits on Saturday night.

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.