I don’t know if Bruce Weber has any ruby slippers (and if so, I’m not judging) but if he does, it’s time to click them together and chant “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.”
That’s how Dorothy got back to Kansas, and that’s where Weber would no doubt like to be after his Wildcats suffered a 73-67 road loss at Iowa State today. Kansas State shot 64 percent in the second half in Ames, and over 50 percent for the game, but that simply wasn’t enough against the famed Hilton Magic, which is in full force again now that Fred “The Mayor” Hoiberg is in his third season at the helm of his alma mater.
Iowa State was blazing from deep, shooting 50 percent from behind the three-point line. That perimeter sharpshooting was almost good enough to upset Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse earlier this season, and it will no doubt continue to characterize the Cyclone attack. But the team concept, when it fires on all cylinders, is something to behold. Korie Lucious dished out eight assists, freshman stud Georges Niang made crucial baskets, and Melvin Ejim had 10 boards to go with a couple of highlight-reel slams that kept his team in the lead despite the furious K-State comeback attempt.
Will Clyburn was the hero of the day for Iowa State, however, pouring in 24 points and snagging ten boards of his own to help out Ejim on the glass.
Kansas State fans should not be panicking, by any means. This week’s two losses were the first losing streak the Wildcats have experienced so far this season, and they’re bound to get well in a hurry facing Texas in the Octagon of Doom on Wednesday. Where the concern lies after this rough week is along the frontline, where the Wildcats had just five offensive boards against the Cyclones. Not such a horrible number when you’re shooting so well, but on nights when the ball can’t find the basket, those second chances are going to loom large.
Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.
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.
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.