John Calipari is probably the most polarizing figure in college basketball.
Kentucky fans love him. Memphis fans loved him and now hate him, like just about every other fanbase in the country. Some media members think he’s a God, others consider him the worst thing to happen to college athletics since television contracts, while still others respect his coaching acumen while believing that, as a person, he’s the equivalent of the dirt that gets caked in-between the treads of your shoe.
I fall somewhere in the middle. I hate the one-and-done rule, but I think the way that Coach Cal takes advantage of it is genius. I don’t think he’s a great x’s-and-o’s coach, but I’m not sure there is anyone better at being the CEO of a program — recruiting, teamwork, salesmenship, etc. I don’t know him well enough to have an opinion of him personally, but I love nothing more than needling Big Blue Nation with quips about him.
But if there is anything that his critics and his supporters can agree on, it’s that Cal does do a lot of good for charity. There was the Hoops for Haiti program that raised more than a $1 million in support after the earthquake. There was the money he raised to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy. And now, Coach Cal is auctioning off the shoes he wore on Saturday against LSU to raise money for Coaches vs. Cancer.
In addition to the shoes, which are signed by Cal and were worn to help promote Cancer awareness, the winner of the auction — which, as of this posting, had reached more than $2,100 — will get two lower bowl tickets to the Mississippi State game and a piece of the National Championship court from last season.
(Image via EBay)
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
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.
Duke is coming off of a national championship but the roster will look almost completely different for the 2015-16 season. That means last season’s approach to things on the offensive and defensive end will have to change and head coach Mike Krzyzewski mentioned to reporters on Friday how the Blue Devils are still figuring some things out.
“We’re putting in a different offensive system, to personalize it for these guys,” Krzyzewski said to reporters. “And a different defensive system so that we can max out on the talents that they have.
“We’re really proud of our team. I think we’re going to be a really good team.”
Without Jahlil Okafor in the middle, Duke’s offense could shift to a mostly perimeter-oriented team, as the wing and guard depth is superior for this year’s group. Coach K and his staff making adjustments to schemes to fit personnel is a nice move from the Hall of Famer, as he’s done a better job in recent years of making adjustments like this after his stint with USA Basketball.
As the program moves on from Okafor, Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow and Quinn Cook, it’ll be intriguing to see who emerges as a potential go-to offensive player early in the season and how Duke’s offense potentially evolves as the season wears on.