Connell Crossland, Ben McLemore

Will Kansas’ team meeting get the Jayhawks back on track?


A day after an embarrassing and surprising loss to TCU, the Kansas Jayhawks held a team meeting, giving everyone a chance to speak and go over film from previous wins.

According to Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star, freshman guard Ben McLemore said he wanted to take more a leadership role during the meeting.

“I just said, I gotta help more, create little things for myself and for my teammates, and just try to be out there and be a leader, too,” McLemore said according to the Star. “Playing out there with four seniors, I can also be out there and be a leader.”

If McLemore, the team’s leading scorer, is serious about taking on this new role it could be the difference between Kansas getting out of or staying in this current funk. As Rob Dauster pointed out earlier in the day, the Jayhawk offense is struggling without a playmaker. Elijah Johnson and Naadir Tharpe — the two “point guards” — haven’t gotten the job done in conference play thus far shooting a combined 26.5 percent to go along 52 assists and 48 turnovers.

McLemore is scoring over 16 a game, but most of that comes in transition or spot-up shots. If McLemore is willing to create more scoring opportunities for not only himself, but for his teammates that takes a load off of Johnson and Tharpe.

For Bill Self, he is still confident in his team — the same one that 18 straight before dropping the last two.

“This is still the same team that was ranked No. 2 in the country six days ago,” said Self. “If our confidence is shaken, then we’re not very tough.”

It’s a slippery slope for KU. After falling to Oklahoma State at home and Wednesday’s loss to the Horned Frogs, the Jayhawks now  hit the road for a game Saturday against a solid Oklahoma team. Two days later Kansas hosts No. 13 Kansas State.

Terrence is also the lead writer at and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

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
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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.