Rotnei Clarke

Late Rotnei Clarke push comes up short, No. 11 Butler upset by Charlotte


Butler superhero transfer Rotnei Clarke showed up a little too late to save the Bulldogs Wednesday night.

Despite scoring 15 points in the final 3:24 of regulation, the Bulldogs couldn’t stop a physical interior-minded Charlotte team and fell, 71-67, at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind.

This isn’t a Butler team we’re used to seeing, though. The Bulldogs were without center Andrew Smith, a rock in the paint that had been averaging 11.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. Whereas the Bulldogs were able to use Smith to try to negate a disadvantage inside previously, his absence made for a long night of Butler defense.

Charlotte wanted to work the ball to the rim the entire night and was never really stopped, on its way to 52 percent shooting on the night.

But even considering that, Butler was within one possession late and had a chance to tie the game, trailing by only two when coach Brad Stevens called a timeout to draw up a play with three seconds to play. A pass toward the rim was intercepted and that was the game.

Luckily for Brad Stevens’ team, Smith is only slated to miss one more game and that comes against Fordham, a team that is 2-7 in conference play and 6-18 overall.

Another positive takeaway is this: How long can one reasonably keep Rotnei Clarke in a slump? The answer is usually “not long.” He found his groove in the final three minutes and came about as close as anyone could imagine to single-handedly bringing a team back from a double-digit deficit.

Clarke has only been held without a double-digit scoring night three times this season when he has been able to play full minutes and Butler is still 2-1 in those games.

This loss will sting in the short term, but Butler should be back on track when Smith returns.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

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.