Ryan Kelly

Coach K, Duke expect Ryan Kelly to return

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Duke has played 15 games with Ryan Kelly and 11 without him. Following an 88-56 win at Virginia Tech on Thursday, the sixth-ranked Blue Devils are now 8-3 with Kelly in street clothes.

Even though Kelly has been sidelined with a right foot injury since Jan. 9, and is still seen in a walking boot, Mike Krzyzewski is confident he’ll have his senior forward back soon.

“We’re more optimistic,” Krzyzewski said after Thursday’s win. “Again, no timetable, but it’s moving. It’s moving in the right direction. Now we believe we’re going to get him back.”

Coach K went on to tell reporters that the 6-foot-11 Kelly has already begun physical activities, but has yet to get involved in any basketball-related workouts besides shooting free throws. Duke has five regular season games remaining to plug Kelly back into the lineup. Before the injury suffered during the Jan. 8 win over Clemson, Kelly was averaging 13.4 points and was the second-leading rebounder with 5.4 per game.

In a lineup with Mason Plumlee and Seth Curry, two candidates to be ACC Player of the Year, Kelly was arguably the most valuable player to Duke prior to his injury. He is a versatile defender and offensively adds another shooter on the perimeter, which in return opens up more for Plumlee down low.

Kelly had sustained an injury to the same foot in the latter part of last season, causing him to miss the ACC and NCAA tournaments. The Blue Devils lost two of the last three games that year without Kelly on the floor.

Duke is set to host Boston College on Sunday afternoon.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com 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
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.