Boise State going from blue turf to bluegrass?

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The Mountain West took some flak for getting multiple teams into this past season’s NCAA tournament, and the criticism was seemingly borne out as the league’s five bid-earners went 2-5 overall in tournament play. Boise State was one of the disappointments, losing out to La Salle in the preliminary games in Dayton.

So, the Broncos are looking to be a tougher out next season, and head coach Leon Rice knows from his time as an assistant at Gonzaga that mid-major credibility is built by playing anyone, anywhere, any time. He’s shooting for the moon as he attempts to fill out next season’s non-conference slate, trying to get a one-off date with the pre-pre-pre-season favorites, the Kentucky Wildcats, according to the Idaho Statesman.

The Broncos lose only one senior and return their top six scorers, making them a potential Top 25 and NCAA Tournament team. Rice noted that the November victory at then-No. 11 Creighton “was the gift that kept on giving” as the Broncos rode the tournament bubble and eventually made the NCAA field last month.

“We think we’re going to have a pretty good team coming back, so we want to give them some high-level games and high-level opportunities,” Rice said Thursday.

Of course, scheduling these types of games is only half of the equation. Winning at least one marquee matchup, as the Broncos did in Omaha last season, is key. If the Wildcats play like they did in their most recent NIT-flameout season, rather than their 2012 national championship-winning form, anything is possible.

Knee injury temporarily 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.

Duke figuring out approach for this season

Duke University head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski speaks with the media about the Blue Devils' 2013-14 basketball season, Wednesday, March 26, 2014, in Durham, N.C. (Chuck Liddy/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT via Getty Images)
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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.