Andrew Wiggins

World Team coasts to victory in Nike Hoop Summit

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With three of the last four Nike Hoop Summit contests being decided by single digits, Saturday’s matchup between the USA Select and World teams didn’t look to be one that would get out of hand.

But thanks to the superior rebounding and ball movement of the World Team there wasn’t much suspense in Portland, as the World won 112-98 at the Rose Garden.

Andrew Wiggins was the most notable name on the World roster and he certainly had an impact, accounting for 17 points, nine rebounds and four assists on the evening. Wiggins is down to four schools, with Florida State, Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina still jockeying for his services.

But the biggest star may have been French forward Livio Jean-Charles, who tallied 27 points on 10-of-13 shooting along with 13 rebounds.

As a team the World out-rebounded the USA 50-35, and with guards Wiggins, Dennis Schroeder (Germany) and Dante Exum (Australia) leading the way Roy Rana’s team assisted on 24 of its 38 made baskets.

“That was a really good game for the World Team, and probably the most impressive thing is the way we’ve shared the ball from the very first practice,” said Rana following the win.

“I thought there was great chemistry, kids just phenomenal to coach. Like I told them in the locker room, certainly going to be one of my more memorable coaching experiences, just because of the quality of the kids that we’ve had here this week.”

By comparison the USA Select team accounted for just 15 assists on 37 made field goals, with guards Kasey Hill (five) and Andrew Harrison (four) the only players to record multiple assists.

Jabari Parker, who will attend Duke next season, led the Americans with 23 points and Kentucky commits Andrew Harrison and Julius Randle added 19 apiece. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who will attend Arizona, scored 17 points off the bench.

As a result of the victory the World team has won consecutive games in the Nike Hoop Summit for the first time in the history of the event. The question going forward is whether or not 2014 prospect Karl Towns Jr. (Kentucky commitment) can help carry the torch for the World team in next year’s event.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

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.