Willie Cauley-Stein, Lucky Jones, Mike McFadden

Kentucky’s Cauley-Stein, Poythress explain why they’re coming back


After a disappointing season, a majority of Kentucky’s 2012 team that were considered possible NBA Draft picks decided to make the decision to stick around for at least one more year.

On Monday afternoon, center Willie Cauley-Stein and forward Alex Poythress told Kyle Tucker of the Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal their reasons for coming back. Not surprisingly, they included a disappointing 2012-13 season, which they capped with a loss at Robert Morris in the first round of the NIT.

(CLICK HERE to follow along with who is turning pro and who is returning to school.)

Poythress, who finished the season averaging 11.2 points and six rebounds per game while shooting 58.1 percent from the field, echoed that sentiment.

“I didn’t want to leave with a bad taste in my mouth. It was a tough loss for us. You didn’t want to end your college career like that.”

Apparently, Cauley-Stein’s decision wasn’t too tough either, just flat out calling it “easy”. He said his meeting with coach John Calipari was short, and pretty blunt.

“I could leave this year, go late first round or come back next year and have an opportunity to go really early (in the NBA draft).”

Cauley-Stein added that he didn’t think he would be a one-and-done, anyway. He averaged 8.3 points and 6.2 rebounds this past season and stepped into a more prominent role when center Nerlens Noel went down with a torn ACL in February.

Poythress was, at least to some extent, expected to be a candidate for the one-and-done route that so many stud players have taken under Calipari. Now that he’s not, he was asked if he was surprised when people expected him to leave.

“I just try to make my best decision for me. Really, they weren’t making the decision I was. Wherever I felt like was best for my situation, that’s what I made.”

This seems to be the message that all those players who could’ve tested the waters are repeating right now. Goodwin along with Noel, are the lone players to leave early off this season’s team. Goodwin finished his one-year career with the Wildcats averaging 14.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. Noel averaged 10.5 points and 9.5 rebounds this season prior to injury.

Follow David Harten on Twitter at @David_Harten

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.