Michigan St Midnight Madness Basketball

NCAA moves start of college basketball practices up two weeks

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College basketball teams will be allowed to begin practice two weeks earlier thanks to new NCAA legislation.

During the Division I Board of Directors meeting Thursday it was decided that teams can begin practice 42 days before the first game of the regular season.

Teams aren’t allowed to play official games (exhibition games don’t count, obviously) until the second Friday of November at the earliest, and the rules change means that teams can begin practice in late-September.

During that six week period teams will be allowed up to 30 practices, and the change moves men’s basketball rules in this area closer to the practice rules for women’s basketball teams (which are allowed begin practice 40 days before their first game).

The original proposal allowed practice to start 40 days before the first game, but the Council members adjusted the rule to accommodate for Midnight Madness events often planned around the first men’s basketball practice. Because a significant number of teams start playing games on the first day the rules allow it (the second Friday in November), the first day for practice would fall on a Sunday, which is not conducive to Midnight Madness events. Expanding the time period to 42 days allows the first practice to be held on a Friday.

Under the old rules teams were allowed 24 practices over a 30-day period, but that changes with the new legislation. Also of note is the removal of the rule prohibiting teams from holding their first practice of the season before 5 p.m. local time.

Will that change lead to another change to “Midnight Madness” festivities? Probably not. Unless a school happens to be on fall break, it would be tough to schedule a midday event given the need for both the players and student body as a whole to attend class.

But with recent ideas in college basketball such as playing on an aircraft carrier or on a military base, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if some enterprising athletic department came up with something to take advantage of the rule change.

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
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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.