Former Miami University, Central Michigan head coach Charlie Coles passes away


Friday afternoon the Miami University athletic department announced that former head coach Charlie Coles, the school’s all-time leader in victories, has passed away at the age of 71.

During his 16 seasons at Miami Coles won 266 games and led his alma mater to seven postseason appearances, with three being NCAA tournament berths. Coles’ best team at Miami was the 1998-99 edition (24-8; 15-3 MAC), led by Wally Szczerbiak, which reached the Sweet 16 before being eliminated by Kentucky.

Before his lengthy run at Miami Coles spent six seasons at Central Michigan (1985-91), posting a record of 92-84 and leading the Chippewas to an NCAA tournament appearance in 1987.

Coles’ best player during his time at CMU was Dan Majerle, who was selected in the first round of the 1988 NBA Draft and is now the head coach at Grand Canyon University.

Health issues ultimately led to Coles making the decision to retire at the end of the 2011-12 season.

“I made this decision before the year started,” Coles said. “Not the final decision, but the overall feeling. The final decision came when I got sick two weeks ago.

“I had a talk with my doctor,” he continued. “He said, ‘You’re going to be OK for three or four years, but sooner or later, you’re a guy that’s had two bypasses and extreme heart problems. So why don’t you just start considering not doing it now?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ It was a tough thing for me to tell my family, but I’ve got to go on.”

Before taking over at Miami Coles was an assistant on Herb Sendek’s staff at the school, and the current Arizona State head coach offered his thoughts on Coles’ passing Friday afternoon.

“I have so many fond memories of Charlie both as a friend and a coach, and many of them start with recruiting drives early in the morning with a cup of coffee on winding roads in southern Ohio,” says Coach Sendek. “Charlie made you laugh and made you think. He was comfortable and held court with one person or many. But I also want people to remember he was a great coach….a really, really, great coach. Much of what we try to instill today is what Charlie was teaching us two decades ago.

“We lost a great coach and a real great person to be around. He loved the game and poured his life into it. For that reason, all of us who were around Coach Coles are better coaches. “

Coles was a good coach who was also highly entertaining, and the below video of Coles’ meeting the press following a loss at Kentucky is a prime example of this.

Raphielle 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.