As former Indiana star Victor Oladipo continues to see his name skyrocket up draft boards in preparation for this month’s NBA Draft, he is also continuing to rack up quite the mantle full of trophies for his tremendous junior season.
Besides leading Indiana to a stellar season that included being ranked No. 1 and winning it’s first outright Big Ten regular season championship since 1993, Oladipo was named the Big Ten’s defensive player of the year and also received player of the year honors from The Sporting News — among other awards.
Oladipo can now also add the Eddie Sutton Tustenugee Award to his list of accomplishments, and while awards like this are subject to certain criteria, it appears based on the description of the award from Tulsa World, that it fits the Indiana junior guard perfectly.
The Eddie Sutton Tustenugee Award is presented annually to a college basketball player who best exhibits the traits of tenacity and unselfishness that Sutton advocated during a coaching career that landed him in the College Basketball Hall of Fame. In the language of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation – one of the Five Civilized Tribes that settled in Oklahoma – “tustenugee” means “warrior.”
Said Tulsa Sports Charities director Tommy Thompson in a release which accompanied the announcement: “Victor Oladipo certainly performed like a warrior last season. He played defense with a relentless and persistent passion, the true embodiment of an Eddie Sutton warrior.”
Sutton — one of the most successful coaches in college basketball history and one of only eight coaches to surpass 800 wins — would have probably enjoyed coaching a player like Victor Oladipo, so the award seems to have gone to the right player this season.
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 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.