Kevin Ware  Tymell Murphy

Florida International’s postseason ban could provide three impact transfers

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On Tuesday afternoon, Florida International was one of the six schools that found themselves banned from postseason competition for the 2013-2014 season due to low APR scores.

The Panthers have Isiah Thomas to thank for that one.

And while I say that sarcastically about new head coach Anthony Evans’ program, there could end up being a couple of coaches that truly are thankful that Isiah Thomas took three years out of his life to wreck FIU’s APR scores, one of which is former FIU head coach and current Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino.

You see, the NCAA has a rule that says if the remainder of a player’s eligibility is to be played under a postseason ban, that player will be able to transfer to another program without having to sit out the mandatory one year. It’s the reason that Alex Oriakhi, a UConn transfer, was allowed to play at Missouri for his final collegiate season; UConn had an APR score that was too low. It was also why Keith Clanton became one of the nation’s most sought-after transfers last summer before he eventually decided to finish his career at Central Florida.

Minnesota has already earned a commitment from one former FIU player. Malik Smith committed to the Gophers back in May, and since he has one year of eligibility remaining, he should be immediately eligible for the Gophers.

And he may not be the only one, either. Raheem Buckles, a 6-foot-7 forward that had a promising-but-injury plagued three-year stint at Louisville, sat out the 2012-2013 season and was expected to be a senior on this year’s FIU team. There have been rumors that Buckles could follow Pitino from FIU to Minnesota since Pitino got the job.

There are a couple of other players who could be on the move as well.

– FIU’s leading scorer last season was New York City native Tymell Murphy, a 6-foot-5 wing that averaged 14.6 points and 6.8 boards in his one year with the Panthers. He’s a JuCo transfer and has one year of eligibility remaining. Murphy already obtained a release from FIU to pursue a transfer, taking a long look at Hofstra and Iona before announcing that he would be returning to FIU for his senior year.

– Buckles wasn’t the only impact transfer buried on FIU’s bench last season. Raymond Taylor averaged 14.2 points and 5.9 assists at Florida Atlantic as a freshman in 2009-2010, but he saw his production drop over the course of his last two years at FAU. Taylor say out the 2012-2013 season and will be a fifth-year senior heading into next year. He’s 5-foot-6, but he’s a dynamic playmaker when he’s under control.

Rakeem Buckles, Tymell Murphy and Raymond Taylor.

Keep an eye out for those three names over the summer.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

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
Associated Press
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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.