Iowa State v Notre Dame

Patrick Connaughton spending offseason pitching in the Cape Cod League

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Most college basketball players spend their springs and summers relaxing.

Yeah, they’re still going to be working out and training to get better. Some are going to be focusing on getting healthy and rehabbing nagging injuries. The best of the best get a chance to practice with Team USA and, if they’re good enough, head overseas to represent our country.

In short, the offseason is dedicated to making sure that they are better basketball players next season.

The same can’t be said for Notre Dame’s sophomore shooting guard Patrick Connaughton.

He spent his spring pitching for the Irish baseball team, starting 10 games and going 4-2 with a 1.71 ERA.

And this summer, he’s pitching for the Harwich Mariners in the Cape Cod League, a league dedicated to showcasing the country’s best collegiate baseball players. Think about that. He’s a starter on a team that will finish near the top of the ACC in hoops and one of the better pitchers in the country on the diamond.

That’s not an easy thing to do, even if he does fall in love with Jessica Biel while there.

“A lot of kids I know and have competed against say they also want to play two sports at school, but I tell them, you’ve got to be ready for it,” Connaughton told the Cape Cod Chronicle. “It’s a tough task if you want to excel at both. It’s a lot of behind the scenes stuff that takes a lot of time and effort. You’ve got to treat your body right and stay on top of school work so that you’re not ineligible for one sport much less two. You have to spend more time in the weight room and really make your time count.”

Connaughton is a talent on the hardwood and a key cog for the Irish heading into the 2013-2014 season. He’s a big, physical guard that’s a knock-down three-point shooter, a leader and the team’s defensive stopper. He’s strong enough in the paint and on the glass that head coach Mike Brey should be able to play four guard lineups next season.

But here’s the thing: he’s probably got a brighter future as a pitcher. He’s got the size, he can hit mid-90s with his fastball and he’s got four other pitches in his arsenal. Those aren’t a dime-a-dozen.

Nobody does two-sport stars like Notre Dame. In recent years, both Golden Tate and Jeff Samardzija have reached the pros, Tate in football and Samardzija in baseball, after starring in two sports for the Golden Domers.

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.