In early July Mississippi Valley State head coach Chico Potts was arrested on charges of domestic violence following an altercation with his wife.
Friday it was reported by Andy Katz of ESPN.com that the school has suspended Potts indefinitely with pay until Mississippi Valley State’s investigation into the incident is completed.
“Effective immediately, Coach Potts has been suspended with pay,” university spokeswoman Jennifer Freeman said in a statement released by the school. “This suspension will remain in effect until the university completes its investigation. Associate basketball coach Marcus Thomas will serve as acting head basketball coach and lead the basketball program during the suspension.”
In his first season as head coach Potts led the Delta Devils to a 5-23 record, with all five of their wins coming in SWAC play. Mississippi Valley State returns five seniors from that team in 2013-14, including guard Darryl Marshall (7.9 ppg, 2.8 apg).
Also back is sophomore guard Matt Smith, who averaged 10.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per game in his rookie campaign. Acting head coach Marcus Thomas has head coaching experience, albeit not at the Division I level, as he led the program at Marion Military Institute from 2007-2011.
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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.
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.