Rising Coaches Elite

Rising Coaches Elite provides aspiring coaches valuable networking, learning opportunities

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While it doesn’t receive the level of attention that areas such as recruiting and player development do when discussing college basketball during the summer, the art of networking can be vital for those who are looking to improve their professional standing within the game.

That’s a relatively easy process for the coaches, as the three five-day evaluation periods give them a chance to not only observe players but also communicate with each other. While that could be simply a matter of catching up with old acquaintances, there’s also the ability to exchange ideas on a number of topics.

But what about those support staffers, the graduate assistants, directors of basketball operations and video staffers do since they aren’t allowed to hit the road (representing a school) during this period? That’s where Rising Coaches Elite comes into play.

Created by former Clemson basketball staffers Adam Gordon (currently director of operations at Mississippi State), Andy Farrell (assistant at Longwood) and Trey Meyer (assistant at Miami University), Rising Coaches Elite will hold its fourth annual conference in Las Vegas beginning Tuesday.

To read through NBCSports.com’s series on July’s live recruiting period, click here.

And the fourth edition will also include a Rising Athletic Directors Conference, an opportunity that wasn’t available the first three years.

“After all of the Rising Coaches conferences we’d sit down and ask all the attendees during an open panel discussion what they wanted to see and what could be done better,” said Farrell in a phone interview with NBC Sports.

“A lot of people mentioned, ‘what if an athletic director came to speak with us about what they expect from our position?’ So once [the founders] broke it down some more, we thought that since we’re doing this for the young coaches what if we could reach young aspiring athletic directors too?”

Also instrumental in the process of adding a conference for those who aspire to ultimately become athletic directors was Ben Rosenfeld, who is currently the director of sport administration for the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC). This would ultimately lead to the formation of Rising Athletic Directors, and it can only help those involved on both sides of the process.

Aspiring coaches get to learn not only from those are coaching, but they also get to learn from athletic administrators while networking with the people who could very well determine whether or not they’re hired for a job down the line.

This year’s group will get to hear from head coaches such as Andy Enfield (USC), Kerry Keating (Santa Clara) and Pat Skerry (Towson) in addition to multiple assistants and college administrators. There’s also the ability to interact with other success stories, with Farrell being one of the many who have experienced success in their careers since participating in Rising Coaches Elite.

In addition to the current group of staffers throughout the country there are others, whether it’s your team managers or walk-ons who see little playing time, who hope to begin their coaching journey by landing a support staff position in the near future.

According to Farrell, there are a couple things an aspiring coach needs to do in order to successfully make the transition.

“First and foremost they need to let someone, a mentor, know that they’re looking,” said Farrell. “You’ve got to let your mentors know that you’re looking, because once they know then they can start using their experience, knowledge and network.

“The other thing I would suggest for them to do is work camps. Find any and every way to get to know the people you’re working the camps with and the program you’re working the camp for. Because while that may not get you a job right away, those are the connections and networking opportunities that will take you infinitely farther.”

Farrell also noted the need to continue to learn, whether it’s about the Xs and Os of the game or other areas that programs need to take care of in order to be successful. And given the number of participants who have gone on to enjoy success in their careers, it’s become evident that Rising Coaches Elite has been a positive factor in this regard.

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
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.