John Thompson III

No ‘Princeton offense’ at Georgetown according to John Thompson III

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Ever since John Thompson III took over as the head coach at Georgetown, a program lifted to national prominence by his father, more than a few people have taken to calling his offensive system the “Princeton offense.” JTIII played his college basketball at Princeton under the famed Pete Carril, and that fact along with some visual similarities led to the label being applied to what the Hoyas were doing offensively.

The problem with that is the label’s been used every season to describe what Georgetown’s doing offensively, much to the chagrin of the head coach. And coach Thompson doesn’t want to hear anymore talk about the Hoyas running the “Princeton offense” according to Ben Standig of CSN Washington.

“…If you look at our teams when we had Greg Monroe, we did things very, very differently. But the world has decided that every year we come out and this is what we’re doing.

“In my head, I want to get five, skilled unselfish guys on the court. In my head, I want to get guys that can play multiple positions,” continued Thompson. “I HATE the concept of, “I’m a one, you’re two, you’re a three, a four, a five.” I don’t coach like that. Now , in the course of playing, will (guard) Markel Starks , (guard) D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera have the ball in their hands bringing the ball up the court more than (frontcourt options) Josh Smith and Mikael Hopkins and Nate Lubick will?

“Absolutely, but if you just get guys who are basketball players, you don’t have to worry is Markel the one or is D’Vauntes the one, is Markel the two or is D’Vauntes the two. They both can do things that the one does and the two does. Depending on the matchups, the scouting report, each one does it.”

There tends to be a habit of simply applying a label to a system without acknowledging the differences from year to year. Georgetown’s top three players in possession percentage (and three of their top four in offensive rating, per last season were perimeter players, led by Big East Player of the Year Otto Porter Jr. In the season prior it was senior center Henry Sims who led the Hoyas in possession percentage, factoring into 28.6% of Georgetown’s possessions.

With the value that Thompson places of versatility, what Georgetown does offensively this season could potentially look much different than it did last season. Starks and Smith-Rivera will factor into the equation, and now we get to see how much of an impact skilled UCLA transfer Joshua Smith can have after the NCAA cleared him to play this season.

Regardless of who’s at Thompson’s disposal, it’s clear that versatility is of far greater value to Georgetown than any particular “system.”

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.