Magic Johnson

Did Magic Johnson originally commit to Michigan?

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Shannon Smith is a 5-foot-7 junior that plays for Michigan’s women’s team.

She took a roundabout way getting into the program, originally enrolling at North Carolina before spending a JuCo year down in Texas, but she’s there now, which puts the Smith family in an awkward position.

Her father, Kevin, played at Michigan State.

He’s a Spartan.

Whose daughter is now a Wolverine.

That’s a tough thing for a college sports fan to reconcile, but the elder Smith has a soft spot in his heart for Michigan. A local kid that once hit a halfcourt prayer to force overtime in a high school state title game against Magic Johnson, Smith originally committed to play for Michigan. He did so on a visit to the school with Magic. And Magic committed then, too. From Mike McCabe:

“I didn’t know if anyone knew that,” [Shannon] Smith said in a whisper. “Him and Magic committed to come here.”

Yes, they did, but it never became public knowledge.

“We were sitting in the stands next to Rick Leach,” Kevin said of the former U-M quarterback. “We looked at each other and we said: ‘We’re coming here. Roommates.’ ”

The plan never came to fruition, as Kevin ended up at Detroit for a year playing for Dick Vitale before transferring to Michigan State. And Magic? Well, he became a Spartan and led them to a national title win in one of the greatest college basketball games ever played, a battle with Larry Bird’s Indiana State team that launched a rivalry that ended up lasting a decade in the NBA.

And to think, it all could have been for naught.

If only Magic had ended up where he originally committed.

Knee injury temporarily 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.

Duke figuring out approach for this season

Duke University head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski speaks with the media about the Blue Devils' 2013-14 basketball season, Wednesday, March 26, 2014, in Durham, N.C. (Chuck Liddy/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT via Getty Images)
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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.