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College Basketball Talk’s Player of the Year Power Rankings

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The 2013-2014 season is sure to be a thrilling Player of the Year race, so to keep track of it, we will be posting weekly Player of the Year Power Rankings for your reading goodness.

Who’d we miss? Who’s ranked too high? We love to overlook your team’s best player and overrate your rival’s superstar.

1) Shabazz Napier, UConn: Napier is averaging 16.4 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 5.6 apg and 1.9 spg through eight games. The Huskies are 8-0, but their four biggest wins have come by a combined five points. You want to take a guess who gets the ball in the clutch for the Huskies?

2) Jabari Parker, Duke: The Blue Devils have struggled a bit early on this season given their lack of interior play, but Parker’s been tremendous. He’s averaging 23.0 points and 8.0 boards, shooting 50% from three despite going 0-for-5 against Arizona.

3) Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State: Smart struggled a bit down in Orlando, but he’s still been arguably the most dominant all-around player in the country this season.

4) Julius Randle, Kentucky: The double-double machine saw his streak come to an end on Sunday night at the Barclays Center, but Randle is the best player on the team with the most potential in the country. He’ll be at the top of this list all season long.

5) Keith Appling, Michigan State: Appling has been the best player on the floor for the team that’s currently sitting at No. 1 in the country. The fact that he’s come up huge in the Spartan’s two biggest wins doesn’t hurt, either.

6) Nick Johnson, Arizona: Johnson is going to end up being the most important player on the Arizona roster. The Wildcats are going to have issues in the half-court against elite defenses, and he’s the guy with the talent to break people down. He’s also a terrific defender on a very, very good defensive team.

7) Doug McDermott, Creighton: Dougie McBuckets was McAwful against George Washington, struggling with the length and athleticism that Isaiah Armwood could throw at him.

8) Russ Smith, Louisville: Smith one Kenpom’s Player of the Year award last year, and he’s been more efficient this season than he was last season.

9) Jahii Carson, Arizona State: Carson’s Sun Devils had a rough weekend at the Wooden Legacy, and Carson had some issues with rolling his ankles. The one concern that popped up? Carson appeared to quite in a blowout loss to Creighton.

10) Perry Ellis, Kansas: Ellis has been the best player on Kansas this season, but he had a bit of a disappointing week in the Battle 4 Atlantis.

Others: Kyle Anderson, Ron Baker, Dylon Cormier, Aaron Craft, Tyler Haws, Alex Kirk, Rodney Hood, Roberto Nelson, Marcus Paige, Elfrid Payton, Elijah Pittman, Juwan Staten, Joseph Young

Louisville backcourt struggles in first scrimmage

Quentin Snider, Jerian Grant
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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
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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.