Gary Harris: ‘I’m definitely going to play against North Carolina’

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Michigan State sophomore guard Gary Harris injured his ankle in late August, though, that force him to miss any regular season games. That was until Friday during the top-ranked Spartans’ 98-65 win over Mount St. Mary’s

Tom Izzo sidelined his reigning Big Ten freshmen of the year for the entire weekend, not just the 33-point win, in hopes the rest will have his shooting guard back for Wednesday night’s Big Ten/ACC Challenge matchup against North Carolina. According to MLive.com, Izzo said there is a 99 percent chance Harris will be ready to go against the Tar Heels. On Monday, Harris took it a step further, per Gillian Van Stratt.

“Oh, I’m playing,” Harris said on Monday after practice. “I’m definitely going to play against North Carolina.

“I’ve gotten a lot better over these days off. Coach has held me out and I’m just giving my ankle some time to rest, extra rehab. So I mean, it’s getting better each and every day.”

Despite seeing a noticeable dip in his 3-point shooting this season, Harris leads the Spartans in scoring at 17.7 points a game to go along with averages of 4.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 30-plus minutes a contest.

Izzo is going to want his 6-foot-4 scorer in the lineup Wednesday night in East Lansing. Izzo is looking to take down Roy Williams, who is undefeated against Michigan State since taking over at North Carolina. Williams holds a 6-0 edge, which includes the 2009 national championship win. Williams and his Tar Heels will look to make it 7-0, especially after sandwiching an impressive win over then-No. 3 Louisville with losses to Belmont (at home) and at UAB.

Michigan State and North Carolina tip at 9 p.m. Wednesday.

Knee injury temporarily sidelines Memphis assistant

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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.