The inclement weather that made Sunday’s east coast NFL games so entertaining has been wreaking havoc with the travel schedules of a number of college hoops teams.
Over the weekend, a handful of games were cancelled or postponed. Today, word came down that Fairfield would be postponing their trip to Belmont because the Stags are unable to get out of Connecticut.
But the most notable weather-related travel issue is that of Boise State. The Broncos are in Lexington right now where they will face off with Kentucky tonight at Rupp Arena. Boise State is the nation’s highest-scoring team, a group loaded with perimeter players that are more accurate shooting a basketball than Mark Wahlberg was with a sniper rifle in ‘Shooter’.
Hopefully, that long-distance accuracy won’t be ruined by the fact that the Broncos were forced to take a bus from Chicago to Kentucky thanks to the cancellation of a connecting flight. They were supposed to land in Lexington at 3:30 p.m. local time on Monday, according to the Idaho Statesmen. Instead they took a seven-hour bus ride, arriving at midnight. That forced them to miss Monday’s practice and turned what should have been a long travel day into nearly 18 hours in transit.
That’s a long time for a bunch of tall athletes to spend scrunched into seats on a plane or a bus.
“We’re not going to use it as an excuse,” Boise State coach Leon Rice told the paper. “The only thing that makes it difficult is the team we’re playing Tuesday. Our guys are pretty resilient, so I think they’ll handle it well.”
“They’ve handled it well, and handled it well in the past. My first year (in 2011), we got caught on Donner Pass on our way to Nevada. We had to eat one of the freshmen.”
The good news, besides the fact that all the freshmen actually survived that trip? Boise State beat Nevada.
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 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.