Jerian Grant rebounds from a tough Wednesday and so does Notre Dame

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One of the big issues for Notre Dame in their 73-69 loss to North Dakota State on Wednesday night was the play of senior guard Jerian Grant. The team’s leading scorer and assist man, Grant accounted for nine points and five assists, failing to make a single field goal in 39 minutes of action. Neither he nor Eric Atkins were able to get untracked against the preseason favorites to win the Summit League, resulting in a third loss for the Fighting Irish this season without a significant resume-building victory to their credit.

“Grant couldn’t really get any angles to the bucket,” Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey said following the defeat. “He was getting us shots but we couldn’t make them. He was starting to kick to shooters like he usually does, but for him not to make a field goal is a big hole in our offense. He’s been on a tear, but not so good tonight.”

Grant had no such issues against Indiana on Saturday afternoon, scoring a team-high 23 points on 5-for-13 shooting (11-for-11 FT) and dishing out six assists in Notre Dame’s 79-72 victory. Grant’s field goal percentage may not have been great, but when Grant’s making good use of his ability to attack defenses good things tend to happen for Notre Dame as a whole. One of the beneficiaries on this day was senior big man Garrick Sherman, who accounted for 16 points and five rebounds, and at times on the block Indiana had no answer for him.

Through ten games this season Sherman’s been a much-improved player for Notre Dame, averaging 14.4 points (compared to 7.0 ppg last season) and 7.5 rebounds (3.4 rpg) per contest and shooting 52.5% from the field. With Grant, Eric Atkins (seven points vs. Indiana), Pat Connaughton (14 points, eight rebounds) and Demetrius Jackson (five points) Notre Dame once again has multiple players capable of scoring on the perimeter.

However for this offense to be at its best there has to be some semblance of balance and while he may not be in the class of a Luke Harangody or Jack Cooley, through 11 games Sherman has been the interior scoring threat that Notre Dame needs.

Will Sheehey led three Hoosiers in double figures with 22 points, and the bench contributions from Stanford Robinson (six points) and Austin Etherington (five points) could be positives down the line if the two reserves can build on those performances. But in the end they were unable to overcome a ten-point disparity at the foul line (Notre Dame attempted 14 more free throws), and Jerian Grant returning to form didn’t help matters either.

Notre Dame was more efficient offensively against the Hoosiers than they were against North Dakota State, and that doesn’t happen if Grant isn’t aggressive. He isn’t the only capable scorer in the rotation, but he’s the key if the Fighting Irish are to be a factor in the ACC.

Knee injury temporarily 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.

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.