Maurice Creek, Varun Ram

The Secondary Break: Thursday’s Links

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Forget freshmen, transfers are the new prized recruits in college basketball (Sports Illustrated)
While freshmen have received much of the attention to this point in the season, transfers have proven to be just as influential to some programs. Players such as Arizona’s T.J. McConnell, George Washington’s Maurice Creek and Iowa State’s DeAndre Kane have all played pivotal roles in the success of their new teams.

UCLA-Arizona has been west coast’s top college basketball rivalry (Long Beach Press-Telegram)
On Thursday night the top-ranked Wildcats and Bruins renew acquaintances at Pauley Pavilion, with Arizona looking to reverse its fortunes after losing to UCLA three times last season. And this series is one with a history of exciting match-ups, with this story including the ten best games in the series according to the author.

College basketball arena poll: All 12 individual ballots (Athlon Sports)
The folks over at Athlon Sports compiled a list of the top 10 arenas in college basketball with some help from 12 college basketball experts, including CBT’s own Rob Dauster. Not only did Athlon reveal the list, but it also revealed the ballots of each of the 12 voters.

JV: A year in the college basketball wilderness (Dime Magazine)
As discussed in yesterday’s Break, there aren’t a high number of junior varsity teams at the college level. But they still exist, and in this story the author gives a first-hand account of his experience playing JV basketball at a small college.

Titus’ Top 12 NCAA power rankings (Grantland)
Former Ohio State basketball player Mark Titus compiles his weekly power rankings, taking a look at some of the nation’s best teams. It’s an interesting read, especially the portion in which he declares Iowa State to be a team of destiny.

Duke’s Jabari Parker: “I’m human too” (Greensboro News & Record)
In some instances this season the nation’s best freshman have been built up to near legendary status, with every game being a referendum on their skill level and chances of long-term success. After Andrew Wiggins bore the brunt of that pressure early, Duke freshman Jabari Parker’s been the latest subject thanks to his recent struggles. He’ll be OK.

Mother, coach reveal former Auburn basketball player faked kidnapping to escape pressures (ABC News)
In one of the more bizarre stories heard regarding college basketball players dealing with the pressure that comes with playing a sport and having to succeed in school, former Auburn basketball player Sierra Sims faked her kidnapping as a college freshman back in 2008. What resulted was a 24-hour search for Sims, who turned to binge drinking before running away and saying that she was kidnapped when found.

Kansas plans $17.5 million apartment complex that would house basketball players (Kansas City Star)
The business of major college athletics is alive and well, with programs doing whatever possible to put everything their athletes need within arm’s reach. At Kansas there are plans for a new apartment complex that would house the men’s and women’s basketball teams, with completion of the project expected for the 2016-17 academic year.

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.