After proving to be one of the MAAC’s most prolific scorers as a junior in 2011-12, Manhattan guard George Beamon didn’t get the opportunity to build on that success in 2012-13. Limited to just four games due to a severe ankle injury, Beamon received a medical redshirt and with it the opportunity to go out on “his terms.” And through 14 games Beamon picked up right where he left off in 2011-12, scoring 20.1 points per game for a team pegged by many as the favorite to win the MAAC.
But on Thursday night Beamon’s run of good health came to an end, as he was forced to leave the Jaspers’ 81-76 loss at Quinnipiac early in the first half with a right shoulder injury. On Friday it was reported by Joshua Newman of the Asbury Park (N.J.) Press that Beamon suffered a sprained SC joint in the shoulder and could miss three to four weeks of game action.
Given Beamon’s production this is a big personnel loss for Steve Masiello’s Jaspers. But to jump to the conclusion that Manhattan’s chances of winning the MAAC are finished because of it would be a mistake.
While Beamon’s the primary scoring option there are other players capable of picking up the slack offensively. Michael Alvarado accounted for 23 points and ten rebounds on Thursday night, with Shane Richards (11 points) and Ashton Pankey (ten) also reaching double figures on a night that saw Rhamel Brown struggle offensively (seven points on 2-for-11 shooting). Those are some of the options at Masiello’s fingertips when it comes to accounting for the loss of Beamon, and keep in mind that the Jaspers went through an adjustment period of sorts during last season’s injury-riddled campaign.
Manhattan struggled mightily during non-conference play last season with a diminished roster, but they still managed to go 9-9 in MAAC play and reach the title game of the MAAC tournament. And given the number of players in this season’s rotation who were a part of that run, Manhattan has the pieces needed to make the necessary adjustments.
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.