Boston College center Dennis Clifford to miss remainder of season


Entering the season with expectations of possibly making a move up the ACC standings, things haven’t gone as planned for Boston College. The combination of a rugged non-conference schedule and some porous defense resulted in Steve Donahue’s Eagles missing on multiple opportunities for quality wins, and at 1-3 in ACC play the Eagles find themselves in the lower portion of the conference standings.

One big reason for Boston College’s defensive struggles is the absence of center Dennis Clifford, who despite playing in 30 games was hampered by a knee issue and played in just two games this year due to a slow recovery from offseason knee surgery. The hope was that Clifford, who averaged 8.9 points and 4.7 rebounds per game as a freshman in 2011-12, would be able to return and give Boston College some needed size in the middle.

Unfortunately that didn’t happen, and four days after tweaking his ankle prior to the Eagles’ game against No. 2 Syracuse on Monday night Donahue announced that Clifford will miss the remainder of the season according to Tom Layman of the Boston Herald.

According to Ken Pomeroy’s numbers the Eagles are dead last in the ACC in adjusted defensive efficiency (297th nationally) by a wide margin, and that’s after ranking 11th (out of 12 teams) in the ACC in that category a season ago. Defense has been an issue during Donahue’s tenure from an efficiency standpoint, with Boston College ranking no better than tenth in the ACC (2010-11) in defensive efficiency in any of his three-plus seasons at the helm.

The hope for Clifford is that with rest he’ll be able to get back to full strength for the 2014-15 season, and according to Layman the school will apply for a medical redshirt.

New challenges for Tennessee’s Barnes after years in Texas

Rick Barnes
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Tennessee coach Rick Barnes’ new surroundings have the veteran coach adopting a slightly different approach in preseason practices.

Barnes has needed to do more teaching so far as he goes over the different drills that had become second nature to his players at Texas, where he had coached for the last 17 seasons. Tennessee started practice last week as the Volunteers adjust to their third coach in as many seasons.

“We’d been 17 years where we had certain core basic drills that we knew, the players knew (and) we just called them out,” Barnes said Tuesday. “Now we’re teaching them everything that we want to implement and put in. It’s fun.”

Tennessee wants Barnes to provide the stability that’s been missing from its program with all the coaching turnover. Barnes replaced Donnie Tyndall, who went 16-16 in his lone season at Tennessee before being fired in March as the NCAA investigated his two-year tenure at Southern Mississippi.

Senior guard Kevin Punter acknowledged the coaching change was rough and that he thought about leaving, but Barnes’ arrival made him stay put.

“I’ve been watching Coach when he was coaching KD (Kevin Durant) and all those pros he got,” Punter said. “For him to be here, I already knew his background, and all I probably needed was just to talk to him and that pretty much sealed the deal. I already knew what he does for a lot of his players.”

Barnes went 402-180 at Texas and reached the NCAA Tournament in 16 of his 17 years before getting fired in March. His teams have earned NCAA bids 19 of the last 20 seasons overall.

“We’re not going to shy away from saying what we want,” Barnes said. “We want to be part of that tournament and have a chance like anybody else to play for the whole thing.”

Barnes could have a tough time getting back to the tournament this year.

Tennessee must replace all-SEC guard Josh Richardson, who led the Vols in points, assists and steals as a senior last season. Freshman Lamonte Turner has been ruled ineligible by the NCAA for the 2015-16 season, leaving Tennessee without any pure point guards as it gets ready for its Nov. 13 opener with UNC Asheville.

Barnes said Punter and senior Armani Moore would get the initial opportunities to play point guard. Punter’s a natural shooting guard. Moore is listed as a forward but can play a variety of positions.

Another challenge for Barnes involves getting accustomed to his new players and figuring out how to get the best from each of them.

“What’s their starter button?” Barnes asked. “You can’t coach them all the same. You can demand the same from all of them, but you can’t coach them all the same. Some guys can take whatever. Some other guys are a little more sensitive. It’s important for our coaching staff that we do know how to handle each one of them.”

Florida Gulf Coast’s Demetris Morant out 3-4 months

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Florida Gulf Coast redshirt junior forward Demetris Morant is expected to miss the next 3-4 months after undergoing surgery last week to repair a stress fracture in his right shin, the school announced on Tuesday.

The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 4.5 points, 4.4 blocks and 1.3 blocks per game in 33 appearances (18 starts) for the Eagles during the 2014-15 season.

“This is obviously an unfortunate setback for Demetris, but it was a procedure that needed to be done,” Florida Gulf Coast head coach Dooley said in a statement. “We decided it would be best to have it completed now to hopefully get him back for A-Sun play. It’s an opportunity now for other guys to step up in his absence, and I have confidence they’ll get the job done.”

The Eagles have the top frontline in the Atlantic Sun, one that returns Marc-Eddy Norelia and Filip Cvjeticanin, a 3-point shooter who missed all of last season recovering from back surgery. VCU transfer Antravious Simmons becomes eligible in the second semester.

Florida Gulf Coast begins the 2015-16 season on Nov. 14 against Ohio.