The Secondary Break: Thursday’s Links

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Karvel Anderson finds a home (ESPN)
Robert Morris senior guard Karvel Anderson’s path to college was anything but smooth. With his mother being incarcerated, life eventually dealt Anderson the hand of being homeless as a teenager. But he refused to give up, working hard to eventually realize his dream of becoming a Division I basketball player. And on Monday he was named Northeast Conference Player of the Year.

Which college basketball programs made a mistake going to Division I? (Land Grant Holy Land)
The number of Division I programs this season is up to 351, with a few provisional programs going through the transition process to the game’s highest level. And with that many teams it’s natural to wonder if any have made the mistake of moving up. This story looks at all aspects of the moves being made to Division I and even picks out a few winners and losers.

Chris Perez: Tenacious player is a fan favorite (Albuquerque Journal)
New Mexico honored its senior class on Wednesday night following the Lobos’ 80-52 win over Air Force, and while Cameron Bairstow and Kendall Williams receive plenty of attention there’s a third player who was honored. Walk-on Chris Perez has been a part of the program for four years, and he became a fan favorite of many of the UNM faithful during his time in Albuquerque.

DePaul senior Brandon Young has shown leadership in tough times (Chicago Sun-Times)
It’s no secret that the DePaul Blue Demons have struggled mightily in recent years, with the downturn occurring within a couple years of their move into the Big East in the mid-2000s. One player who’s been present for the last four seasons in guard Brandon Young, who has worked to remain positive despite the lack of success.

Zach LaVine shaking off slump just in time for homecoming trip (Los Angeles Times)
UCLA freshman guard Zach LaVine found himself mired in a shooting slump prior to last week’s games against the Oregon schools. At one point an explosive scorer off the bench for the Bruins, LaVine was not producing at that level. Luckily for he and the Bruins the freshman turned things around last week, just in time for the team’s trip to his native Washington for games against Washington and Washington State this week.

Coaching is a path Virginia’s Tony Bennett once resisted and now embraces (Yahoo Sports)
After a professional career spent in the NBA, Australia and New Zealand, Tony Bennett needed to figure out what his next step would be. One profession he had no desire of entering: coaching, as he’d seen the impact of the game on his father. But an experience coaching overseas lit the fire, leading Bennett on a career path that would ultimately wind up in Charlottesville.

Andrew Wiggins experiences mixed emotions in home finale (Lawrence Journal-World)
It was “Senior Night” in Lawrence on Wednesday, with No. 8 Kansas closing the home portion of its season with a win over Texas Tech. But there was also the prospect of it being the final home game for Andrew Wiggins, who had mixed emotions regarding the experience and lamented that the season went by too fast.

Keith Appling, Adreian Payne don’t want to break Final Four streak (Detroit Free-Press)
Michigan State’s hit a rough stretch of late, with health and rust issues being two of the contributing factors. On Thursday night their seniors will be honored when the Spartans host Iowa, and Keith Appling and Adreian Payne are hungry for their first Final Four appearance. On the line is an impressive streak, with every senior class under Tom Izzo having reached at least one Final Four.

Louisville backcourt struggles in first scrimmage

Quentin Snider, Jerian Grant
Associated Press
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While a few teams did manage to hold special events for the official start of practice this weekend, most simply went about their business with drills and conditioning. One team that was the exception to all of this was Louisville, which held the first of its two intersquad scrimmages on Saturday. The Cardinals had a head start of sorts on the season, as they played six exhibition games in Puerto Rico this summer.

One hope heading into Saturday’s scrimmage was that guards Trey Lewis and Quentin Snider would have better chemistry than they did in Puerto Rico. But according to Jeff Greer of the Louisville Courier-Journal, that remains a work in progress for the Cleveland State transfer (Lewis) and rising sophomore (Snider).

They struggled in Puerto Rico, and they struggled again in Saturday’s Red-White scrimmage, the first public intrasquad practice since August. They played one half of the game together, paired with the presumed starting lineup with Mangok Mathiang out with an eye injury, a group that also included Damion Lee, Jaylen Johnson and Chinanu Onuaku.

That team lost the first half by 13 points to a younger group of Louisville players, and Lewis and Snider combined for eight points on 3-of-12 shooting, five turnovers, five steals, four assists and three rebounds.

“I thought (Snider) and (Lewis) did not play well together,” U of L coach Rick Pitino said. “They’ve got to get used to that. Neither guy made other guys better. That’s what they need to learn to do.”

As Greer also noted in his story the Cardinals have in recent years employed backcourt tandems in which both guards are capable of making plays for themselves and others. On the 2013 national champion team Peyton Siva and Russ Smith led the way, with Smith being joined by Terry Rozier or Chris Jones the following season and Rozier/Jones being the grouping last season before the latter was dismissed from the team.

Once Jones was dismissed Snider saw more time on the court, and his development was one of the keys for a Louisville team that fell one win short of the Final Four. Louisville needs him to take another step forward heading into the 2015-16 season, because even with Lewis’ experience at the Division I level Snider has more experience playing in Pitino’s system.

But while Saturday’s scrimmage didn’t go as well as anyone involved hoped, there’s still plenty of time for Louisville to work out the kinks before they open the season November 13 against Samford.

Knee injury 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.