James Dickey

Houston head coach James Dickey steps down

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The University of Houston announced on Monday afternoon that head coach James Dickey is stepping down due to private family matters.

Dickey spent four seasons at Houston and owned a 64-62 record at the school while holding a career mark of 217-196. The Cougars only made one postseason trip during Dickey’s tenure as they advanced to the CBI quarterfinals last season.

“This has been a difficult decision to make. I continually preach to my players about being an everyday guy, and the balance of your personal and professional life is a major part of it. With that being said, I have a family matter that requires my time and energy, and I will regretfully step down from my current position at the University of Houston,” Dickey said in the release. “I am extremely appreciative of Mack Rhoades for the opportunity and for the value he brings professionally and personally. I cannot thank my coaching staff and our players enough for the experience and memorable moments over the past four years. The system of support set forth by our Athletic Department staff is world class, and I’m appreciative of every member of the Houston Athletics family. I would like to thank the Houston fans for their support through the years and greatly encourage them to continue their support of the program in the future.”

Houston Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics Mack Rhoades also commented on Dickey’s decision to step down.

“I am extremely grateful for Coach Dickey’s contributions to our basketball program and our Athletics Department, both on and off the court, and his decision to step down comes with great heartache for all involved,” Rhoades said. “Coach Dickey is not only a great person and coach but a great mentor for all of our student-athletes and entire staff. He made so many of us in our department better. No one has worked harder than Coach Dickey, and he leaves the Houston Men’s Basketball program in a much better place. He will be missed greatly by the entire Houston family, and we wish him and his family the very best.”

The Cougars finished 17-16 this season in the inaugural year in the American Athletic Conference. Houston defeated SMU in the quarterfinals of the AAC Conference Tournament before falling to eventual champion Louisville to end its season.

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.