Nearly three months after leading his program to a MAC tournament title and a spot in the 2014 NCAA tournament field, Western Michigan head coach Steve Hawkins has been rewarded with a new six-year contract. The news was announced by the school Thursday morning, and the new deal bumps Hawkins’ annual base salary up to $225,000.
“I am proud of the things we have accomplished here at the University, but there is still work to do as we build for the future,” Hawkins said in the school release. “This new contract will allow me and the rest of my staff to continue to diligently work for the future of the program both on the court and in the community during an important time.”
WMU’s NCAA tournament appearance this spring was the program’s second under Hawkins, and during his tenure in Kalamazoo the Broncos have won nearly 57 percent of their games. Last season WMU finished with a record of 23-10, winning 14 of their 18 regular season MAC contests.
Unfortunately for Western Michigan they’ll have to account for the loss of their top two scorers from last season’s team, with guard David Brown (19.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg) and center Shayne Whittington (16.1, 8.9, 1.5 bpg) out of eligibility. However forward Connar Tava, who posted averages of 11.8 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game in 2013-14, will be back for his junior season.
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.