LSU announced on Tuesday the addition of former NBA head coach Eric Musselman to their coaching staff.
Musselman, who spent the past couple of seasons as an assistant with Arizona State, was the head coach of the Golden State Warriors from 2002-2004 and coached Sacramento during the 2006-2007 season. He finished second in Coach of the Yeaar voting to Greg Popovich during his first season with Golden State.
“We are excited about the addition of coach Eric Musselman,” said LSU head coach Johnny Jones. “He brings a wealth of NBA and college experience that will be beneficial as we strive to continue to take LSU Basketball to new heights. He will be involved in all aspects of our program.”
Musselman is a basketball lifer whose father, Bill, was also an NBA head coach. He’s not a guy that’s being brought into the program because of his ability to recruit. LSU was one of the more talented teams in the SEC last season, but they struggled with their execution and discipline a season ago. Musselman is the kind of x’s-and-o’s basketball mind that can address that issue.
“I really am excited to join the LSU family, a place that has such a storied athletic program, and help Coach Jones and the staff continue to make strides,” said Musselman in the release. “It will be challenging to learn about another great conference as the SEC. Anytime you can join a program that has a Final Four appearance in the past decade and 20 NCAA Tournaments overall, you know great things can happen again. In talking with Coach Jones, I am excited to get to work and help make it happen.”
LSU returns two potential NBA Draft picks in Jarrell Martin and Jordan Mickey, and with Musselman in the mix as well, a trip to the NCAA tournament should be the expectation.
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.
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.