After going through a 13-19 season in 2013-14, the Detroit Titans will have to account for the loss of second-leading scorer and leading rebounder Evan Bruinsma (12.5 ppg, 7.7 rpg).
Leading scorer Juwan Howard Jr. (18.2, 5.5) will be back for his senior season, and the fact that the Titans are able to take an offseason trip this summer will help head coach Ray McCallum Sr. in in his quest to find other scoring options. Friday the program announced its plans for a trip to Vancouver in mid-August, with the team playing four games over the course of five days.
Detroit’s first opponent on the trip (to be played August 14) has yet to be named, but that contest will be followed by games against the University of British Columbia (August 15), the University of Fraser Valley (August 17) and Trinity Western University (August 18).
“This is a great opportunity for us to bring our team together in the summer to get in 10 practices to help build our identity,” McCallum said in the release. “I’ve been on a lot of these trips and after each one our team has really grown together and gotten better, it’s a great experience.”
The team, which leaves for Vancouver on August 13, will return to campus on August 21 after spending two games in Whistler, B.C. Detroit adds four newcomers to the program, including junior college transfer Sky McClelland. Arizona State transfer Brandan Kearney will have to sit out the 2014-15 campaign per NCAA transfer rules.
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.