This time last year, Texas head coach Rick Barnes was considered to be on the hot seat. His Longhorns were coming off a 16-18 (7-11 Big 12) campaign. There wasn’t much optimism heading into the 2013-2014 season either, as Texas lost its four top scorers to transfers or the pros.
However, Barnes orchestrated an impressive turnaround with a 24-win season, finishing fourth in the conference standings and returning to the NCAA tournament. In April, Barnes received a verbal commitment from 6-foot-11 center Myles Turner, keeping the top 10 talent in-state, something Barnes and staff had difficulty doing so in previous years. Turner joins the cast of key returners, as Texas should be the favorites with Kansas in the Big 12.
According to Brian Davis of the Austin American-Statesman, Barnes could be going from hot seat rumors to a contract extension in less than a year. Davis reported on Friday that the University of Texas System Board of Regents released a meeting agenda on Friday. One of the topics for next week’s meetings will be Barnes’ contract status. His current deal runs through 2017. He has been with the university since 1998.
Barnes has won 382 games in his tenure with the Longhorns, though, they haven’t made it past the first weekend of the NCAA tournament since 2006. That includes first round exits — 2010 and 2012 — during that span.
College Basketball Talk listed Texas as a top 10 team back in April.
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.