Baylor Bears v Texas Longhorns

Bounceback season lands formerly maligned Big 12 coach an extension

Leave a comment

After leading the Texas Longhorns to a 24-win season and a return to the NCAA tournament, head coach Rick Barnes has been rewarded with a contract extension through 2019 according to the San Antonio Express-News. The extension, which simply tacks on four years to Barnes’ current deal, was approved by the school’s board of regents on Thursday.

With there being no raise other than what was already written into Barnes’ contract (he stands to make $2.55 million this season), this may not be seen as a big deal. But the additional years are a sign of stability that Barnes and his staff can point to while on the recruiting trail. And after entering the 2013-14 season amidst skepticism, Barnes’ Longhorns look poised to put together an excellent season in 2014-15.

RELATED: What a difference a year makes at Texas

With their entire rotation from last season back and the addition of five-star center Myles Turner, some consider Texas to be the biggest threat to Kansas’ current run of earning at least a share of the last ten Big 12 regular season titles. But those two programs will have plenty of competition this season, with reigning conference tournament champion Iowa State, Baylor, Oklahoma and Kansas State among the teams who also harbor thoughts of winning the Big 12.

Seven of the league’s ten teams reached the NCAA tournament last season, with West Virginia landing in the Postseason NIT. Texas will not only look to make a return trip to the NCAA tournament but also reach the Final Four, something the program last did in 2003.

Louisville backcourt struggles in first scrimmage

Quentin Snider, Jerian Grant
Associated Press
Leave a comment

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
Leave a comment

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.