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.
Arizona assistant coach and former NBA veteran point guard Damon Stoudamire is leaving the Wildcats to take the same position at Memphis. The news was announced in a release from Arizona on Monday.
Stoudamire played in the NBA for 13 seasons and spent the last two seasons on the Arizona bench, his alma mater, under Miller. Before that, Stoudamire spent two seasons with the Tigers as an assistant coach under Josh Pastner, so he’s already familiar with this position.
The move allows Stoudamire to be closer to his family.
“It is with mixed emotions that I’ll be returning to the University of Memphis to be Josh Pastner’s lead assistant,” Stoudamire said in the release. “It is bittersweet, as Arizona has and always will have a special place in my heart. Sean Miller, the rest of the staff and the great group of players mean a great deal to me.
“I have a unique opportunity to return to Memphis with the added knowledge of what I need to do to help them achieve the success we had at Arizona over the past two years. I’m also able to be closer to my two sons, who are near and dear to my heart.”
With his extensive NBA background and stops at two successful programs, Stoudamire should be able to generate some recruiting interest for the Tigers.
Normally by this point in the offseason the vacant head coaching positions in college basketball are filled. However currently there are three positions that have yet to be filled: Florida A&M, Mississippi Valley State and Oregon State. Of those three jobs the Oregon State position has received the most attention, which is obvious when considering the Beavers being a member of the Pac-12.
So who’s in line to replace Craig Robinson? That’s still up in the air, although it has been reported by multiple outlets that one coach being considered is current Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins. Hopkins is a native of southern California, a fertile recruiting ground that’s an important area for many of the programs in the Pac-12. However there are other names that have been discussed, with Arizona assistant Damon Stoudamire being one.
John Canzano of The Oregonian gave odds on five possibilities, with Hopkins, Stoudamire and Montana head coach Wayne Tinkle all receiving 5-to-1 odds. And here are his thoughts on Hopkins:
My thought: Feels like a longshot to leave Syracuse, but if you can get him, you get him. His connection to California is interesting. First heard his name in this race a week ago, but dismissed it as rumor. He’s real now.
Also mentioned in the article are two former Pac-12 assistants, Eric Musselman (who was a member of Herb Sendek’s staff at Arizona State this past season) and Travis DeCuire (was Mike Montgomery’s associate head coach at Cal).
According to Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune, Hopkins, DeCuire and Tinkle are the finalists for the position.
Whoever lands the job at Oregon State will have a tough task ahead of them, considering the program’s lack of success since the days when Gary Payton was running the point in Corvallis. And the timeline of this ongoing process won’t help matters from a recruiting standpoint either, as the new head coach will have missed out on the spring’s lone open evaluation period.
Will Oregon State be able to land the head coach capable of raising the program’s profile within the Pac-12? The hope amongst the fan base is that athletic director Bob De Carolis will be able to just that.