Report: NCAA officials visited Massachusetts in regards to Nerlens Noel

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According to a report from Pete Thamel of the New York Times, the NCAA sent two members of its enforcement staff to Everett High School (MA) this week to look into the people surrounding Nerlens Noel. Noel, who is currently at The Tilton School in New Hampshire, attended Everett for his freshman and sophomore years.

The officials met with Everett High principal Louis Baldi and Leo Papile, who runs the BABC summer team that Noel played on, as they attempted to determine the nature of Noel’s relationship with Chris Driscoll, a former assistant coach at Providence, and Errol Randolph:

Driscoll was barred this year from campus at the Tilton School, the New Hampshire boarding school where Noel has spent the past two years and is completing his final year of high school.

Tilton officials expressed concern earlier this year that Driscoll did not have Noel’s best interests at heart. Driscoll has denied the allegation, and he did not return a call seeking comment.

N.C.A.A. officials also planned to find out about Noel’s relationship with Errol Randolph, a former substitute teacher at Everett High School who is another of Noel’s advisers, according to the person briefed on the inquiry. Until recently, Randolph had a link on his LinkedIn page that directed people to the Web site of the sports agency run by the prominent basketball agent Andy Miller. The link to Miller’s ASM Sports Web site have since been removed.

There are also questions about unofficial visits that Noel paid for out of pocket to Kentucky and to Louisville. More background on Noel’s recruitment can be found here.

Big Blue Nation despises Pete Thamel, believing that he has an agenda against John Calipari and will stop at nothing to try and bring him down. (Check the comments here, it should get pretty entertaining.) But what Thamel is reporting here is neither a surprise nor that big of a deal.


Essentially, the news is that the No. 1 recruit in the country is being investigated by the NCAA. In this day and age, the NCAA would not be doing their job if they didn’t look into the recruitment and the amateurism of the No. 1 recruit in the country, especially in Noel’s case. There are red flags surrounding his days as a high schooler, and those red flags were written about in the New York Times. The fact of the matter is that every recruit at Noel’s level is going to have some unsavory people circling around them, looking for a way to make a couple dollars, and it’s the NCAA’s job to determine whether or not any rules were violated in the process.

All this report tells us is that the NCAA has begun looking into Noel.

It will be relevant if/when they find something punishable.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Michigan State playing zone? It’s possible

Tom Izzo
Associated Press
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Throughout Tom Izzo’s tenure at Michigan State the team’s half-court man-to-man defense has been a staple, and the Spartans have generally proven difficult to have a high rate of offensive success against. The reliance on that defense is why Izzo’s conversations earlier this summer about using some token full-court pressure due to the shortening of the shot clock caught some people off-guard.

According to the Detroit Free Press there’s another wrinkle the Spartans may use, and it’s likely that this wrinkle will show up more often than the full-court press. During Friday’s opening practice the Spartans worked on a 2-3 zone, and Izzo wants his assistants to make sure the team works on the defense consistently throughout the season.

That’s also why zone in general isn’t going to get heavy play at MSU, but having it as a tool could be beneficial — especially in games with touch fouls on the perimeter called in droves.

“I told (my assistant coaches): ‘You hold me accountable to working on it every day some’ … I have a tendency to drift off on that, and I don’t want to drift off on it,” Izzo said of the 2-3 zone. “But we will be, rest assured, a 90-some percent man-to-man team still and hopefully take some of those principles to zone.”

As noted in the story one of the risks in using pressure is allowing quality shots, which is why it’s unlikely that Michigan State will go to it. But even with Izzo vowing that his team will work on the zone, that doesn’t mean they’ll be playing it as often as Syracuse does.

Man-to-man has been Michigan State’s staple and it will continue to be. But it doesn’t hurt to look for other ways to keep opponents from getting the looks they want, especially if teams have five fewer seconds to find those shots.

Virginia used 3-on-3 to adjust to new shot clock

Malcolm Brogdon
Associated Press
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When the college basketball rules committee made the decision to trim the shot clock down to 30 second from 35, one reason for the switch was the desire to improve offensive production. With offensive numbers at their lowest point in years, proponents of the move see the shot clock change as a necessary move if scoring is to improve.

Whether or not that winds up being the case will be seen throughout the upcoming season, but teams are still having to make adjustments during the preseason.

Virginia, which has played at a snail’s pace (and with great success, mind you) in recent years, made some adjustments to their summer work in anticipation of playing with a 30-second shot clock. One adjustment was more games of 3-on-3 with a 15-second shot clock, which forced all involved to be more decisive in their offensive decision-making.

While the pack-line defense will always be a staple of Tony Bennett’s teams, the feeling in Charlottesville is that they’ve got the offensive firepower needed to both play faster and be more efficient offensively than they were in 2014-15 (29th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy). One of the players who will lead the way is senior guard Malcolm Brogdon, who led the team in scoring and was a first team All-ACC selection, and he discussed the team’s outlook with Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

And even though Anderson’s highlight-reel shot blocking was the thing that frequently fueled fast-breaks for U.Va. last season, Brogdon and [Anthony] Gill said they expect this year’s team to actually push the tempo even more.

“I think we’re going to be a team that gets out and runs more,” Brogdon said. “I think we’ll have three guards on the floor, most of the time, will be able to handle the ball as a point guard and get out in transition. I think we’ll play a lot faster.”

Brogdon and Gill are two of the team’s three returning starters with point guard London Perrantes being the other, and the Cavaliers also return most of their reserves from last year’s rotation. That experience will help them on both ends of the floor as they prepare for a run at a third straight ACC regular season title. And in theory it also allows them to extend themselves a bit more offensively than they did a season ago.