The Morning Mix

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– Is Oklahoma State the best team in the Big-XII? Probably not, but Kansas coach Bill Self thinks the Cowboys are the best team on paper. Florida’s Billy Donovan and Gonzaga’s Mark Few were gushing about OK-State incoming freshman Marcus Smart

– Recruiting rankings don’t always determine who ends up having the most successful career. Cracked Sidewalks explains what “value add” can determine and provides some interesting evidence

– Eric Crawford details the five steps needed towards reinventing the Big East Conference

– More fallout from the North Carolina academic scandal: athletic advisers steered players towards “no-show” classes

– Recruiting icon Sonny Vaccaro returned to the courts this weekend in order to shoot a 30 for 30 documentary

– Divorced-Syracuse fan wants visitation rights for his kids if/when the Orange make the National Championship game

The FriarBlog provides an excellent take on the ten reasons why the NCAA should clear highly touted freshman Ricardo Ledo

– The 5-month old son of Northwest Minnesota State head coach Brad Bigler was killed last night in a drunk driving accident. Bigler’s wife and mother-in-law were also injured in the accident

– When coaches give inspirational speeches to kids at camp, they talk about guys like Corey Spence, a JuCo player who spent 30 hours on a Greyhound bus in order to make an event, then performs well enough to make the All-Star game

– Reports surfaced a few months back indicating that the 2012 London games would be the last for Mike Krzyzewski as head coach of Team USA. Now it looks like he will stay heavily involved in the program regardless of his decision to serve as the head coach

– The Olympic games could provide Mike D’Antoni with an opportunity to land a job in college hoops

– Louisville’s Kevin Ware is showing up on all sorts of “Breakout players to watch” lists, and with good reason. He scored just 20 points last year, but with some off-season help from Ray Allen, Ware is ready for a sensational sophomore campaign

Another good-read on Kansas sophomore Ben McLemore, who has been wowing coaches during summer league games

– Kansas center Jeff Withey had a huge breakout season in 2011-2012. In 2012-2013 he’s looking to have an impact season

– With the departure of Terell Stoglin, Maryland is going to rely heavily on the legs of Pe’Shon Howard, who is “ahead of schedule” with his recovery from an ACL tear

– It’s not often that schools like Pepperdine score top-100 recruits. So it was quite a recruiting coup when the Wave landed highly regarded guard Brandon Randolph

– Croatian guard Mislav  Brzoja, who had a sensational performance against the American squad at the FIBA U-19 World Championship is being rumored as heading to Villanova

– If Wake Forest is going to get out of their current rut, freshman guard Codi Miller-McIntyre is going to have to carry some of the load

– The final four pairing for the best four teams in VCU history

Former-Wichita State big-man Garrett Stutz got drafted No.1o in the 2012 Korean Basketball League draft

– Kentucky’s Kyle Wiltjer and Willie Cauley-Stein, more affectionately known as “The Goonies”, dropped another video. This one is significantly better that their first one

Top-5 contender for Summer League Dunk of the Year

Troy Machir is the managing editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @TroyMachir.

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.