The Morning Mix

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Anybody else a huge fan of not having to work on Mondays? I could really get comfortable with that.

Glad we’re all in agreement.

Let’s hit the links.

– In case you missed it, the NCAA is now investigating UCLA freshman Tony Parker and Kyle Anderson. The third member of the trio, Shabazz Muhammad is already under NCAA investigation. It appears that the most recent investigation focuses heavily on Anderson, and that Parker, a 6-9 forward from Georgia, has been cleared to play. Here is the statement issued by UCLA. You really ought to read Bruins Nation on a daily basis for all things UCLA

– But UCLA’s cross-town rivals USC would not let the Bruins get the upper-hand this weekend. According to The L.A Times, former-Trojan forward Davon Jefferson received $3,700 in illegal benefits during his one season at USC. Don’t worry, there’s more: Maurice Jones, the Trojan’s leading scorer from a year ago, must sit out the entire upcoming season because of academic issues

– But never to be outdone, Not by UCLA, not by USC, not by nobody, Texas Tech head coach Billy Clyde Gillispie had himself quite the weekend. On Friday it was reported that several Red Raiders players met with the school’s AD about alleged mistreatment from the head coach. No less than 24 hours later, it was reported that Gillispie had been admitted to a nearby hospital for undisclosed medical reasons. It turned out to be high blood pressure. I was under the impression that  BCG’s blood pressure was typically at an obscenely high level

– The fourth kinda-big news item of the extended weekend  has to do with dynamic ex-Xavier guard Dez Wells You should all know his story by know, so I’d rather type “You should all know his story by know” instead of explaining it to you.  A decision will be made sometime in the next two days, Maryland looks to be the favorite

– This is kinda interesting. San Diego State was being tracked by the FBI throughout the 2010-2011 season. As Matt Norlander points out, this is SDSU, and not San Diego, the school that was busted for fixing games in 2010

– The Preseason N.I.T. is still looking for one more participant. Anybody interested? Didn’t think so

– If there’s one reason why we all love the Summit League (Other than the outrageous mascots), it’s the acronyms: IUPUI, IPFW, UMKC, SDSU and NDSU. We cannot sit idly by and let them take this away from us

UNC-Greensboro head coach Wes Miller is making all of us mid-to-late 20 year-olds look really really bad

– Rob Dauster, who has the most outdated head-shot this side of Jeff Borzello, provides a good-read on how Frank Haith and the new-look Missouri Tigers hope to replicate last season’s success

– Andy Glockner, whose head-shot is not as outdated as Rob’s but possibly more creepy, drops some preseason knowledge about the SEC

– While the common fan might not see any significance in a November 9th match-up between North Texas and Creighton, the true hoop-heads (and NBA scouts) are salivating in anticipation

– St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin has decided to hire former-UCLA guard Darrick Martin as the new Assistant Coach for the Red Storm. Martin replacing Mike Dunlap, who left to take over the head coaching position for the Charlotte Bobcats

– Arizona State has replaced its two recently departed assistants with former NBA coaches Eric Musselman and Larry Greer

– The guys inside the eyeball at CBS update us on some of the preseason road trips: CharlotteIndiana State and Florida Gulf Coast in The Bahamas, South Alabama in Canada, Purdue in Italy

– despite losing talented head coach Dan Hurley to Rhode Island, Wagner landed themselves a huge commitment over the weekend in the form of the Michigan’s 2011 “Mr. Basketball” and former Michigan State Spartan Dwaun Anderson

– Preseason conditioning is the worst. But the guys at Hawaii seem to have gotten it right

– If legendary-Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp were with us today, he would have celebrated his 111th birthday this past weekend

– Former-Syracuse star Dion Waiters showed up to “Taco Night” at a fan’s house. Best.TacoTuesday.Ever.

– Parsing The WAC provides a quick-list of the top ten players in the conference. I’m voting Preston Medlin in ’12(and ’13)

– Your un-hoops related news of the day: Bernie “does the Bernie” at an Oakland A’s game. My life is complete

Remember, if you find an article that is worthy of being in The Morning Mix, be sure to use the #ReadoftheDay hashtag on Twitter. 

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.