Mountain West Basketball Tournament - Quarterfinals Wyoming v UNLV

UNLV freshmen Daquan Cook and Demetris Morant will be redshirted

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With the amount of talent at Dave Rice’s disposal this season, there were questions as to who would either lose minutes or have to redshirt with an eye towards the future at UNLV.

Those decisions have been made apparently, as the Las Vegas Sun reported on Saturday that freshmen Daquan Cook and Demetris Morant will sit out the 2012-13 campaign.

While this leaves UNLV with nine scholarship players until Pittsburgh transfer Khem Birch becomes eligible at the end of the fall semester, both Cook and Morant were in positions where they’ll see a lot more playing time in the future than they would have this season.

Morant, with the logjam in the paint that includes veterans (Carlos Lopez-Sosa, Mike Moser, Quintrell Thomas) and newcomers (Birch, Anthony Bennett and combo Savon Goodman), was a player pegged by many to be a candidate to sit out this season so that isn’t much of a surprise.

But Cook’s decision could be seen as such, given the fact that the Runnin’ Rebels are lacking when it comes to depth at the point. Anthony Marshall will run the show there, and it was possible that Cook would have been able to help UNLV in regards to getting their senior an occasional breather.

“That was a hard decision to make because Daquan has improved as much as anyone since he got here,” Rice said. “He would play minutes for us this year, but he’ll play more minutes as a fifth-year senior than a freshman. … He needs to get older and stronger; everything else will come.”

Redshirt situations can change, but it will likely take a significant injury to a perimeter player for Cook play this season.

With the Baltimore native being just 17 years old, the extra year to practice and mature physically will be a valuable one. However as a result of the move UNLV fans may have to watch a few games with their fingers crossed, hoping that none of the team’s guards are lost for an extended length of time due to injury.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej. 

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.