The Morning Mix

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Non-conference rivalry week continues to roll on. Colorado got all they could handle from a resilient Colorado State team. Gonzaga traveled to Washington State and escaped with a win. Florida won the Sunshine State Showdown against Florida State in embarrassing fashion. We got a lot to get to today, so let;s get right to it.

Time to hit the links.


Thursday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – Arkansas-Little Rock @ No. 11 Cincinnati
7:30 p.m. – Vanderbilt @ Xavier
8:00 p.m. – No. 16 Creighton @ Nebraska
8:00 p.m. – Long Beach State @ No. 4 Syracuse
10:00 p.m. – UC-Santa Barbara @ No. 17 San Diego State


Picture of the Day:
This is what the history of the WAC looks like. I can’t keep up. (Mid-Major Madness)

Read of the Day:
Eric Prisbell’s story on Gabreille Ludwig, born Robert John Ludwig, is worth your time. Enough said. Read it. (USA Today)

Read of the Day:
Luke Winn’s weekly power rankings. That is all. Read it. (Sports Illustrated)

Read of the Day:
Mike DeCourcy details why Creighton assistant coach Steve Merrifield, who led Hampton to a 2001 NCAA tournament upset victory over, needs to be given a second chance. (Sporting News)


Top Stories:
Is Florida an “elite” team? The Gators throttled the Seminoles last night. in fact they’ve throttled every and all teams they’ve faced this season. But should the Gators be mentioned in the same breath as Duke, Indiana, and Louisville?

Chicago State is leaving the Great West, joining the WAC: Conference realignment has hit the lowest level of Division I college hoops, as Chicago State will hope to help revive the WAC by leaving the upstart Great West Conference.

Utah honors Majerus and crushes Boise State: On the night they honored their late head coach, the Utah Ute put on their best performance of the season, defeating a very hot Boise State team.

Inaugural episode of the CBT Podcast: College Basketball Talk has joined the podcasting fray. Listen to host Troy Machir discuss the latest in college hoops with CBT writer Rob Dauster.


Hoops Housekeeping
– Danny Berger’s health condition continues to improve since collapsing at a Utah State practice on Tuesday. (CBS Sports)

– Siena players visited two student sin the hospital who had been in injured in a car crash heading home from the Siena vs. Albany game from earlier in the week. (Albany Times-Union)

– Rutgers in filing a lawsuit against the Big East in order to avoid paying the conference’s exit fee. (New York Daily News)


Observations & Insight:
– Jason King’s Kings Court is quickly becoming one of my favorite weekly reads. He packs a bunch if interesting insight and analysis into each one. Plus, it’s in list form. Who doesn’t love that? (ESPN)

– We all expected the West Virginia vs. Marshall game to be a physical one. But I don’t think any of us could have predicted the final outcome, that’s to a handful of late ejections. (Deadspin)

– Matt Norlander suggests that the programs once coached by Rick Majerus should get together on an annual basis to honor the late great coach (Eye on College Basketball)

– Florida’s absolute drubbing of Florida State won’t help the Seminoles land super recruit Andrew Wiggins. Luckily for FSU, the co-eds came out in full force to convince Wiggins to return to Tallahassee. (The Dagger)

– Here is how John Calipari’s Kentucky teams have fared through the first eight games of the season. (Kentucky Sports Radio)

– The NBA Draft is months and months away. But if you were to ask the experts who the top choice for the No. 1 overall pick, you would get a lot of different answers. (CBS Sports)

– Raphielle Johnson’s Left Coast Layups post is a weekly must-read that will get you caught up to speed on every from the West Coast. (NBE Basketball Report)

– With ten days off in between games, UMass is hoping to stay focused during exam week. (Hoopville)

– Don’t look now, but the UIC Flames are 6-1 and are turning the corner under head coach Howard Moore thanks to a renewed focus. (ESPN Chicago)

– That is a very good question. What exactly have we learned about the ACC thus far? (College Chalktalk)

– Gary Parrish’s story about Memphis junior Geron Johnson is worth your time. (Eye on College Basketball)


Odds & Ends
–  A seat upgrade app that helps fans find empty seats in the lower bowl during games? Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. (Washington Post)

– With the news that Utaha State’s Danny Berger collapsed at practice on Tuesday, it should be noted that a player at Red Bank High School in New Jersey died on Monday after collapsing during a scrimmage. (New Jersey Star-Ledger)

– Club Trillion founder Mark Titus provides his top-12 NCAA power rankings (Grantland)


Dunk of the Day:
Kansas’ Ben McLemore and UNLV’s Anthony Bennett are stealing all the freshman dunk headlines, by High Point’s John Brown should not be left out of the discussion.

Devontae Harper throws down a #SCtop10 play for IUPUI

Do you like the new Morning Mix? Hate it? Have a suggestion or wanted something featured? Troy Machir will take all your praise, insults and inquiries via 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.