Elias Harris, Philip Jurick

Late Night Snacks: Happy New Year!

Leave a comment

A few notes from the last day of college basketball in 2012. It’s Late Night Snacks.

Game of the day/night

Gonzaga 69, Oklahoma State 68 – Kelly Olynyk scored all 21 of his points in the second half. Marcus Smart had a chance to tie with nine seconds left, but missed both free throws. Kevin Pangos score 23 in the win and the Bulldogs got their signature win of the young season.

Games of note

Cincinnati 70, Pittsburgh 64 – The Bearcats needed this win after the home loss to New Mexico. They got it thanks to Cashmere Wright’s 18 points and holding the Panthers to 0-for-10 from the three-point arc. Solid job by Mick Cronin’s bunch.

Minnesota 76, Michigan State 63 – Minnesota just keeps doing what they need too. Trevor Mbakwe is all the way back from the torn ACL with 11 points and 12 rebounds. Andre Hollins finished with 22 points and the Golden Gophers hit 56.6-percent of their shots. That’ll get you a good win at home.


Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga – This guy was headed for the list below this one in the first half, but then got himself 21 second half points and nine rebounds, including some key plays down the stretch, in the Zags win at Okie State.

Cody Zeller, Indiana – Again, Zeller doing Zeller things. 19 points and 10 rebounds in the tight win over Iowa.

Kinu Rochford, Farleigh-Dickinson – When a kid drops 32 points and 11 rebounds, it deserves applause (so long as it is against a Division I opponent). Rochford did it in a win over Longwood. Well done, young man.


Kyle Vinales, Central Connecticut State – One the top scorers in the nation couldn’t get it done against, admittedly, a tough draw in Syracuse. He averages around 21 points per game, but Vinales finished with 14 points on 5-of-18 shooting.

Jordan Hulls, Indiana – The Hoosiers got the win, but a player that averages 11.4 points per game was held scoreless on 0-for-10 shooting.

Stuffing the stat sheet

Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse – It’s almost not fair when I get a game on a night I’m on here, and it features MCW. 18 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds for the sophomore in a win over CCSU.

Fanbase that can take a breath

Gonzaga – The Bulldogs were fine coming into the game at Oklahoma State. But leaving Stillwater with a win was a whole lot better than a loss, which could’ve brought up the dreaded “are they for real?” question, being that their only other true marquee game this season was a loss at home to Illinois. Great win.

Fanbase that can take a seat

New Mexico – The Lobos could’ve followed a banner win at Cincinnati with a win at St. Louis. They could’ve furthered the theory that the Mountain West Conference was more than a two-team race (and in fairness, they still can). They could’ve showed the world that this team is for real. For tonight though, they didn’t. We’ll see what 2013 brings them.

It’s been a pretty solid start to the college basketball season. Now it’s time to turn the page to 2013 and see what conference play offers us. Unless you’re the fan of an SEC team, which you would gladly take playing non-conference teams (kidding!).

Happy New Year, folks.

Michigan State playing zone? It’s possible

Tom Izzo
Associated Press
Leave a comment

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
Leave a comment

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.