St John's v Louisville

Rick Pitino, Jerry Tarkanian among 12 finalists for Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

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The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame released its 12 finalists for induction into the Hall of Fame on Friday morning, and three of college basketball’s greatest coaches are among the finalists.

Guy V. Lewis, Rick Pitino and Jerry Tarkanian are all finalists for the Hall of Fame, and in order to be inducted they’ll need to receive at least 18 of the 24 possible votes. Lewis led the University of Houston for nearly 30 years, winning 592 games and leading the Cougars to five Final Four appearances. This is the second time that Lewis has been a finalist for enshrinement, with the first coming back in 2003.

Pitino, currently in his 11th season at Louisville, is the only coach in Division I history to lead three schools to the Final Four. Pitino has won 649 games at Providence, Kentucky and Louisville, making six Final Four appearances.

And Tarkanian won 990 games as a head coach at the junior college and Division I levels, a career that includes four Final Four appearances and a national title at UNLV. Overall Tarkanian won 81% of his games as a head coach.

Joining the three coaches as men’s committee finalists are Maurice Cheeks, Tim Hardaway, Spencer Haywood, Tommy Heinsohn, Bernard King, Gary Payton and Mitch Richmond.

North Carolina head coach Sylvia Hatchell and South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley are the two women’s committee nominees, with Hatchell being nominated as a coach and Staley as a player. Hatchell won her 900th game as a head coach last Sunday, making her the third head coach in the history of women’s college basketball (Pat Summitt and Jody Conradt being the others) to do so.

As for Staley, she’s one of the greatest players in the history of the game. The Philadelphia native was a two-time national Player of the Year at the University of Virginia, and she won three Olympic gold medals (1996, 2000 and 2004) as well. Staley remains the NCAA’s all-time leader in steals with 454.

“We are proud to share an incredible group of finalists for the Class of 2013 – a distinct list of coaches and players who excelled at many levels of basketball,” Jerry Colangelo, Chairman of the hall’s Board of Governors, said in the release.

“It will be a difficult decision for the Honors Committee to select the final class members from this prestigious group of individuals, each of whom has given so much to the game.”

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.