The Morning Mix

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Wednesday delivered yet another entertaining night of hoops. Kansas and Oklahoma State went into double overtime and featured a candidate for .GIF of the year. Minnesota continues to slide closer and closer to the bubble, and Northeastern and James Madison went down to the wire in a pivotal CAA battle.

Let’s hit the links.

Thursday’s Top games:
7:00 p.m. – Cincinnati @ Connecticut
7:00 p.m. – La Salle @ Temple
7:00 p.m. – Drexel @ Delaware (NBC Sports Network)
8:00 p.m. – South Alabama @ Middle Tennessee
9:00 p.m. – No. 6 Duke @ Virginia Tech
9:00 p.m. – California @ No. 23 Oregon
11:00 p.m. – BYU @ Saint Mary’s

Read of the Day:
It’s Thursday, which means Luke Winn’s Power Rankings are hot off the presses. As is the case every week, this is must-read stuff. (Sports Illustrated)

Hoops Housekeeping:
– Vanderbilt recruit Darius Thompson has decommited from the school and will re-open his recruitment. (The Tennessean)

– Jake Toolson, the nephew of former Cougar sharpshooter and NBA GM Danny Ainge, has committed to BYU. (Salt Lake Tribune)

– Former-Texas standout Gary Johnson suffered a skull fracture yesterday playing in Europe and was placed in a medically induced coma. He is expected to make a full recovery. (CSN Houston)

Observations & Insight:
– This is just crazy. Temple has played in five consecutive games decided by one point. They play La Salle tonight in a pivotal A-10 match-up. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Remember when Ole Miss was the talk of the town? That was roughly seven games ago. They’ve lost five games since then. A tourney bid is looking less and less likely for Marshall Henderson & company. (The Dagger)

– Earlier this week John Feinstein penned an article for the Washington Post in which he stated that Siena may be a possible candidate to join the Catholic-7. While the Saints have had excellent success for a MAAC program, does the school have the financial support to run a high-major basketball program? (Fours Guys in Blazers)

– George Mason had a planned proposal to upgrade it’s basketball practice facillities. Many mid-majors across the country are upgrading their facillities, including two of George Mason’s local rivals, Old Dominion and VCU. But head coach Paul Hewitt advised against the project, and the proposal was subsequently scrapped. (GMU Hoops)

– Georgetown freshman D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera scored a career-high 22 points off the bench in the Hoya’s 90-66 win over DePaul. (Washington Times)

– Baylor lost at home to Iowa State last night, ending any shot the Bears had at making the NCAA tournament. (Our Daily Bears)

– Xavier’s Travis Taylor had his wisdom teeth removed on Monday, had a career night against Rhode Island on Wednesday. (

– In case you missed it, North Carolina has gone to a four guard lineup and surprisingly enough, it seems to be working. (Rush The Court)

– Rumors swirled yesterday regarding expansionocalypse and the recruitment of UNC and UVA to the Big-Ten. Both schools are staying put in the ACC. (Busting Brackets)

Odds & Ends
– Former-Duke Blue Devil Brian Zoubek is closing his pastry shop in Haddonfield, NJ. Yes, that’s right, the former Duke big-man owned and operated a pastry shop. There is a joke or two to be made here. (The Blue Zone)

– Well this is certainly bizarre: North Dakota has suspended their men’s basketball play-by-play announcer for two games because he used the term “choke job” during the broadcast of their weekend overtime loss to Northern Arizona. (ESPN)

– This too is bizarre: Idaho fan gets prosthetic leg designed in honor of Vandals. (Lost Letterman)

– Yeah, I can’t imagine Missouri administrators are too happy with Truman the Tiger. (The Big Lead)

Picture of the Day:
Phil Forte is a freshman sharpshooter at Oklahoma State. Best.Sign.Ever. (The Big Lead)


Video of the Day:
I think Marcus Smart’s ankles are still at the top of the key.

Video of the Day:
Bill Self is a dancing fool. (The Mock Session)

Dunk of the Day:
The Ben McLemore Show, ladies and gentlenman.

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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.