Alex Abreu

Akron suspends starting point guard Alex Abreu following arrest on drug charge

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With a 24-5 record (14-1 MAC) on the season the Akron Zips are one of the mid-major programs that many believe capable of not only getting to the NCAA tournament but also winning once in the field of 68.

Those prospects likely change depending on the status of junior point guard Alex Abreu, who was suspended indefinitely on Thursday following an arrest on charges of marijuana trafficking.

The Akron athletic department released the following statement regarding Abreu’s suspension:

Junior point guard Alex Abreu has been suspended from The University of Akron men’s basketball team indefinitely pending the outcome of a police investigation.

The University is aware of the situation and is currently gathering more information. Inquiries regarding the investigation should be directed to the Akron Police Department.

How long will Abreu be out? Will he return at all this season? Those are questions that won’t be answered until the legal system runs its course in all likelihood, but what isn’t in doubt is how important Abreu is to the Akron attack.

Abreu averages 10.3 points and 6.0 assists per game for Akron, which won 19 straight games before losing 81-67 at Buffalo last Saturday. In addition to his leadership at the point Abreu is also Akron’s best three-point shooter, hitting 39.4% of his shots from beyond the arc.

The question for the Zips now is who runs the show for Keith Dambrot’s team in Abreu’s absence. Freshman Carmelo Betancourt has been Abreu’s backup so he likely becomes the starter, and sophomore Deji Ibitayo will see an increase in minutes as well.

With front court players such as Zeke Marshall and Demetrius Treadwell, Akron’s got more than enough depth to give opponents fits in the NCAA tournament should they qualify but they don’t enjoy that luxury at the point.

Abreu isn’t on NBA Draft boards like Marshall, but there’s no overstating his importance to Akron. Without him the other teams in the Mid-American Conference, most notably Ohio, may sense an opening heading into next week’s conference tournament.

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.