Tommy Brenton

2013 America East Conference Tournament Preview

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Stony Brook has separated itself from the rest of the pack in the America East, but can they power through the conference tournament and grab the automatic bid? Check out the preview below:

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The Bracket

Where: Quarterfinals and Semifinals at SEFCU Arena, University at Albany | Championship game at higher seed

When: March 8-10, 16

Final: March 16, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN2)

Favorite: Stony Brook
Led by freshman Jameel Warney and do-it-all forward Tommy Brenton, the Seawolves are looking to finally break through and earn a spot in the NCAA tournament. Stony Brook has won the last three regular season titles, but has lost in the America East tournament and missed out on the NCAAs.

And if they lose? Vermont

Boston University would have been another team to keep an eye on, but the Terriers are barred from the tournament because they will be moving to the Patriot League for the start of the 2013-14 season. For that reason, Vermont and its defense effort are likely to win if Stony Brook falls.

Sleeper: Albany

Playing at home in the quartfinal and semifinal rounds could prove to be helpful for the Great Danes. They will be leaning heavily in the senior backcourt combo of Mike Black and Jacob Iati, who combine to average over 27 points per game.


– Tommy Brenton, Stony Brook: Brenton fills up the box score for the Seawolves with 8.9 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game. He is one of the versatile players at the mid-major level.

– Mark Nwakamma, Hartford: The native Texan is the conference’s leading scorer during conference play and the player at the center of Hartford’s offensive attack. He is averaging 14.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game

– Justin Edwards, Maine: The sophomore is averaging 16.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game. He is a volume shooter, but can score in bunches when he gets hot.

CBT Prediction: Warney and Brenton will be too much and the Seawolves will march through the tournament to earn an NCAA berth.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

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.