Duke v Louisville

Russ Smith: perfect example of why NCAA’s early entry deadline sucks


On Monday night, Russ Smith won a national title.

He didn’t play his best game — in fact, he played one of his worst — but thanks to Peyton Siva and Luke Hancock, Smith got a ring.

By the time that Smith had finished meeting with the media and celebrating with his team, it was Tuesday, which meant that, according to the NCAA’s rules, he had all of a week to make the biggest decision of his life: whether or not he would enter his name into the NBA Draft.

Now, first things first: the NCAA’s deadline — which always coincides with the start of the spring signing period — means absolutely nothing. It’s a worthless deadline. The NBA’s deadline for entering the draft in April 28th, and since there is no more “testing the waters”, entering the draft means that a player is off to the NBA.

In other words, Smith has about three weeks to make the biggest decision of his life, but the problem is that with the way the system is structured, Smith isn’t going to be getting feedback directly from NBA teams. He has to hear it second had through his head coach, or trust that the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee, a panel of executives from 20 NBA teams, is giving them worthwhile information.

But there’s a problem with that process as well. Players aren’t going to be drafted off of a consensus opinion or off of a polling of where they stand on draft boards.

Guys like Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo don’t have much to worry about. They’re getting picked in the first round, the only question ends up being where. The players that are scooped up at the end of the first round, however, do have a reason for concern. If they leave and they do’t get a guaranteed contract, they end up potentially wasting their eligibility for nothing more than a shot to play their way onto a summer league roster.

The guys in that 20-30 range get their guaranteed contract because there is one team that falls in love with their skill set. Or their potential. Or their ability to shoot. It’s not a popularity poll, it’s whether or not a team believes that player is the right fit. And they won’t know whether or not they are the right fit or have a team willing to use a late first pick on them unless they have a chance to work out with the NBA teams and get a feel how certain front offices value them.

But these kids can’t do that.

They can only guess what will happen. And it may be a partially-educated guess, but it won’t be one do with all the information that can be gathered.


Because these coaches didn’t want to be left in limbo while their stars were out flirting with the NBA. They wanted to know whether or not they had a spot to fill during the late signing period. They didn’t want to have to wait until late June to find out whether or not a player was going pro.

And as a result, it forces kids like Russ Smith to have to make tough, rushed decisions that can have a massive impact on their future.

The NCAA has a lot of dumb rules, but I’m not sure there are any that are worse than this.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

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.