Green Bay Athletics

Guard Cole Stefan becomes fifth player to leave Green Bay program

Leave a comment

After making the decision to transfer to Green Bay after playing one season at La Salle for health reasons (multiple concussions), 6-4 guard Cole Stefan struggled to make his mark in Brian Wardle’s program.

In 19 games last season Stefan, a native of Minnetonka, Minn., averaged 3.4 points per game and shot 33.3% from beyond the arc. On Thursday it was announced that Stefan has decided to transfer, making him the fifth player to leave the Green Bay program since February.

The news comes less than a week after the school announced that, following an investigation into allegations of wrongdoing, it would retain Wardle as head coach.

“I think in all honesty that I can’t reach my full potential at Green Bay,” Stefan told Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

“I had to leave La Salle because of medical issues, and I thought it would be more positive to stay closer to home, but maybe it wasn’t the best fit from the beginning. I feel like I can’t do what I want to do or reach my potential in that environment.”

With his decision to transfer, Stefan joins guards Kam Cerroni and Sultan Muhammad, and forwards Nick Arenz and Ryan Bross as players who have left the program.

While the exodus of players from the Green Bay program clearly isn’t the ideal situation, it should also be noted that on Thursday two players issued a statement in support of their head coach.

Center Alec Brown (14.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg) and guard Kiefer Sykes (15.9 ppg, 4.3 apg), Green Bay’s top two scorers last season (and that will be the case in 2013-14 as well), said the following in defense of Wardle according to the Press-Gazette:

“We are really happy that the investigation is over, and we are excited about playing together next season for coach Wardle and our other coaches. This has not been an easy couple of months for our team and coaches to go through and we are ready to move forward. The character and communication in our locker room is really good right now, and we are focused on getting better this offseason and contending for a championship next year.”

In addition to Brown and Sykes, Green Bay returns one of the Horizon League’s top newcomers in 6-7 forward Jordan Fouse (6.8 ppg, 7.9 rpg) and welcomes a three-member recruiting class (forwards Turner Botz and Kenneth Lowe, and guard Tevin Findlay).

If the remaining pieces are all pushing in the same direction, Green Bay can improve upon their 18 wins of a season ago.

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Michigan State playing zone? It’s possible

Tom Izzo
Associated Press
Leave a comment

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
Leave a comment

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.