Gary Harris

Report: Gary Harris finishes rehab, is working out again

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Michigan State needed Adreian Payne to return to school if they were going to make a run at a national title.

With Derrick Nix graduating and with their only incoming front court player being Gavin Schilling — who isn’t exactly the second coming of Greg Oden — Tom Izzo’s team was going to have a massive question mark along their front line had Payne put his name in the NBA Draft.

But he decided to play out his final season in East Lansing, which means that the Spartans immediately became the early favorites to win the Big Ten and arguably the best team in the country outside of the state of Kentucky.

For them to reach that potential, however, a couple of things need to happen.

First of all, Branden Dawson needs to take advantage of finally having an offseason to develop. He’s an athletic specimen, but after spending the whole of last summer recovering from ACL surgery, he needs to put in the effort to become more than just an athlete; he needs to learn to be a basketball player.

The second key for the Spartans is to get Gary Harris healthy. He spent last season dealing with a shoulder injury, and as a result, we, as Izzo put it, “haven’t seen the Gary Harris I recruited yet”. The good news? It looks like Harris is healthy enough to resume offseason workouts. From Diamond Leung over at

Michigan State guard Gary Harris is participating in staff-supervised workouts allowed by the NCAA after dealing with shoulder injuries while capturing Big Ten freshman of the year honors last season.

Harris elected to avoid surgery on his left shoulder after spraining it in November and seeing it nag him throughout the season. Michigan State coach Tom Izzo had said that was “a good decision,” and now he’s seeing the benefits of it as the Spartans prepare for a national title run.

The key, Gary Harris Sr. told The Drive with Jack Ebling, was to simply take some time off, focusing on rest and rehab. Assuming that Harris has gotten his shoulder back to 100%, he still has all summer to become a better basketball player.

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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.