Report: Texas pulling out of season-opening quadruple-header in Dallas

Leave a comment

With the formation of a quadruple-header to be played at American Airlines Arena in Dallas on November 8, college basketball will have a season-opening event of sorts with the idea of playing on aircraft carriers losing steam due to weather issues that forced the cancellation of two games and the postponement of a third.

The three games that are certain to happen in Dallas are Baylor vs. Colorado, SMU vs. TCU and Alabama vs. Oklahoma. LSU vs. Texas was supposed to be on the docket as well, but according to a report from Jason King of ESPN.com on Thursday the Longhorns may be pulling out of the event.

While there’s no official report that Texas will withdraw from the event, the two programs certainly look to be headed in opposite directions. Texas will once again be a young team in 2013-14, and given the number of departures head coach Rick Barnes could have a tough time pushing his team up the Big 12 pecking order.

As for LSU, second-year head coach Johnny Jones has put together an incoming class that includes two very good front court players in Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey. There’s also the return of key contributors such as forwards Johnny O’Bryant III and Shavon Coleman to take into consideration. On paper the Tigers have the pieces needed to make a push for an NCAA tournament berth.

According to King two of the possibilities for a replacement are Oklahoma State and Texas A&M, and if the Aggies were to fill the open spot there would be changes to the slate of games since they’re also an SEC member.

If the Cowboys were to replace Texas, that would make for an enticing season-opening matchup as Travis Ford’s team is expected to contend for a Big 12 title with Marcus Smart, Le’Bryan Nash and Markel Brown all returning to Stillwater.

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.