Emmanuel Mudiay to visit Kentucky, trim list to five at the end of the month


PHILADELPHIA — Reebok’s Breakout Classic kicked off in with style, as top ten recruits Rashad Vaughn and Emmanuel Mudiay squared off in the first game of the first day.

The game itself ended up being a bust, as neither Mudiay or Vaughn played all that well with Mudiay’s team winning in a rout. Andrew Wiggins vs. Julius Randle, this was not. It was, however, a chance for Mudiay to play in front of two of the head coaches currently pursuing the Texas native: Larry Brown and John Calipari.

“I notice them. They wink at me here and there,” Mudiay, who is ranked No. 3 in the Class of 2014 according to Rivals and who is the No. 2 PG in the class, said with a chuckle on Wednesday afternoon. “I’m used to it now.”

Mudiay’s list is down to ten school: Kentucky, SMU, Arizona, Baylor, Kansas, Louisville, NC State, Oklahoma State, St. John’s and Texas. He said he’ll be trimming that list to five by the end of the month.

But he’s only scheduled a visit with one of those schools, having locked in a trip to Lexington for an official visit during Big Blue Madness. And if you’ve ever seen the videos from Big Blue Madness, you understand why. And while SMU doesn’t seem like the kind of basketball program that can compete for a recruit like Mudiay with a school like Kentucky, the Mustangs have a puncher’s chance, Mudiay says.

“They’re 20 minutes away from the house and they’ve got a legend there in the office,” Mudiay said. “The thing about Larry Brown that I love is that he don’t talk to me just about basketball. He talks to me about family and life, and that’s a big thing to me. He’s religious, I’m religious.”

Mudiay has said all spring and summer that the thing that he’s working on the most in competing on every possession, which isn’t exactly a promising thing to hear from a star lead guard. But it’s also understandable; when you’re criss-crossing the country all spring and summer playing in event after event where the outcome of the games don’t matter, it’s not easy to care about every single possession.

At least Mudiay is open about that fact.

It’s also not the only part of his game he’s working on improving.

“Being more consistent with my shooting, I’ve been working on that,” he said. “I’m getting better. Mo Williams, my coach for AAU basketball, has been working with me.”

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.