Two possessions enough to change an opinion on ’15 combo-guard Jon Davis?

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PHILADELPHIA — Jon Davis had put on a good performance through the first day and a half at the Reebok Breakout Classic, an elite camp structured around games for 100 or so of the nation’s elite prospects.

A 6-foot-2 combo-guard in the Class of 2015, Davis plays for the DC Assault and already holds offers from DePaul, Rutgers, Towson and Delaware. He’s hearing from the likes of VCU, Cincinnati and Xavier. He’s certainly not a secret.

But he’s not on the same level as Emmanuel Mudiay, the No. 3 prospect in the Class of 2014, according to Rivals, which is why what he did when his team squared off against Mudiay’s was impressive. Mudiay had singlehandedly erased a double-digit, fourth-quarter deficit by hitting four straight three-pointers, capping off what was the most dominant performance of the camp.

There was still more than two minutes left on the clock, however, and after Mudiay had given his team the lead, Davis answered by attacking him on the ensuing possession, hitting a pull-up 15-footer in Mudiay’s face. The next time down the floor, Davis switched onto Mudiay and forced him into a tough, fadeaway 19-footer, which Mudiay missed.

Now, Davis’ team ended up losing that game, partly due to a sprained ankle that Davis suffered in the final minute, but the young man had made a statement: not only was he not scared of going up against the best, he was capable of beating them, too.

“That’s what you gotta do,” Davis told NBCSports.com as he crutched himself out of the Philadelphia University gym. “I know he’s cooking and he’s in a zone, and it’s not to one-up him or to get in a one-on-one battle with him, it’s just to let him know that I’m there. That this is still a game, you’re not going to do whatever you want to do on defense and offense.”

If any coaches in the gym took notice, they’ll have to find Davis in a different spot next season. Not only did he reclassify down into the Class of 2015 — he was young for his age and playing up a year — but he made the decision to transfer from National Christian Academy to Clinton Christian Academy. Davis said that reclassifying has been good and bad for his recruitment, as some of the schools after him wanted him to enroll next fall, but overall he believes that it will help him find the right school for him.

And for Davis, the right school doesn’t necessarily mean the program with the highest profile.

“I just want somewhere that I can play as soon as I become a freshman,” Davis said, “and I know that I’m going to have to work for that, but I want the opportunity to play as a freshman. I don’t want to come in and sit the bench for two years before I start really playing.”

One school that has caught his interest of late is VCU. Davis went down to the campus for a team camp, and enjoyed the campus. He likes the style and the fact that he can play both guard positions — “I can play on the ball, and I think I’m better off the ball right now.” — but realizes just how tough it is to play for the Rams, citing the Navy SEAL training that he went through on the visit.

“VCU might as well be a high-major school,” he said. “They’ve got one of the best coaches int he country, they getting players. When I went down there, they told me they were sold out for 35 home games in a row.”

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.