While he may have played his college basketball at Wagner, there’s a good chance that fans familiar with the program remember former Central Connecticut State forward Obie Nwadike.
In four seasons at CCSU Nwadike proved to be one of the best rebounders in school history (despite being 6-4), grabbing 980 caroms as a Blue Devil. After playing overseas for four seasons ( in Luxembourg and Spain) Nwadike has decided to move into the coaching ranks, and on Friday it was announced that Wagner’s hired him as a graduate assistant.
Nwadike, who played his high school ball at St. Anthony H.S. in Jersey City for Bob Hurley Sr., also managed to score more than 1,200 points at CCSU. His addition to the staff can only help the Wagner front line as the Seahawks begin the task of accounting for the loss of leading rebounder Jonathon Williams (6.4 rpg).
Wagner got its work done on the glass as a unit last season, with four players averaging between 4.3 (forward Orlando Parker and guard Kenneth Ortiz) and 6.4 (Williams) rebounds per game. As a result the Seahawks were one of the NEC’s best rebounding teams in 2012-13, finishing the season ranked second in rebounding margin (+3.5) and third in both offensive (34.9%) and defensive (69.5%) rebounding percentages.
But with Williams no longer in the picture, senior center Naofall Folahan (3.2 rpg) is one interior player who will be asked to do more on the glass in 2013-14. Folahan finished the season with rebounding percentages of 10.5 (offensive) and 15.6 (defensive), meaning that he was productive on the boards when in the game. But he played an average of just 14.6 minutes per game as a junior so the questions now are: can he earn more playing time, and can he produce at that level with more minutes?
Maybe the addition of Nwadike can help when it comes to Folahan’s development, and if the big man improves the Seahawks will have a better chance against perennial favorites LIU Brooklyn and Robert Morris this winter.
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.
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.