With the top three rebounders from last season’s team gone, Bethune-Cookman head coach Gravelle Craig can use the extra help in the paint as the Wildcats look to improve on their 14-20 (7-9 MEAC) record of a year ago. On Friday the school announced the addition of graduate transfer Daquan Brown, who joins the program after spending the 2012-13 campaign at Hofstra.
Brown played just over ten minutes per game in his lone season at Hofstra, averaging 2.7 points and 1.4 rebounds per game for the Pride. Prior to that stop in Hempstead, Brown played two seasons at Barstow College in California. Brown averaged a double-double in both seasons, accounting for 17 points and ten rebounds as a freshman and following that up with averages of 14 and ten as a sophomore.
The hope for Bethune-Cookman is that Brown can come close to replicating that production during his final season of collegiate eligibility.
“Daquan is an active ‘4’ man with good length. His size will allow us to match up with bigger/taller teams in our league,” Craig said in the release announcing the addition. “He has a high basketball IQ and can score out to 12 ft. He is also an experienced player that played in a tough conference. He makes us bigger and better.”
Brown joins a program that lost two players who finished the season with defensive rebounding percentages above 21% in forwards Javoris Bryant (21.9%) and Alex Smith (21.5%), ranking second and third in the MEAC in that category according to kenpom.com. Smith was also productive on the offensive glass, managing to post an offensive rebounding percentage of 10.5%.
Without those two and leading scorer and rebounder Adrien Coleman (17.8 ppg, 7.4 rpg), Bethune-Cookman needs players such as Brown and High Point transfer Travis Elliott to prove themselves capable of shouldering the load on the boards.
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.