Colorado v Illinois

Personal improvement equals team success for Colorado’s Spencer Dinwiddie

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While the Colorado football team has taken its lumps during the school’s brief run in the Pac-12, the men’s basketball program has seen its fortunes change for the better under head coach Td Boyle. The Buffaloes have reached the NCAA tournament in consecutive season for the first time since accomplishing that feat in 1962 and 1963, and despite the early departure of forward Andre Roberson they’re expected to be a contender in the Pac-12 this season.

A major reason for Colorado’s recent run of success has been their recruiting of California, which was directly impacted by the school’s move form the Big 12 to the Pac-12. Three of CU’s five projected starters hail from the Golden State, including 6-foot-6 junior point guard Spencer Dinwiddie. As a sophomore Dinwiddie led Colorado in both points (15.3 ppg) and assists (3.0 apg), earning first-team All-Pac 12 honors as a result.

With Roberson now in the NBA more will be expected of Dinwiddie, whose skill set attracted the attention of NBA scouts as the 2012-13 season wore on. That attention can be a negative for some players, with the desire to fit the NBA “mold” ultimately taking away from what their college team needs. But that isn’t expected to be the case for Dinwiddie, as he looks to achieve his childhood dream of not just reaching the NBA but ultimately excelling at that level.

“It’s really great because (scouts) are not asking me to go outside of my comfort zone or outside of my box,” Dinwiddie said. “They’re saying we want to see consistent effort on both ends of the floor, assist-to-turnover ratio, leadership and we want to see you win more games in the Tournament. Those are all things that point to a great season for Colorado, not just for Spencer.”

One area in which Dinwiddie will need to improve in 2013-14 is on the glass, as noted by coach Boyle in the article written by Brian Howell of Averaging 3.2 rebounds per game may be permissible for most point guards, but given his height Dinwiddie isn’t your standard floor general. Add in the fact that Roberson was so good on the glass (defensive rebounding percentage of 27.1% per Ken Pomeroy’s numbers; Xavier Johnson was second on the team at 14.3%), and it’s rather evident that Colorado will need “all hands on deck” in order to account for the production they’ve lost in that department.

“For his size at the guard position, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be averaging six or seven rebounds a game,” Boyle told Howell.

Arizona State’s Jahii Carson is the generally accepted answer to the question of who the best point guard in the Pac-12 is entering the 2013-14 season, but there are a number of contenders for the honor with Dinwiddie being one of the options. And if Dinwiddie continues to progress, both he and the Colorado basketball program can reap the rewards in the spring.

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.