Mike Krzyzewski

Coach K not a fan of the fascination with one-and-done freshmen


It’s no secret that the biggest story in college basketball this season is the freshmen class: Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, Aaron Gordon.

Those guys are superstars. They’ve been talked about as high schoolers. They’re already being talked about as the savior of NBA franchises. There’s a reason that the Champions Classic, which featured three of those four freshmen, got massive ratings.

But is that a good thing for the sport?

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski says no.

“Nationally, I’m a little bit worried that that is always becoming a thing,” Krzyzewski told reporters Tuesday. “I think part of it is that people who show our games show NBA, too. So, the constant thought is cross-promoting.”

“I love ESPN, and I think they should do whatever they want to do. But what I’m saying is, in some ways, we as a college basketball community should not completely buy into that.”

Coach K also said that two guys that he coached with Team USA this summer, Marcus Smart and Doug McDermott, should be getting more attention.

“These kids [the freshmen] are all great, don’t get me wrong,” he said. “But there are other great kids. Two kids who played in the summer for me in a five-day mini camp in Vegas with 28 other NBA players were McDermott and Smart. Well, they’re two of the best players in the country. They may be the two best.”

Coach K has a point. What the one-and-done rule has done is force college basketball’s biggest stars, the guys that NBA fans can watch and “scout” and imagine leading their team to the NBA finals, into one-year stopovers at the collegiate level. But it has also made college basketball that much more relevant. Star power attracts viewers. People want to witness greatness, and while I would love to see those four freshmen spend three or four years playing at the collegiate level, it ain’t gonna happen.

The one-and-done rule is here to stay, and frankly, it’s a good thing for college basketball. Getting these talents onto a college campus, even for a year, is a good thing for the sport. It’s a good thing for coaches landing recruits like Jabari Parker, Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones and Justise Winslow. It’s a good thing for fans that enjoy watching awesome basketball players and it’s a good thing for writers that love writing about awesome basketball players.

You don’t like freshmen being stars? You want them on campus longer? Give them a way to tap into their value. I bet if Jabari Parker could make a comparable amount in college to what he can make in the NBA, he’d be much more likely to hang around for more than one season.

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.