The Secondary Break: Monday’s Links

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Michigan embarks on “boot camp” as date with Arizona looms (
After falling at Duke last week Michigan bounced back in a big way on Saturday afternoon as they blew out Houston Baptist. But beating the Huskies and likely No. 1 Arizona are completely different matters, and the Wolverines are approaching the point where they’ll have all players available for practices. With this being the case, the team’s Monday and Tuesday practices will be a “boot camp” of sorts.

In Season Improvement Part I (Real GM)
There are a number of good thoughts in this piece, most notably the in season improvement made by teams over the years. Dan Hanner took a look at the efficiency numbers posted by teams coached by John Calipari and John Beilein while also noting ten coaches whose teams have done a good job over the years of improving throughout the course of a season.

Boston College basketball: breaking down the defense part one (BC Interruption)
At 3-6 on the season there’s no doubt that Boston College has been one of the more disappointing teams in the country. One critical reason why: Steve Donahue’s team has made no improvements on the defensive end after struggling in 2012-13. This is a really good breakdown of just one aspect of the BC defense to date, taking a look at how they’ve done in transition defense.

St. Francis-Brooklyn awaits college basketball comforts of home (Staten Island Advance)
Glen Braica’s St. Francis-Brooklyn Terriers are off to a solid 5-4 start, which includes a win at Miami and a six-point loss at Syracuse. That record’s come despite playing just one home game this season. They’ll play their second on Tuesday when former NEC rival Monmouth (now in the MAAC) visits.

Strong second half carries Zags (Spokane Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga struggled some with New Mexico State in the first half on Saturday night, as the Aggies did their best to take away guards Gary Bell Jr. and Kevin Pangos. But the Bulldogs adjusted in the second half, with Gerard Coleman and Sam Dower figuring prominently in the 80-68 victory.

Ben Mills was ready when called against Kansas (Denver Post)
With starting big man Wesley Gordon sidelined with a concussion, someone needed to step up and provide some quality minutes for Colorado in the first half of their 75-72 win over No. 6 Kansas. That someone was seldom-used center Ben Mills, who gave the Buffaloes a needed boost during his time on the floor.

IU’s Assembly Hall: Its origins and its future (Indianapolis Star)
With news of renovations for Indiana’s Assembly Hall, the Indianapolis Star provided an exclusive look into what the exact changes would be for one of the sport’s most recognizable facilities.

Iona capable of reaching another NCAA tournament (New York Post) 
On the heels of their solid win at FGCU Iona’s opened MAAC play with a 2-0 record. Guard Sean Armand and forward David Laury III have led the way for Tim Cluess’ squad, and the Gaels have the look of a team capable of making a return trip to the NCAA tournament. But they currently aren’t the top team in one writer’s rankings of the New York metropolitan area’s college basketball teams. 

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.