The Secondary Break: Monday’s Links

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Michigan embarks on “boot camp” as date with Arizona looms (MLive.com)
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. 

Grand Canyon lands Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson

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Grand Canyon landed an important piece for its NCAA tournament push on Saturday night as Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson pledged to the Antelopes.

The 6-foot-3 Benson will be eligible right away as spent the past three seasons with the Ducks as a key reserve guard, helping Oregon to multiple deep NCAA tournament runs. Benson picked Grand Canyon over Wisconsin for his final season of college basketball as Benson’s brother, T.J., is an assistant coach with the Antelopes.

Benson shot 40 percent from three-point range last season while also being a steady ball handler over the course of his career at Oregon as he has only 81 career turnovers in over 2,600 career minutes with the Ducks. While Benson wasn’t asked to score a lot for a loaded Oregon team that featured multiple bucket-getters, he could be asked to do more at Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon is eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time next season as the addition of Benson gives them an experienced guard who should be more of a factor in the WAC. The Antelopes are coming off of a 22-9 season in which they finished 11-3 in conference play.

With great facilities and a quickly-growing fan base, head coach Dan Majerle has the potential makings of a perennial mid-major conference contender if he continues to recruit well to Grand Canyon.

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averaged 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.