The Secondary Break: Tuesday’s Links

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Maryland’s Dez Wells goes up against his mentor, N.C. Central head coach Levelle Moton (Washington Post)
In their final non-conference game of the year Maryland takes on North Carolina Central on Tuesday afternoon, and junior wing Dez Wells will see a familiar face as a result. N.C. Central head coach Levelle Moton served as a mentor to Wells while the Terrapin was growing up in Durham, N.C., and he remains an important figure in Wells’ life.

BU’s Watson emerging as a sophomore star (City of Basketball Love)
Boston University guard Maurice Watson has been one of the Patriot League’s best players thus far, and he’s one reason why the Terriers are expected to win the league in their first season as a member.

Piracy: sports leagues’ biggest problem? (San Diego Union-Tribune)
This story focuses on the proliferation of streaming websites and their impact on professional sports, but there’s also been a impact on college sports as well. It’s an interesting read to say the least.

Cal, Stanford hurt by injuries in backcourt (San Jose Mercury News)
California and Stanford open Pac-12 play on Thursday night, when they meet in Palo Alto. And both teams have had some injury issues to deal with on the perimeter, with Cal missing both Jabari Bird and Ricky Kreklow and Stanford losing Aaron Bright for the season.

For Michigan’s Mitch McGary, college basketball giveth and taketh away (MLive.com)
After enjoying a highly productive NCAA tournament, Michigan forward Mitch McGary could have struck while the iron was hot and made the move to the next level. But instead of being a possible first round selection McGary returned to Ann Arbor, and now he’s out indefinitely with a lower back injury that requires surgery.

Big East, Ackerman taking long-term approach (Fox Sports)
On Tuesday the first conference season of the new Big East gets underway, with all ten teams playing throughout the course of the day. But even with questions about television deals and ratings, the conference and its commissioner Val Ackerman chooses to approach things with a long-term view.

Parting ways with Chane Behanan probably best (Louisville Courier-Journal)
On Monday Louisville head coach Rick Pitino announced that junior forward Chane Behanan was dismissed from the program, with their being no way for him to earn his way back after multiple transgressions. And while this is an important personnel loss for the reigning national champions, it’s one that may be best for the program moving forward.

Bill Self questions improvement of KU defense (Lawrence Journal World)
Kansas picked up a tough win on Monday night as they beat Toledo 93-83, handing the Rockets their first loss of the season. But there’s always room for improvement, and following the game head coach Bill Self wasn’t too thrilled with his team’s performance on the defensive end.

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.