Wayne Selden, Jr.

Wayne Selden’s breakout performance carries No. 18 Kansas over Oklahoma

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Perry Ellis went for 21 points and 11 boards and Naadir Tharpe chipped in with 17 as No. 18 Kansas bounced back from an atrocious offensive performance against San Diego State by scoring 90 for just the third time this season in a 90-83 win at Oklahoma on Wednesday night.

As a team, the Jayhawks shot 54.7% from the floor and 8-for-16 from three, a stark contrast to the 29.8% that the Aztecs held them to. Making those numbers all the more impressive is the fact that the two star freshmen for the Jayhawks did a whole lotta nothing.

Joel Embiid had six points and six boards while shooting 2-for-4 from the floor, but at least he had an excuse. His left eye was nearly swollen shut, and he was forced to wear goggles that he was clearly uncomfortable with.

Andrew Wiggins was another story. He shot 2-for-9 from the floor, committed a pair of turnovers and just seemed out of it the entire game. He never got into a rhythm. He was never aggressive. He didn’t want to finish strong at the rim. He essentially did everything that we’ve been concerned about regarding Wiggins all season long, and he was rightly ripped for it all game by ESPN color commentator Jay Bilas.

The good news for Kansas?

That their forgotten freshmen, Wayne Selden, had the best game of his young career. He finished with 24 points, with 15 coming in the first nine minutes of the game, and hit five threes. Coming into the game, his career-high was 15 points. That’s big for the Jayhawks, because if Wiggins is never going to fully embrace his talent level, than they need to find a scoring punch from somewhere on their perimeter.

Selden is as talented as anyone that they have, and while it would be tough to ask him to duplicate a performance like this on a nightly basis, getting the freshman a little confidence is never a bad thing.

As far as Oklahoma is concerned, their next three games are huge. They host Iowa State on Saturday and then head to both Kansas State and Baylor never week. The top four teams in the Big 12, back-to-back-to-back-to-back. That’s an easy way to lose four straight if they’re not careful.

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.