NCAA Men's Final Four - Practice

The Secondary Break: Friday’s Links

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An oral history of Hoop Dreams 20 years after its premiere (The Dissolve)
In 1994 the documentary Hoop Dreams made its debut at the Sundance Film Festival, with the film documenting the lives of two youngsters from Chicago looking to realize their dreams through the game of basketball. A critically acclaimed movie, the lessons that can be derived from Hoop Dreams still apply this very day. In this story the creators of the film discuss everything that went into the making of Hoop Dreams.

Why is the NCAA still hounding Sonny Vaccaro? (Sports on Earth)
With the pending Ed O’Bannon lawsuit hanging over college athletics, the games as we’ve come to know them could be in for major changes if the plaintiffs win the suit. One person who’s been looking for change for quite some time is Sonny Vaccaro, whose work for Nike, Reebok and adidas changed the course of college basketball. But even though he no longer connected with a particular shoe company, the NCAA is still after him according to Vaccaro.

“They want us to have a voice, but they put a muzzle on us” (The Chronicle for Higher Education)
With the NCAA holding meetings in San Diego this week, the membership is having discussions on a number of topics important to the present and future of the organization. Also important are the student-athletes themselves, but according to one member of the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee they aren’t allowed the forum to fully express their thoughts on the current state of the NCAA.

Syracuse basketball practice narrated by Mike Hopkins and Adrian Autry (Syracuse Post-Standard)
It’s always interesting to learn how some of the nation’s best teams approach practice, from skill development to how they go about preparing for their next opponent. This post provides audio from Syracuse assistants Mike Hopkins and Adrian Autry, complete with a photo gallery. Unfortunately there’s no actual practice video, but that’s to be expected in most stories like this.

Memphis, UConn need rivalry to begin (Connecticut Post)
With conference realignment seemingly done for the time being programs need to get used to their new surroundings, establishing new rivalries with teams they rarely met in the past. That’s the case for UConn and Memphis in the American Athletic Conference, with Thursday’s meeting being their first as members of the same conference. And given their successes over the years, these two programs (as well as Cincinnati) will be asked to carry the American banner into the future.

Throwback Thursday Q & A with Indiana’s A.J. Guyton (Big Ten Network)
Former Indiana guard A.J. Guyton was an outstanding player during his time in Bloomington, winning Big Ten Player of the Year and earning first team All-America honors as a senior. Now coaching the junior varsity team at his high school alma mater as well as in the Premier Basketball League, Guyton answered some questions about his playing career and what he’s up to now. Question: how does he not own a pair of Indiana’s iconic candy-striped warmup pants?

Energy Bus (Slam Magazine)
Given how much they lost from last season’s CBI championship team, not much was expected of Kerry Keating’s Santa Clara Broncos this season. With senior Evan Rocquemore and freshman Jared Brownridge leading the way the Broncos hope to surprise some people this season, while also building a stable foundation for the future. And one of the points of motivation for this group was inspired by Jon Gordon’s book entitled “Energy Bus.”

Watch the first official trailer for the new Wilt Chamberlain film “Jayhawkers” (Fox Sports Kansas City)
On Thursday the makers of the film “Jayhawkers” released the first official trailer, with the movie telling the story of Wilt Chamberlain’s path to and experiences at the University of Kansas. The actor playing Chamberlain in the movie is none other than current Kansas reserve forward Justin Wesley.

As good as they’ve been, No. 3 Michigan State has yet to play their best

Bryn Forbes, Ryan Fazekas
Associated Press
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Sunday night’s Wooden Legacy title game matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence was billed as a matchup of the nation’s two best players, and rightfully so. Michigan State senior Denzel Valentine (17 points, six rebounds, five assists), who already has two triple-doubles to his credit this season, and Providence redshirt junior Kris Dunn (21 points, five rebounds, seven assists) have more than lived up to the preseason expectations and more of the same was expected in Anaheim.

And while both had their moments, it was Michigan State’s supporting cast that made the difference in their 77-64 victory. The scary thing for future opponents on Michigan State’s schedule is that Tom Izzo’s team is nowhere near being a finished product.

With Valentine dealing with first-half foul trouble Bryn Forbes stepped up, scoring 13 of his 18 points to help the Spartans take a two-point lead into the half. As for the 11-0 run that Michigan State produced to take control of the game late, a host of players stepped forward in regards to scoring, rebounding and defending.

Freshmen Deyonta Davis and Matt McQuaid combined to score nine points over the final 5:32, with transfer guard Eron Harris adding six of his 12 points during that stretch. The Spartans outscored the Friars, who aren’t as deep, 22-7 during that stretch to close out the game, hunting for quality shots and hitting the offensive glass while making things difficult for Providence on the other end of the floor.

The end result was a final margin that does not indicate just how close the game was. While Providence seemed to run out of steam Michigan State received contributions from multiple players, which is undoubtedly a good sign for this group moving forward.

The Spartans will return the currently injured Gavin Schilling later this season, giving them another big man alongside Davis, Matt Costello and Colby Wollenman. He was a player they missed Sunday night, as he can defend opposing big men both in the post and on the perimeter. His absence was a main reason Michigan State didn’t have an answer for Providence’s Ben Bentil (20 points, seven rebounds) defensively.

The key for this group is going to end up being role definition, which is especially true in the case of Harris. A transfer from West Virginia, Harris came to East Lansing with the reputation of being a big time scorer. He’s struggled through the first two weeks of the season, but he got on a roll on Sunday night, finishing with 12 points, three boards and three assists. He showed he’s capable of doing a variety of things on the perimeter, and fitting into a “Swiss army knife” kind of role would make Michigan State that much more dangerous.

There’s no denying that Michigan State has been one of the nation’s best teams thus far.

But there’s also no denying that the Spartans have yet to hit their ceiling, which is definitely a positive moving forward.

Wichita State’s Anton Grady returns home with team

AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.
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Wichita State forward Anton Grady was released from a hospital in Orlando on Sunday afternoon in time to return home with his Shocker teammates.

Grady suffered a spinal corn concussion on Friday when he collided head-first with an Alabama defender, snapping his head sharply to the side. He lay on the court motionless for 10 minutes after the injury and was taken off the floor on a stretcher.

[RELATED: Can WSU still make tourney?]

“I want to send out a big thank you to Shocker Nation and all of my friends and family for of the love and encouragement that I have received the past few days,” Grady said in a statement on Sunday morning. “I’ve been reading your tweets and posts and appreciate every last one of them. I have a lot of work to do to get back on the court, but with the help of such a great support system, I’m ready for the challenge.”

By Friday night, Grady had feeling in all of his extremities, but he has a long road of rehab ahead of him.