rodneyy hood

2014 NBA Draft: What early entry decisions are we still waiting for?

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source: AP
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Today is the day after the NCAA’s April 15th deadline for players to enter the NBA Draft.

It’s also the day after the most irrelevant deadline in American sporting culture.

“It’s the most meaningless date in college sports,” Arizona head coach Sean Miller said on Tuesday as two of his players, Nick Johnson and Aaron Gordon, declared for the NBA Draft. “It’s almost like a ploy. … April 27th is the only day that matter.”

What that means is that while the NCAA’s official early entry deadline has passed, college coaches — including the self-serving ACC coaches that moved the NCAA’s withdrawal deadline up two months — still have to wait 11 days to hear about the potential pros on their roster.

Here are the 14 guys we’re still waiting to hear from:

Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood, Duke: Most expect both Dukies to be headed to the NBA, but, ironically enough, it seems more likely that Parker, a top three pick, would return that Hood, a mid-first rounder. Duke is already looking like they will be one of the top three teams in the country heading into next season without either of these two. That’s what happens when Tyus Jones, Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Grayson Allen join the likes of Rasheed Sulaimon, Quinn Cook and Amile Jefferson. The one thing that team would be missing, however, is a big wing that can score. If either player returns, Duke could end up being scary-good next year.

Kentucky’s guys: Julius Randle and James Young are both expected to leave. Dakari Johnson and Alex Poythress are both expected to return. The two that are major question marks are Andrew and Aaron Harrison, neither of whom are projected as guaranteed first round picks. Kentucky is going to once again have an overwhelming front line next season, but where they are going to struggle is in their back court. Tyler Ulis and Devin Booker are both excellent recruits, but they’re not the kind of instant impact players that you typically find with Kentucky freshmen. They’re four-year guys. And they’re also the entirety of the Kentucky perimeter attack next season. If the Harrisons return, it would give those two a chance to develop while spending more time playing a role. Either way, Kentucky is going to be a top five team entering next season.

Mitch McGary, Michigan: The Wolverines are losing Jordan Morgan (graduation), Jon Horford (transfer), Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III (NBA). They will bring back Caris LeVert, Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin, a trio that will give them one of the best perimeters in the country, McGary would be the rock in the paint. With him back, Michigan is a top 15 team. Without him, they’re borderline top 25. He’s currently projected as the No. 31 pick, according to Draft Express.

DeAndre Daniels and Ryan Boatright, UConn: With both Daniels and Boatright back for their senior years, UConn would likely enter the season as the favorite to win the American. But coming off of a national title and with their stock as high as it is going to be, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see both leave.

Jordan Adams, UCLA: The Bruins had a promising recruiting class this season, but with Kyle Anderson and Zach LaVine both going pro, losing Adams, who is projected as a late-first round pick this season, would leave them without a veteran scoring presence.

A.J. Hammons, Purdue: Hammons has the talent to be a lottery pick and the attitude to spend his career in the NBDL. He’s projected as a second rounder, according to Draft Express. Purdue will be in major rebuilding mode without him.

K.J. McDaniels, Clemson: McDaniels turned out to be one of the ACC’s best athletes and most versatile defenders. I’m not sure the Tigers are a tournament team next year with him, but they certainly aren’t without him. He’s projected as the No. 20 pick in this year’s draft, according to Draft Express.

Six more names to keep an eye on:

  • Khem Birch, UNLV
  • Elfrid Payton, Louisiana-Lafayette
  • Jordan Mickey and Jarrell Martin, LSU
  • Bobby Portis, Arkansas
  • Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado

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.