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Auburn will not appeal Bruce Pearl’s show-cause penalty


Auburn made one of the biggest splashes of this year’s coaching carousel last month when they hired ex-Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl.

Pearl is an excellent coach, taking Tennessee to a No. 1 ranking and within a possession of the Final Four, but his success was cut short when he was given a three-year show-cause penalty by the NCAA for lying about the infamous 2008 barbecue he hosted at his house.

That show-cause penalty runs out on August 24th, meaning that in order for Pearl to be able to be on the road recruiting during the all-important April and July live periods, he would have to file an appeal with the NCAA.

On Tuesday, the school announced that they would not be filing said appeal.

“I felt strongly that not appealing the show-cause order was the right thing to do, and coach Pearl wholeheartedly agreed we should not contest it,” Tigers AD Jay Jacobs said in a statement. “When I decided to hire coach Pearl, I was well aware of these restrictions and their ramifications. Coach Pearl and I both respect the process and we will fully honor the show-cause until it expires in August.”

“When I received my show-cause penalty from the NCAA in August 2011, I chose then not to appeal as it would lessen my position of accountability,” Pearl added. “Auburn University, the SEC and the NCAA have given me an opportunity to return to coaching before my show-cause ends and I am grateful. I have confidence in our coaching staff’s ability to present Auburn University and its men’s basketball program until my show-cause ends.”

Pearl told SI.com earlier this month that he’s relying on his assistant coaches and his track record as a head coach to do the recruiting for him. His staff has already earned a commitment from highly-rated JuCo transfer Cinmeon Bowers and is one of the final schools on the list for Marshall transfer Kareem Canty. When a prospect is on an official visit, Pearl said he won’t even visit the basketball building.

“Let’s say my phone rings and it’s an AAU coach,” Pearl told SI, “and I’ve got hundreds of them in my phone. A lot of them have called and said hey, congratulations, welcome back. Within the first 10-15 seconds I’m letting them all know that I appreciate their call and their best wishes, but I can’t talk to then until Aug. 24. Talk to [Chuck] Person, talk to [Tony] Jones.”

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.