Mitch McGary

Michigan’s Mitch McGary enters 2014 NBA Draft under less than ideal circumstances


With Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III having already decided to enter the 2014 NBA Draft, the Michigan basketball program was still waiting to find out what sophomore forward Mitch McGary would do. Friday morning the school announced that McGary, who played in just eight games this past season due to a lower back injury, would forego his final two seasons of eligibility to enter the NBA Draft.

However, what is normally seen as a joyous occasion for an athlete may not exactly be the case for McGary. Why? Because in the announcement, McGary also disclosed that he was facing a year-long suspension after failing an NCAA-administered drug test during the NCAA tournament.

“My family and I want to thank everyone for giving us privacy and the time to make this decision,” McGary said in the release. “As you know, it was important for us to weigh all the factors that go into something like this. With that being said, I am ready to move on to the next stage in my life and enter the NBA Draft.

“Being a part of a program that values integrity, it is important to let everyone know of a poor decision I recently made. I tested positive for marijuana during the NCAA Tournament. We were notified of that result after the Final Four. I regret thoroughly disappointing my family, coaches and administration. Despite all of this they have been understanding and helpful over the last couple of weeks.

“I take full responsibility for this poor choice and want to apologize to everyone, especially those I have grown close to during my fabulous two years at the University of Michigan.”

Following every NCAA tournament game the governing body randomly selects a couple players to undergo a drug test, and the penalty for failing are quite severe. Failing an NCAA-administered drug test carries a one-year suspension, even for a drug such as marijuana.

As for drug tests administered by schools throughout the season, the consequences for a first-time positive are generally far less severe since they’re allowed to set their own policies. Michigan’s policy is that an athlete would spend a week away from the team miss 10% of the team’s games for a first-time positive.

The NCAA in mid-April announced that one of the changes being considered was the lessening of penalties for testing positive for marijuana, with the governing body ruling that it is not a performance-enhancing drug. However with that change not going into effect until August 1, that clearly wasn’t going to help McGary’s case. Under that new policy, a positive test would cost an athlete half their season as opposed to all of it.

But even with that being the case many will wonder how (or why) a player who wasn’t playing due to injury would be drawn for a random drug test. Unfortunately for Michigan, they’ll be without a key interior component as a result.

The Wolverines have now lost McGary, Jordan Morgan (graduation) and Jon Horford (transfer) from its front court, meaning that young players such as redshirt freshman Mark Donnal, redshirt junior Max Bielfeldt and newcomers Ricky Doyle and D.J. Wilson will have a lot on their collective shoulders in 2014-15.

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.