ESPN Events: Puerto Rico Tip-Off
Long Beach is off to a 1-3 start this season, with losses to Arizona, Loyola Marymount and fellow Puerto Rico Tip-Off participant Kansas State. And now they face a Michigan team that came up just six points short against Louisville in last season’s national championship game.
Monson said his scheduling philosophy dates to his first season as a head coach, with Gonzaga in the late 1990s. He took the Bulldogs to the Top of the World Classic in Alaska, where they beat Tulsa (coached by Bill Self), Mississippi State (which was coming off a Final Four appearance) and fifth-ranked Clemson to capture the tournament championship.
“I was a naïve first-year head coach, and I thought, ‘Wow, this is easy. Why doesn’t everybody do this?’ ” Monson joked. “I’ve taken some poundings along the way since then, but this (type of schedule) is truly for us to get better. Our players are 18 to 20 years olds. They don't need confidence, they need reality. We try to give them reality here of how much better we have to get.”
Though Michigan (2-1) lost several key players from last season’s squad, they do return sophomore forward Glen Robinson III, who is averaging 13.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. The Wolverines have three other players scoring in double figures as well as a 10.7 rebounding average from 6-foot-10 junior forward Jon Horford.
“Glenn Robinson has taken on a real leadership role with this team, and he has some good, fine young men to lead,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “They love Glenn, and Glenn has provided some great leadership both in his work habits and what he says and does on and off the court.
“The majority of our team has one year of experience or this is their first year. But we’re moving in the right direction. They’re making progress. This tournament will really assist us in growing very quickly early in the season.”
As for Long Beach, Monson said he knows exactly where his team needs to improve in order to compete with the Wolverines. “We only have four things we need to work on now, and that's our offense, our defense, our rebounding and our shooting,” he said. “So we’re excited to play in this tournament and have a chance to use it to get better.”
“That was an incredible experience, and it meant so much more than the actual game,” said Georgetown coach John Thompson III, whose team lost to Oregon 82-75 in the Armed Forces Classic on Nov. 8, but bounced back just five days later at home to defeat Wright State 88-70. “It was invaluable for our guys just to see and be a part of that.”
Thompson said the Puerto Rico Tip-Off will provide another good test for his team. The Hoyas begin the tournament by playing Northeastern (1-2) Thursday at 1:30 p.m. Atlantic Time (12:30 p.m. ET) on ESPNU.
“No matter where you look at the field that’s been assembled, it’s challenging,” Thompson said. “We’re going to be tested each and every night. It’s a great field. As a fan you’re going to get a chance to see some good ball, and as a coach you just hope you can survive. You’re going to play three quality games. Everyone who is in this tournament is going to have to be on point and play well to succeed.”
That is certainly how Northeastern coach Bill Cohen looks at it, especially when it comes to facing Georgetown’s imposing frontcourt. The Huskies’ tallest player is 6-foot-8, while Georgetown has five players who top that height. The Hoyas’ trio of Nate Lubick, Mikael Hopkins and Joshua Smith have combined to grab 35 rebounds in the first two games of the season.
“I don’t know if we have an answer for that just yet,” Cohen said when asked about the Hoyas’ frontcourt. “They’ve been playing really, really well. They have a tradition of always having great frontcourts. We’ll probably have to play some zone and try to keep the ball from getting in there.”
In an attempt to look for any advantage possible, Cohen said he hopes his team can garner some local support, since Northeastern’s most famous basketball alum, NBA player J.J. Barea, is a native of Puerto Rico. “I think there is a lot of sense of pride surrounding J.J. in Puerto Rico,” Cohen said. “Hopefully those fans will come out and support us and be Northeastern fans for a day.”
Cary Estes is covering his fourth Puerto Rico Tip-Off. A freelance writer living in Birmingham, Estes spent 15 years working as a sportswriter for daily newspapers, mostly at the Birmingham Post-Herald. Estes has been a fulltime freelancer since 2006 and has continued covering sports for Associated Press, nbcsports.com, SI.com (NASCAR) and several daily newspapers, including the Orlando Sentinel, Charlotte Observer and Cincinnati Enquirer.
Kansas State's Bruce Weber and Charlotte's Alan Major first met more than 20 years ago, when Weber was an assistant at Purdue under Gene Keady and Major was a student manager. Major later spent time as an assistant on Weber’s staff at Southern Illinois.
“I’ve known Bruce a long, long time,” Major said. “So regardless of his personnel, I can tell you right now it’s going to be a team that plays very tough man-to-man defense. They’re going to run their motion game really well. They’re going to have a balanced lineup where they’re probably not leaning on one guy to do the damage. And they’re going to be well coached. Without knowing his roster up and down, I can definitely tell you that’s going to be the character of Kansas State.”
Weber has been equally impressed with the job Major has done during his three seasons at Charlotte, improving the 49ers from a 10-20 team to a 21-12 record last season. “Alan Major is a good friend of mine,” Weber said. “He loves basketball, is very dedicated, and has done a great job in trying to reenergize that program. I admire him and his dedication and work ethic and love for basketball. Other than on Thursday, we’ll always be cheering for him.”
Both teams are dealing with a lack of experience during these early season games. Kansas State (1-1) has seven new players (five freshmen and two transfers), which might have been a factor in the team’s 60-58 season-opening loss to Northern Colorado. The Wildcats bounced back with a 71-63 victory over Oral Roberts, led by freshman Marcus Foster’s 25 points.
“I think he’s the second player in the history of K-State to get 25 as a freshman,” Weber said. “He’s been our leading scorer in our scrimmages and one of our better players. And then in the first game, freshman Wesley Iwunda had a double-double (14 points, 10 rebounds). He’s a long, athletic player who can get to the hoop and is good in transition.”
Meanwhile, Charlotte (2-1) has an experienced starting backcourt in juniors Pierria Henry and Terrence Williams – who have combined to average 31 points and 12.7 rebounds through the first three games – but the rest of the roster is dominated by freshmen and sophomores. “We’re not quite as deep as I’d like to be, but I like our pieces,” Major said. “They’ve got a great spirit with each other.”
Cary Estes is covering his fourth Puerto Rico Tip-Off. A freelance writer living in Birmingham, Estes spent 15 years working as a sportswriter for daily newspapers, mostly at the Birmingham Post-Herald. Estes has been a fulltime freelancer since 2006 and has continued covering sports for Associated Press, nbcsports.com, SI.com (NASCAR) and several daily newspapers, including the Orlando Sentinel, Charlotte Observer and Cincinnati Enquirer.
The marquee night is less than two weeks away at the United Center, when top-ranked Kentucky showcases its fabulous freshmen class against No. 2 Michigan State. It will be the first significant test for either team. Kentucky faces UNC Asheville and Northern Kentucky before that. Michigan State opens at home against McNeese State before traveling to Chicago.
And that’s not all. The other part of the doubleheader features No. 4 Duke against fifth-ranked Kansas. Top recruit Andrew Wiggins of the Jayhawks will face No. 2 recruit Jabari Parker. Not bad, eh? Both games will be televised on ESPN.
Here's how the rest of ESPN Events’ early-season slate shakes out:
Seventh-ranked Michigan and No. 14 VCU will play in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Nov. 21-24, with a potential matchup looming in the final. The rest of the field includes Georgetown, Kansas State, Charlotte, Florida State, Long Beach State and Northeastern.
Push away from the Thanksgiving table in time to see No. 8 Oklahoma State and 13th-ranked Memphis play in the Old Spice Classic Nov. 28-Dec. 1. The rest of that event features Butler, Saint Joseph’s, LSU, Purdue, Siena and Washington State. Memphis will play at Oklahoma State in an Old Spice Classic non-bracketed game Nov. 19, and they could meet again in the final.
Memphis isn’t shying away from tough competition. The Tigers will also play No. 10 Florida in the Jimmy V Classic on Dec. 17 at Madison Square Garden.
No. 17 Marquette should be tested in the Wooden Legacy Nov. 28-Dec. 1. Creighton, which received the second-most votes of unranked teams, is also in the field along with Miami, San Diego State, Arizona State, Cal State Fullerton, College of Charleston and George Washington.
No. 23 New Mexico headlines the field in the Charleston Classic Nov. 21-24, joining UAB, Clemson, Davidson, Georgia, UMass, Nebraska and Temple.
In an era where nearly every college basketball regular-season game is available on TV or online and the Internet churns nonstop about hoops, the closed scrimmage lives on. Born in 1972, it sticks out in the NCAA manual like a rotary phone sitting between your iPad mini and Xbox. “I think sometimes we over-manage the sport,” said Northeastern coach Bill Coen, who was unable to confirm his team’s scheduled scrimmage Saturday against Boston College. “I’m not sure the reason for all the cloak-and-dagger atmosphere. But you’ve got to respect the rule. To me, it’s a high-powered practice.”
The rule works like this: Schools can play two preseason games, and since 2004 those games have to be against fellow college teams. (No more games against barnstorming clubs like Marathon Oil.) But these games can be open to the public only if it’s against a school from a lower division. Duke, which plays in the State Farm Champions Classic (Nov. 12) against Kansas, annually plays the defending Division II national champion. And Drury comes to Cameron Indoor Stadium Saturday. The Blue Devils beat Division II Bowie State 103-67 last Saturday.
But while coach Mike Krzyzewski likes the two tuneup games in front of fans, other coaches go a different route. Because if you want to play a fellow Division I school, it has to be a so-called “secret scrimmage.”
“The practice scrimmage may not be included on the institution’s published season schedule and may not count against either team’s won/loss records,” the NCAA rule reads. “Only athletics department staff members and those individuals necessary to conduct the practice scrimmage may be present during the scrimmage. Further, the institution must ensure the scrimmage is free from public view and media are not in attendance.”
At least there's the box score, right? Wrong.
“The institution may not post the score and/or statistics in a newspaper, on the participating institutions’ Web sites or any other location,” the rule continues. “In addition, an institution may not provide the score and/or any statistics to any type of media outlet.”
Still, you don’t have to work for the NSA to get a few details about these games. Media outlets put out a secret scrimmage list, while coaches can only talk in generalities about scrimmages.
Handling the exhibition/closed scrimmage situation is a balancing act for schools, especially those that can pack in fans and create revenue from exhibitions. North Carolina has a traditional closed scrimmage against Vanderbilt and plays one exhibition. Northeastern, which plays in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off (Nov. 21-24), is holding two closed scrimmages and one intra-squad scrimmage that’s open to the public.
“If you haven’t really played in front of people before, that can be an intimidating experience for freshmen,” Coen said.
But why not just make the scrimmages public? Some coaches like the ability to stop play and instruct, play more than a 40-minute game and be free from the scrutiny of fans and media. They can also experiment with different player combinations without answering questions about it. “You can really collaborate with the opposing coaching staff and design a scrimmage that’s going to get exactly what you’re hoping to work on,” Coen continued. “In a closed-door scrimmage you can go a little longer and design segments that work on zone defense, or out-of-bounds (plays) or late-game scenarios. You can really get a little creative in that kind of environment.”
If you want to know how the Big West is won, follow the lead of Long Beach State University head coach Dan Monson. Monson, who recently turned 52, is beginning his 17th season as a head coach, and his seventh at LBSU (he had previous stops at Gonzaga and Minnesota). He boasts a 266-208 career record (a .561 winning percentage), with only five non-winning seasons. When Monson arrived at Long Beach State, he was required to straighten a ship that had gone awry and had to vacate NCAA Tournament success. The 49ers went 6-25 his inaugural season of 2007-’08, playing with a scholarship-shortened team. There hasn’t been a losing season since, and three years later LBSU won 22 games and the first of its current stretch of back-to-back-to-back conference championships. Monson, who has a 103-89 record at LBSU (64-34 in Big West play), also was rewarded, winning three straight Big West Conference Coach of the Year awards. Crucial to his ascension has been success in several early-season tournaments, including beating UCLA for the first time in school history in the 2009 76 Classic. They head to the Puerto Rico Tip-Off this season. Monson took time to talk with ESPN Events about building the LBSU program, surviving as a head coach these days and why early season tournaments are so vital to mid-majors.
Q: How does your team look heading into 2013-’14?
MONSON: We’re new, but I’m hoping we have our program to the level that every year we expect to win our league and get to the NCAA Tournament. We have that goal in mind, but we really only have two guys back that have been through the rigors of winning a league championship. We’re going to rely heavily on Mike Caffey and Dan Jennings to start the season. Then we’ve got a lot of new pieces that hopefully will fill in. The preseason will definitely be a preseason for us. We have a very difficult schedule. Not just the Puerto Rico Tip-Off; we’re going to play in Kansas State on the way there, we’ve got Arizona before that, then we come back and we’ve got USC and Creighton at home, and we’ve got Missouri, North Carolina State and Washington. We’re going to get exposed, and hopefully we can work on those things to get ourselves ready. Then Tyler Lamb, the transfer from UCLA, will become eligible around Christmas time. So hopefully those two things will get us to where this program needs to be, but we are a long ways away right now.
Q: You had six wins your first season at Long Beach State but haven’t had a losing season since. What’s been the key to building the program?
MONSON: We built a culture first, then we built on the court. That was one thing that slipped last year; even though we won the league and had some success, we kind of lost the culture—what we stand for and what a privilege it is to represent a university like this. Everybody is as committed to making this program the best it can be. That has been a building block for our success.
Q: Were there any light moments from that first season—something you can tell your current teams, “Yeah, it’s bad, but it’s not like this”?
MONSON: (laughs) I’ll never forget my first game at Long Beach State. Everybody’s hyped up, your first time you walk out onto the court, and we’ve got BYU in here. There’s excitement to a new era and all that, and I think we had eight points at halftime. It was something like 42-8. You couldn’t help but go back in and look at your assistants and just laugh and say, ‘You know, you can be as excited as you want, but if you’re not good enough, it’s only going to last so long.’ I’ve said my best coaching job with a team was that season; the other teams probably had more physical ability yet we were able to win.
Q: Your teams have participated in several ESPN Events early-season tournaments. How important has success in those events been?
MONSON: They’re huge. My first year in Gonzaga, we played up in Alaska and were able to beat Tulsa in the first game with Bill Self. The next game we beat Mississippi State, which was coming off a Final Four, and then we were able to beat Clemson, which was fifth in the country. That put Gonzaga, for the first time, on a national map, and that Clemson game was one of the first two or three national-tier games for Gonzaga. So I always felt like you’re trying to duplicate that success. We’ve tried to do that here. We’ve got Michigan in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. The only time you ever get to play schools like that is on the road, unless you can get into these types of tournaments. ESPN has been really good to us to allow us to have the opportunity to play teams of BCS caliber on neutral courts. We were able to play UCLA a few years ago in the 76 Classic. It was the first time we ever played UCLA, and it wasn’t in Pauley Pavilion. It was the first time we’ve ever beaten UCLA. So that is huge in this area to be able to do that. We were able to play Xavier and Kansas State and Auburn two years ago in Hawaii at the Diamond Head Classic and won two of those three. College basketball is won two-thirds of the time by the home team, and to be able to get on neutral courts against these teams is invaluable for a program like ours. That’s why the NCAA Tournament has so many upsets, because finally it’s an even playing field, where neither team has a home-court advantage.
Q: How cool is it for the kids to experience the culture of places like Hawaii and Puerto Rico?
MONSON: That’s what the collegiate basketball experience should be—the experience culturally of seeing different places, of playing different schools from different conferences. There’s so much value to scheduling like we do. Sure, there are some down sides, and people say, ‘Your team is going to get beat up and lose confidence.’ I don’t think many of them have been around a lot of 18- to 21-year-olds. Confidence is not what they’re lacking. These games give them a dose of reality of what we need to work on and where we need to go. So I love these types of environments and so do the kids, and it’s really impacted our recruiting. When kids look at those schedules, if UCLA’s not recruiting them, the next best thing is to play against them. With a lot of those kinds of guys, you end up getting into recruiting battles because of that.
Q: There is a great tradition of coaches at LBSU, like Jerry Tarkanian, Tex Winter, Lute Olson and others. What do you feel is your place among them?
MONSON: It is very humbling to look back at the success this program has had. [But] times have changed a little bit. There’s a little bit more of a discrepancy now than there was then between mid-majors and the BCS. Getting to that next level is a little bit more difficult. The coaching profession is just kind of in a survival mode. I’m starting my seventh year, and I might be the second- or third-longest tenured coach at Long Beach State. That says something about how vulnerable this profession is. You’re a lot like on a bucking bronco, on for a ride just trying to hang on and get some continuity in your program. I just feel really fortunate, coming from Minnesota, that I was given a second chance here and that I can hopefully put a product on the floor that everybody here is proud of.
“In my opinion, we’re a true mid-major. When I say that, I mean the kind of success we’ve had in our program, our fan base—we outdraw a lot of BCS schools here,” College of Charleston coach Doug Wojcik said. “So in that sense, it’s hard to get home games. Even when you potentially can get a decent series and say you have to go on the road, it may cost you $20,000 to $25,000. When you’re a mid-major, you have to manage that sort of a budget. So these are games I just couldn’t get otherwise.”
Wojcik is talking about early-season tournaments. The Cougars play in the Wooden Legacy in California Nov. 28-Dec. 1, opening with San Diego State, playing Creighton or Arizona State in the second round, and closing with another game against a quality opponent in a field that also includes Marquette, Miami, Cal State Fullerton and George Washington.
“Boy, those are good opportunities for us,” admitted Wojcik, who returns most of the team that went 24-11 last season and lost in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational. “It’s a big challenge and it puts a lot of pressure on a team. That’s why you always want to stay experienced and be an upperclassmen team. It really gives you a chance to win some of those games and help your RPI.”
Davidson has seen its Ratings Percentage Index benefit from ESPN Events tournaments in two of the past three seasons. The Wildcats beat Nebraska and Western Kentucky and lost to West Virginia in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off in 2010. Last year in Orlando, Davidson knocked off Vanderbilt and West Virginia before losing to Gonzaga in the final of the Old Spice Classic on the way to a 26-8 season that included an NCAA tournament appearance.
“You can’t put a price tag on how valuable that is to us, in terms of the way it prepared us for our Southern Conference experience, as well as for postseason play,” Davidson coach Bob McKillop said. “That was a sensational experience.”
McKillop, who must replace graduated big man Jake Cohen, plays in the Charleston Classic Nov. 21-24. Davidson opens against Georgia, plays either Temple or Clemson in the second round, and will close against another potential RPI-boosting team in a field that includes UAB, UMass, Nebraska and New Mexico. “We’ve been to Charleston, to Puerto Rico, then Orlando and now we’re back to Charleston,” McKillop said. “And in each case we’ve been able to play high-powered programs on neutral sites in environments that are attractive for our fans, attractive for our players. It’s sort of a laboratory for our season.”
Northeastern in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off and Siena in the Old Spice Classic are also in similar positions of facing several high-major teams on neutral floors. Added Wojcik about the opportunities such tournaments provide: “Gosh, as long as we stay even-keeled, positive, move on whether good or bad, I don’t know how it can’t prepare you for March.”
For the last four years, however, the conference has failed to achieve victory. The Big Ten has gone 3-0-1, including a resounding 8-4 thumping in 2011, its most lopsided win. This year, the ACC has called in some reinforcements to try and change its luck. The ACC’s addition of Syracuse, Pittsburgh (a participant in the Jimmy V Men’s Classic) and Notre Dame brings coaches Jim Boeheim, Jamie Dixon and Mike Brey to the sidelines. The trio holds a combined .574 winning percentage over the Big Ten, going a combined 39-29 over its current configuration.
The most formidable of the three is Boeheim, who has dominated the Big Ten, to the tune of a career 30-13 record (a .698 winning percentage). Brey, at 6-12, has not seen much of the conference and hasn’t really fared overly well, while Dixon’s exposure (3-4) is limited. But Brey and Dixon promise to pay dividends next season, when the Big Ten expands with the absorption of Maryland from the ACC and Rutgers from the Big East. Brey is 16-8 against the Big Ten’ers-to-be, having a .667 winning percentage against both Maryland (2-1) and Rutgers (12-6).
Dixon is winning at .700, with a combined 7-3 record. Throw in Boeheim’s 28-7 mark against the two schools—he’s been particularly harsh on the Scarlet Knights, with a career 26-5 record—and the ACC’s new kids are 88-34, a .721 success rate. Of the current Big Ten members, Michigan (7-4), who will play in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, Indiana (7-6), and Ohio State (5-2) have fared the best, while Penn State has struggled at 1-12.
Only Ohio State (4-2), Illinois (2-1), Minnesota (1-0) and Iowa (1-0) can claim a winning record against Boeheim. Indiana (1-0), Michigan (1-0), and Michigan State (1-0), have winning records against Dixon, while Michigan (3-0) and Indiana (5-2) have the lion’s share of the success over Brey. Penn State, Ohio State and Northwestern all 1-0, have each nicked Notre Dame’s head man for a loss.
In case this threesome can’t get the job done, the ACC will add further reinforcement next season when Louisville joins the fold. Louisville coach Rick Pitino is 25-9 against next year’s Big Ten, and is an impressive 10-4 against Big Ten heavyweights Indiana (6-4) and Ohio State (4-0). The only teams to get the better of Pitino are Purdue (1-3), a participant in the Old Spice Classic, and Iowa (1-2).
Duke will lean heavily on a transfer. Miami is counting on a transfer as it replaces five starters. Arizona State lost a key player to another school, but is gaining two transfers in return. Memphis won a key NCAA decision that allows a transfer to play this season. And many other schools are plugging holes with players who’ve transferred, many of whom bring gaudy numbers from their former schools. With transfers playing a big part in college basketball, it’s no surprise many will be featured in ESPN Events’ early-season tournaments. Here are 10 transfers to watch at these events:Rodney Hood, Duke: The Blue Devils enter the season with national title aspirations, and Hood’s versatility may be the key to their chances. The 6-foot-8 Mississippi native sat out last season after leaving Mississippi State following a coaching change. He averaged 10.3 points and 4.8 rebounds as a freshman. Hood will team up with Rasheed Sulaimon and incoming freshman Jabari Parker by playing multiple positions. Expect Hood to see time at both forward positions, shooting guard and even point. The Blue Devils will be leaning on Hood on Nov. 12 when they face Kansas in the State Farm Champions Classic in Chicago.
Tarik Black, Kansas: The Jayhawks also get immediate veteran help in Black (pictured), who graduated from Memphis in the spring and can play immediately. Black averaged 8.1 points and 4.8 rebounds, and shot nearly 59 percent from the field for the Tigers last season. Black and No. 1 recruit Andrew Wiggins give Kansas plenty of depth despite the loss of Ben McLemore to the NBA.
Michael Dixon, Memphis: The Tigers are celebrating the NCAA’s decision that made Dixon eligible to play this season. The 6-2 guard sat out last season at Missouri after being accused of sexual assault. (No charges were ever filed.) Dixon, who has one year of eligibility remaining, averaged 13.5 points and 3.3 assists two years ago, but will have to compete for playing time in a crowded backcourt for Memphis. The Tigers play in the Old Spice Classic (Nov. 28-Dec. 1) in Orlando and against Florida Dec. 17 in the Jimmy V Classic in New York.
Jermaine Marshall, Arizona State: While the Sun Devils lost guard Evan Gordon to Indiana, coach Herb Sendek snagged a transfer of his own to replace him. Marshall averaged 15.3 points a game at Penn State last season, and is eligible to play immediately after graduating. He’ll be paired with Jahii Carson in one of the Pac-12’s top backcourts. Arizona State also got transfer Brandan Kearney from Michigan State, but he’s ineligible until December, after the Sun Devils play in the Wooden Legacy (Nov. 28-Dec. 1).
Josh Davis, San Diego State: The 6-8 Davis, who averaged 17.6 points and 10.7 rebounds for Tulane last season, should provide coach Steve Fisher with instant offense. Davis, another graduate student with immediate eligibility, was one of the most sought-after transfers and spurned Gonzaga to join the Aztecs. After starting his career at North Carolina State, Davis considered turning pro but decided another year on the college stage would suit him best. He’ll get that spotlight in the Wooden Legacy (Nov. 28-Dec. 1).
Donnavan Kirk, Miami: Angel Rodriguez was supposed to be Miami’s top incoming transfer, but the Hurricanes decided not to appeal to the NCAA to make Rodriguez eligible immediately, in part because the ex-Kansas State guard has knee issues. He’ll play next season. Enter Kirk, who’s a familiar face in Coral Gables. He played in 17 games at Miami over two seasons before transferring to DePaul. The 6-9 forward averaged 6.2 points and 3.9 rebounds for the Blue Demons last season. He graduated from DePaul, so he’s eligible to play immediately. The Hurricanes, who lost all five starters, will need Kirk when they play in the Wooden Legacy (Nov. 28-Dec. 1).
Derrick Gordon, UMass: The last time we saw Gordon he was averaging 11.8 points and 6.7 rebounds for Western Kentucky’s NCAA tournament team in 2011-’12. The 6-2 Gordon left following a coaching change and wanted to be closer to his New Jersey home. Now he’s expected to play both backcourt positions for the Minutemen, who play in the Charleston Classic Nov. 21-24.
Terrance Shannon, VCU: Shannon might get a chance to play against his former team, Florida State, in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off (Nov. 21-24). The 6-8 Shannon is another graduate transfer who can play immediately. In a career plagued by injuries, he averaged 7.8 points and 5.6 rebounds for the Seminoles last season.
Ty Johnson, South Carolina: The 2011 MVP of the ESPN RISE high school tournament averaged just 3.3 points and 2 assists while starting nine of 32 games as a freshman at Villanova. But he’s expected to contribute immediately and play a leadership role on Frank Martin’s young team. The 6-foot-3 Johnson won’t be eligible to play until December, meaning the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic (Dec. 22-25) in Hawaii could be his first big test in a Gamecocks uniform.
Joshua Smith, Georgetown: It’s uncertain if the former UCLA big man will be eligible to play in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off (Nov. 21-24), but if he’s cleared he’ll be an intriguing player to watch. Highly touted out of high school, Smith was plagued by weight issues and averaged just 13 minutes a game before leaving the Bruins early last season. If Smith is fit and engaged—he’s listed as 6-10 and 350 pounds—he’ll provide a nearly immovable presence as the Hoyas rebuild their frontcourt.
Recommended reading: “Top impact transfers, remaining targets” by ESPN.COM’s Jeff Goodman
Boston College (16-17, 7-11, 8th)
7: The number of returning players with at least 20 starts. That’s the most of any team in the ACC. That includes sophomore guard Olivier Hanlan, last year’s ACC Freshman of the Year and junior forward Ryan Anderson, who rank two and three in the conference in returning points (Anderson also ranks third in returning rebounds). The Eagles are the only school to return its entire starting five and brings back 64.7 percent of its scoring, also a league-high — eight points more than the nearest school, Virginia (56.4).
Clemson (13-18, 5-13, 11th)
6-feet-6: The height of sophomore forward K.J. McDaniels, Clemson’s leading returning scorer and rebounder, who led the ACC in blocks last season (2.1 bpg). That made McDaniels the shortest player ever to lead the conference in blocks. He also became the first Clemson player since Sharone Wright in 1992-’93 to lead the ACC in blocks. He blocked at least one shot in 25 of the Tigers’ 28 games and his seven swats on Jan. 15 against Wake Forest were an ACC season-high. McDaniels’ dominance on the defensive end overshadowed that he also was fifth in the conference in most improved scoring average, boosting his output by 7.0 ppg (10.9 from 3.9). McDaniels gets to show his stuff in the Charleston Classic (Nov. 21-24).
Duke (30-6, 14-4, 2nd)
2: Junior point guard Quinn Cook’s rank in the ACC in assists (5.3 apg) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.41) last season for the Blue Devils, whose will play its second game of the season Nov. 12 in the State Farm Champions Classic. Cook is the leading returning scorer (11.7 ppg) and is one of two returning starters, with sophomore guard Rasheed Sulaimon (11.6 ppg) — the third-lowest total in the conference. Cook will try to orchestrate Duke’s stay in the AP top 10, which begins at an ACC-record 113 consecutive weeks, second all-time only to UCLA’s 155. Duke teams hold four of the ACC’s top five streaks for consecutive weeks being ranked in the top 10 (the last time the Blue Devils were not ranked in the AP Top 10 was in the Nov. 19, 2007 poll, in which they were 13th.).
Florida State (18-16, 9-9, 6th)
43: The team-high number of blocks by center Kiel Turpin last season. The redshirt senior, who debuted with FSU after transferring from Lincoln College (which he led to the NJCAA Division II National Championship as a sophomore) was a big reason why the Seminoles led the ACC in blocks and ranked 26th in the country with 5.1 bpg. Kiel is the son of the late Mel Turpin, who starred at Kentucky from 1985 through 1990 before playing five seasons in the NBA. You can get an early look at Turpin in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off (Nov. 21-24).
Georgia Tech (16-15, 6-12, 9th)
6: In 2012-13, Georgia Tech became the sixth team in ACC history to have freshmen finish as their top two scorers. Forwards Marcus Georges-Hunt (10.8 ppg) and Robert Carter, Jr. (9.9) led the way for the Yellow Jackets, who started only one senior and had a five-win improvement over the previous season. Georges-Hunt and Carter, who spent part of their off-season with USA Basketball’s U19 Training Camp, also ranked first and third on the Jackets in rebounding last season, with Carter leading the team with 6.7 rpg and Georges-Hunt pulling 4.9.
*Maryland (25-13, 8-10, 7th)
14: The number of years prior to last season that one team led the ACC in both field goal percentage defense and rebounding margin. The Terps did that in 2012-’13, holding opponents to .385 shooting, while outrebounding them by 8.6 per game. Maryland grabbed more rebounds than its opponents in 35 of 38 games. They’ll need to replace leading rebounder Alex Len (7.1 rpg), but sophomore forward Charles Mitchell (5.4 rpg) should go a long way to doing that. Junior guard/forward Dez Wells and 6-9 forward Evan Smotrycz, a transfer from Michigan, is a 41.4 percent three-point shooter, also will work in the paint.
Miami (29-7, 15-3, 1st)
Zero: The number of starters returning from last year’s ACC Tournament Champion (which is part of the eight-team field in November’s Wooden Legacy tournament). Senior guard Rion Brown, who averaged 6.4 ppg last year, is the leading returning scorer for the Hurricanes, who lost their top six scorers from a year ago and return only 13 percent of their scoring. Reigning Coach of the Year Jim Larranaga’s squad was picked to finish fourth by ACC coaches in the preseason poll and fifth by the media.
*Maryland will be leaving the ACC following the 2014 season.
Jimmy Patsos (pictured) has a spotlight on him, and only a handful of coaches around the country know how he feels. The former head coach at Loyola (Md.) is now the head man at Siena, replacing Mitch Buonaguro. One of the most difficult duties of coaches whose teams play in ESPN Events' early-season tournaments is scouting the opposition. There's plenty of player turnover on nearly every team from a season ago. And there are just a few game tapes from this season to develop a game plan. It's even more difficult if you're facing a school with a new coach. While the number of coaching changes this past offseason was down from previous years, there are still 46 Division I schools with new staffs. Four of those teams, including Patsos', play in ESPN Events' tournaments. Here's a look at the new guys:Butler: The move nobody—except Boston Celtics president Danny Ainge—saw coming. When Ainge nabbed Brad Stevens to be the Celtics' new coach, NBA observers were stunned. So was the college basketball world. The Bulldogs moved quickly to promote assistant Brandon Miller, who had just been hired in April after spending a year on Illinois' staff. The 34-year-old Miller, a Butler graduate in his first head coaching job, convinced the six incoming freshmen to stay at the school.
That's important because Butler has just two seniors and top returning scorer and rebounder Roosevelt Jones is out for the season with an injured wrist. Miller, who spent six years as an assistant under former Butler coach Thad Matta at Ohio State, was able to get some extra work with his team this summer during a 10-day, four-game trip to Australia. But that's also when Roosevelt was injured.
Miller, who opened practice last weekend, faces a challenge, and then some. Not only are the Bulldogs moving to the Big East this season, they play in the stacked Old Spice Classic Nov. 28-Dec. 1. Butler opens against Washington State in an event that includes Memphis, Oklahoma State, Saint Joseph's, LSU, Purdue and Siena.
Cal State Fullerton: Dedrique Taylor is another first-year head coach. Taylor replaced interim coach Andy Newman, who had taken over for Bob Burton. Taylor had worked as an assistant at Arizona State since Herb Sendek was hired there in 2006. Before that, the 39-year-old Taylor was on the staffs at Nevada, Portland State, Loyola Marymount and UC Davis, where he played.
Known as an elite recruiter with ties to the Los Angeles area, Taylor will try to stockpile talent in Fullerton and improve a team that went 14-18 overall last season, including 6-12 in the Big West. Not only is it a homecoming of sorts for the Pomona, Calif., native, Taylor could face his old boss in the Wooden Legacy Nov. 28-Dec. 1. The Titans are set to play Marquette in the first round on Thanksgiving, but also in the field is Sendek and Arizona State. The rest of the tournament includes College of Charleston, Creighton, George Washington, Miami and San Diego State.
New Mexico: The guy with the best nickname of all the new coaches around the country has to be Craig "Noodles" Neal. The 49-year-old was promoted when Steve Alford left for UCLA. Neal, a close friend of Alford, had worked under him at Iowa and for the past six seasons at New Mexico. Neal, who was a finalist a year ago for the head job at his alma mater, Georgia Tech, will take over a Lobos program on the rise. Neal lost Tony Snell early to the NBA, but reigning Mountain West player of the year Kendall Williams is back for his senior season. All-conference second team center Alex Kirk returns, too, from a club that went 29-6 last season.
Neal and the Lobos head East to play in the Charleston Classic Nov. 21-24 on the South Carolina coast. New Mexico plays UAB in the first round. Other teams in the event include Clemson, Davidson, Georgia, UMass, Nebraska and Temple. Oh, and why is Neal called "Noodles?" It comes from his skinny frame when he was a high school star in Muncie, Ind. When he joined Bobby Cremins' team at Georgia Tech as a freshman, he was 6-foot-5 and just 160 pounds.
Siena: The guy with the best press conferences of all the new hires around the country may be Jimmy Patsos. The always colorful Patsos left his head coaching job at Loyola (Md.) when he was offered the Siena position in the offseason. He replaces Mitch Buonaguro, who was fired after the Saints tied a school record for losses in a season by going 8-24 in 2012-13.
The move also allows the 47-year-old Patsos to stay in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. His old school, Loyola, is moving to the Patriot League. He took some heat for his bizarre coaching decision against Davidson's Stephen Curry nearly five years ago. But sometimes lost among the bombastic sideline rants is how he turned around a Greyhounds team that was coming off a 1-27 season when he arrived and made it a regular contender in the MAAC. Patsos reached the NCAA tournament in 2012 and last season's team went 23-12.
Patsos got a look at his new squad when it played exhibition games in Montreal this summer. But the competition will get tougher quickly. The Saints will open against Memphis in the Old Spice Classic on Thanksgiving. No matter the result, you might want to stick around for his postgame comments.
The University of Akron basketball team held its first practice of the 2013-’14 season last Friday. Led by 54-year-old coach Keith Dambrot, a 1982 graduate of the school, the two-time defending Mid-American Conference regular-season champions—only the third team in 30 years to earn that honor—personify that dangerous mid-major that flies under the radar, ready to pounce on an unassuming powerhouse foe. For the last eight seasons, Akron has won at least 20 games, one of 15 teams nationwide to do so. With Dambrot at the helm, it's the third-longest active streak of 20-win seasons among mid-major coaches (in 2004-'05 the team just missed the cut, winning 19). Last season, Dambrot earned MAC Coach of the Year after leading his alma mater to a school-record 26 wins, to MAC regular season and tournament championships, and to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years and the third time in five (the school has a total of four NCAA Tournament appearances). Ironically, the Zips were eliminated by VCU, which is coached by Shaka Smart, Dambrot’s assistant at Akron from 2003 through ’06. Akron knows what it has in Dambrot, who signed a 10-year contract in 2012, and received a one-year extension last month, taking him through the 2022-'23 season. A day before that first practice, Dambrot took time to talk with ESPN Events, touching on the tradition of Akron basketball, and the opportunity to play in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.
Dambrot: We feel pretty good about our team. We’ve got eight guys that have played, and then we’ve got five talented new guys. So we’ll just try to put them all together and attack our weaknesses at this point.
Q: Do you see an advantage in the NCAA’s the new rules allowing more days to practice, even if the number of hours remains the same?
Dambrot: I like it better because I always felt like we were always rushing to get everything in before the first game, to make sure that we could play against the zone and we could play against full-court pressure. I felt like it was a constant rush. I like it this way because you’ve got more weeks to kind of figure it all out, and it’s not as much of a constant rush.
Q: You need to replace Zeke Marshall, the MAC’s Defensive Player of the Year and the school’s all-time leading shot-blocker. Who are you looking at to pick up the slack?
Dambrot: We felt like we kind of stifled [sophomore] Pat Forsythe’s development a little last year because, as the season went on, Zeke played better and better and better and we didn’t give Pat as many minutes. But we thought early in the season, when we were giving him minutes that he played pretty well. So we feel like Pat can help us defensively. We also have two good young kids behind him; we have a big 6-9 ½, 300-pounder, Isaiah Johnson, who’s a freshman, and we have another 6-9, 235-pounder, Kwan Cheatham, also a freshman. So we feel like we’ve got good size in there, which has been a big advantage for us. We still have [senior Demetrius “Tree”] Treadwell at the big forward spot and [senior Nick] Harney behind him, who averaged 10 points a game. Harney will end up, at the beginning, playing that small forward spot, but he’ll also play behind Treadwell. So we’re still a pretty big team.
Q: What’s been the key to keeping Akron so successful during your tenure?
Dambrot: We’ve had good players. We’ve kind of taken an old-school approach. So I think from that perspective we’ve had good success because of that, but we’re smart enough to know it’s about the players. Over the last nine years the worst season we’ve had was our first, and that was 19-10. So we’ve won over 20 games for the last eight years. The majority of our team is four-year players—we’ve only taken one junior college player—so we’ve been able to keep guys for four years. We’ve built a winning culture here, and I think the guys that wore the uniform before these guys kind of teach the new ones how we win here.
Q: You have the most 20-win seasons and the most consecutive 20-win seasons in school history. You’re also the first Akron coach to have this many consecutive 20-win seasons since Bob Huggins coached the Zips. How do you see your place in school history?
Dambrot: Bob’s a great coach, obviously. I know Coach [Dan] Hipsher had three good years here. So we’re proud of those guys and what they’ve done. Over the last nine years, what our program’s accomplished has been to make Akron a really good mid-major program. What we’re trying to do now is not only sustain our success but take the next step. Those stages are hard to accomplish. You just have to continue to do things the right way to achieve all your goals.
Q: There are a lot of Akron alumni on the coaching staff. As an alumnus, how important is it to bring back former Zips who are familiar with the tradition?
Dambrot: We base everything on trust, loyalty and commitment. When you really look at it, other than Dan Peters, who is older than I am, every one of these guys has played for me at one point or another. We have coach [Terry] Weigand and coach [Charles] Thomas and Rick McFadden. Our [graduate assistants] were either managers or players for us. So we’ve kind of taken care of our own. That’s huge when you go out and recruit, because it’s kind of an extended family that we’ve gone out and created. It goes back all the way to when I was an assistant at Eastern Michigan and Charles played for us. So it’s not just one school. It’s been multiple schools. I think that kind of shows where you put your values.
Q: The Zips will play in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic (Dec. 22-25). How important is it for the program to get exposure by participating in these early season tournaments?
Dambrot: It’s huge. Last year we played in Puerto Rico and played well [the team went 2-1, beating UNC Asheville and Penn State, losing to Oklahoma State]. This year we’re at Diamond Head. Just to be able to get those guys on a neutral floor is big. Last year we played the 59th-best out-of-conference schedule in the country, and this year’s schedule is even better. Getting on television is a key to recruiting, so we’re on television quite a bit. We go to St. Mary’s and to South Carolina and to Middle Tennessee and to Cleveland State. So we’ve got a really hard schedule.
Q: Among your most successful assistants to move on to major conference jobs is VCU head coach Shaka Smart. Did you know he was going to be as successful a head coach as he’s been?
Dambrot: I knew he was special, there’s no question about that. In a different kind of way I compare him a little bit to when I had LeBron [James, who Dambrot coached at Akron’s St. Vincent-St. Mary High School]. You can kind of tell those guys that are special. So we’ve had Shaka and then Jeff Boals at Ohio State and Lamont Paris move on to Wisconsin. So we’ve had some good coaches here. We have some good coaches here now. I thought Shaka had a lot of traits that were going to get him the right opportunity and allow him to become a star.
"10" FOR TOUGHNESS: Will Long Beach State face formidable opponents in its non-conference schedule this season? Without a doubt, maintains ESPN.com’s Myron Medcalf, who rated the 49ers’ non-conference schedule a “10” on the “Toughness Scale.” Medcalf writes that the program “will face national title contender Arizona on the road in early November.” The 49ers open the Puerto Rico Tip-Off with a matchup against Michigan, another national title contender. The tourney also includes VCU and Georgetown. Big East title favorite Creighton travels to the West Coast for a matchup in early December. The slate ends with a matchup against Missouri in Columbia. Now that's a non-conference schedule.
HIGH HOPES FOR VCU: Which teams have the most to prove this season? VCU is in the top 10, according to ESPN's Eamonn Brennan. “Word out of Richmond is that this may well be Shaka Smart’s most talented team,” wrote Brennan about the Rams, which will be competing in the 2013 Puerto Rico Tip-Off.
SEMINOLE STANDOUT: The Sporting News lavished high praise on Florida State senior Okaro White, who was featured in the publication’s college basketball preview. White, who was featured on the cover of the magazine, is “precisely the sort of player head coach Leonard Hamilton has relied upon to build the Seminoles’ program: rangy, athletic, and willing to defend and block shots, all while steadily improving his polish,” noted the editors. “His ability to punish opponents inside and occasionally on the perimeter ensures that he’ll be a centerpiece as a senior.”
100 YEARS OF BASKETBALL IN PUERTO RICO: Led by Northeastern great Jose Juan Barea, Puerto Rico’s national team finished second in the 2013 FIVB Americas Championships in Caracas, Venezuela. Barea, the Northeastern standout from 2002-2006 who is coming off a career year with the Minnesota Timberwolves, led Puerto Rico to the championship game Sept. 11 in the 2013 FIVB Americas Championships in Caracas, Venezuela. Barea, who has scored 140 points and 38 assists in helping Puerto Rico to a 6-3 record in the tournament, dropped a 91-89 decision to Mexico in the finals after advancing to the finals with a 79-67 win over the Dominican Republic. By advancing to the “final four”, Puerto Rico earned a spot in the 2014 World Cup in Spain.
BUILDING A "LEGACY": Led by Doug McDermott of Creighton and Jahii Carson of Arizona State, SportingNews.com highlighted several players and teams that will be participating in the 2013 Wooden Legacy. McDermott was named a first-team pre-season All-American while Carson was named to the second-team. The site noted that McDermott “will be everyone’s preseason Big East Player of the Year." Carson deserves the honor. Some might initially question his ability to produce eye-popping numbers outside of the Missouri Valley Conference, but those questions won’t last long.
As for the top players by position, Marquette’s four players scheduled to compete in the 2013 Wooden Legacy were listed. In addition to McDermott (the top power forward) and Carson (the No. 4 point guard), Marquette’s Jamil Wilson and Davante Gardner were the 10th-rated power forward and center, respectively. San Diego State senior Xavier Thames was featured on the publication’s regional inset. The Sporting News ranked Thamas as “one of the Mountain West’s top-10 players and senior classmate Josh Davis as one of the league’s top-10 newcomers. Coach Steve Fisher, who is considered one of the conference’s top-5 coaches, also brings in the 66th-best recruiting class nationally. Fisher’s incoming class is two deep and ranks 10th nationally among groups featuring two players or less.”
CHARLESTON CHALLENGE: The 2013-'14 Charleston schedule features a season-opening game at Louisville and three games at the Wooden Legacy. Eight other opponents advanced to postseason play a year ago, including San Diego State (Charleston’s first-round Wooden Legacy foe). The Cougars will play either Arizona State or Creighton in their second Wooden Legacy game. “It is a great schedule, especially when you have the defending national champions on the road in Louisville and the defending ACC champions at home in Miami [also a possible Wooden Legacy foe on Dec. 1],” said coach Doug Wojcik. “We will also be tested early with tournament games out in Anaheim with San Diego State and Creighton or Arizona State in the next game as well as Marquette and Miami on the other side of the bracket.”
But don't forget about the sophomores. In an era where many of the nation's top players turn pro after one season, there's an intriguing crop of second-year players who could have a major impact in who walks away with the national title next spring.
Fortunately, you'll be able to see a number of them in ESPN Events' early-season tournaments. Here are the top five sophomores to watch:
5. Duke G Rasheed Sulaimon: The 6-foot-4 shooting guard not only contributed 11.6 points a game, but he became Duke's top perimeter defender as a freshman. Now that reinforcements are on the way in Parker and Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood, Sulaimon could give opponents headaches on how to defend the Blue Devils. See how Kansas fares on Nov. 12 at the United Center.
4. Kentucky F Alex Poythress: The 6-7 Tennessee native came to college with plenty of hype, and disappointed some by averaging just 11.2 points and 6 rebounds as a freshman (despite shooting 58 percent from the field and 42 percent from three-point range). Now with Kentucky's big freshmen class on the way, Poythress will have to perform to get playing time. You'll get a chance to see how he responds on Nov. 12.
3. Michigan F Mitch McGary: The Indiana native carried Michigan to the national title game with a breakout NCAA Tournament. The 6-10 McGary only started two games before he reached another level in the NCAAs. McGary had 25 points and 14 rebounds in a Sweet 16 victory over Kansas. He added 10 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in a Final Four win over Syracuse. Despite projections he'd be a first-round pick, the 21-year-old returned to school. He and the Wolverines will play in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Nov. 21-24.
2. Arizona State G Jahii Carson: With Allen Iverson-like fearlessness in driving the lane and a freshman school-record 177 assists, the 5-10 Carson was co-freshman of the year in the Pac-12 last season. Carson led all freshman in the nation at 18.5 points a game. Carson will be one of the most fun players to watch this season, and you'll get a chance to see the speedy guard play in the Wooden Legacy Nov. 28-Dec. 1.
1. Oklahoma State G Marcus Smart: There was disbelief at first when the reigning Big 12 player of the year announced he'd return for his sophomore season. Then pundits immediately began moving the Cowboys higher in their preseason polls. Smart, who was projected as a top-five NBA draft pick, brings scoring (15.4 points), toughness (5.7 rebounds), passing (4.2 assists) and quickness (2.9 steals) to a team that will challenge Kansas for the Big 12 title. Watch Smart play three early-season games in the Old Spice Classic Nov. 28-Dec. 1.
It all starts in November, with the Champions Classic, Charleston Classic, Puerto Rico Tip-Off, Old Spice Classic, Wooden Legacy and Jimmy V Classic. By December -- when the Diamond Head Classic tips, fans should be well versed on the new rules intended to clear up past problems.
While the rules committee didn't vote on a proposal to reduce the 35-second shot clock, there was a significant change involving the block-charge, considered one of the most difficult calls officials make.
Defensive players will no longer be able to slide into the path of a player with the ball in an attempt to draw a charge once he has "started his upward motion" to pass or shoot. If the player is not set before the player begins that motion and leaves his feet, it will be a block.
The NCAA rules panel believes the tweak will allow more offensive freedom and "enhance the balance between offense and defense."
"We think this will allow the officials to make the call correctly and perhaps increase the scoring," St. Peter's coach and rules committee chairman John Dunne told ESPN.com senior writer Andy Katz.
Officials are also being told to crack down on existing rules for hand-checking and extended arms on defense in hopes of opening up the game. Points per game have dipped in each of the last four seasons. The 67.5 average of a season ago is the lowest since the 1981-’82 season.
Meanwhile, officials will also get more leeway in dealing with elbow fouls. Referees can go to the video monitor to determine if contact was made above the shoulders. If not, the foul can be rescinded. A flagrant foul can also be downgraded to a common foul. Players, however, can still be ejected for what is called a "flagrant 2" foul for intentional elbows landed above the shoulders.
And, get ready for more replay. Officials will now be able to check the video in the final two minutes of regulation and overtime to determine who last touched a ball that went out of bounds and if there was shot-clock violation. This is similar to the current NBA rule.
Referees will also be allowed to check the replay to determine who committed a foul, not just who the free-throw shooter should be. A smaller change will allow officials to stop the game with under four minutes remaining in regulation and overtime to determine if a made shot was a two- or three-pointer, rather than waiting until the next timeout.
There's also a significant rule change in the women's game, which will come into play when Connecticut visits Duke on Dec. 17 in the Jimmy V Classic. For the first time, there will be a 10-second backcourt rule. Previously in women's basketball, teams could keep the ball in the backcourt for the entire 30-second shot clock.
Not only will players have to adjust how they play. You, the fan, will also have to adjust the way you watch.