Saturday, June 13, 2015

Around the Block: June 12

Jun. 8

  • In case you haven't heard the NCAA made several rule changes to both the men's and women's game with the intent of "improving the pace of play" and reducing the "physicality of the sport" (because we need more of that). The bulk of the rule changes:
    • 30-second shot clock. This is the big one and will certainly affect some offenses next season (I'm looking at you, Tony Bennett). The NIT experimented with this and a couple other modifications this season, though the results showed no significant increase in points or pace of play. Does more shots necessarily mean more ball control? At least we'll have five less seconds of false motion and aimless dribbling, but it shouldn't affect most teams and certainly won't affect VMI, even if Earl slows it down a tad.
    • Restricted arc 4 feet from basket. It used to be three feet out, as NCAA officials are now trying to reduce the number of collisions near the basket. Data does show that moving the arc a foot farther out will decrease the number of block/charge plays.
    • No faking fouls. Or "flopping", as the NBA would call it. Refs can penalize players who do so.
    • A timeout called within 30 sec. of scheduled break will change to a media TO. This one is very convenient because it eliminates the old "coach calls a timeout with 16:02 left in the half and the media timeout comes three seconds later so you wait 2 minutes to watch three seconds of basketball" play.
    • Teams carry 3 timeouts into 2nd half. Used to be four. This one was designed with the intent of making the last several minutes of a game shorter, but I don't see it accomplishing that goal. For one, having two timeouts to kill in the first half just encourages coaches to waste them for set plays in the final minute, and second, it would be reasonable to assume that coaches would save at least a couple timeouts for the last two minutes, meaning there are still 4-5 TOs to be called down the stretch, as opposed to 6-7 otherwise. So it doesn't really do anything other than concentrate the timeouts towards the latter part of each half.
    • Coach cannot call a live ball TO. This one makes sense because oftentimes if a player is fighting for a loose ball and has only partial control a coach could jump to the rescue and call a timeout to bail him out. Now, only players can call timeout during live ball situations, putting more pressure on them to know when to do so.
    • There were several other tweaks: players have just 10 seconds total to advance the ball past half-court, hanging on the rim is a one-shot technical (used to be two), no more five-second closely guarded rule on a player dribbling the ball, etc. And you can now dunk during warm-ups (which I never knew was banned, and apparently neither did some of our players).
Jun. 12
  • NJIT has announced their plans to join the Atlantic Sun Conference for all sports, meaning the NCAA now has no independent institutions in Division I basketball. The Highlanders had been independent the last two seasons and gained notoriety by stunning then-ranked Michigan on the road this past season. They went on to win 21 games and reached the semifinals of the CIT (sound familiar?) As we know, Mercer and ETSU left the A-Sun to join the SoCon last year, and with the departure of Northern Kentucky to the Horizon League in July the league is in quite a rut. This was a desperate move for a conference that still has only eight members, some of which have been rumored to be seeking SoCon or Big South membership.
Jun. 11
Jun. 5
  • Chuck Driesell, former Citadel HC, has chosen a new new job as the head coach of Maret High School in Washington, D.C.  Driesell initially signed up to be an assistant at San Jose State following his firing at El Cid but chose to come back east. It makes sense - Driesell has D.C./Maryland roots, SJSU's coach might have one year left, and it's a much safer job. Maret, a very elite and expensive private school, went 22–5 last season and has their 6'8 All-Met start returning as well. Driesell is in a much better position there than with the Spartans.
  • Evan Taylor, Samford's freshman guard who averaged 6.4 PPG last season, will be transferring next season, per Jeff Goodman's NCAA transfer list. He is now the third Bulldog this year to be transferring out, but Samford does have two coming in - 6'9 sophomore Alex Thompson of Auburn and 6'5 junior Iman Johnson of UMES. Both averaged under 4 PPG, but Thompson will be a force to reckon with in the much weaker SoCon.
  • ETSU has picked up Hanner Mosquera-Perea, a 6'9 junior who averaged 6.5 points and 4.3 rebounds for Indiana last season. Huge pickup for the Bucs who are in need of some versatility after losing Reshawn Rembert and Jalen Riley to graduation.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Kreider, Slay named assistants; Thompson out

A couple orders of business.

First, it has been known for several days now that the second of two assistants hired to Coach Earl's staff will be Chris Kreider.
Kreider comes from George Mason, where he spent the past four seasons working under head coach Paul Hewitt. Kreider was not retained when Hewitt was fired last March. His connections with Hewitt date even earlier than that, as he spent time with Georgia Tech as a volunteer assistant. Between Tech and Mason, he was an assistant at Georgia Southern for two years, so he has some experience with the Southern Conference. Kreider played college basketball as a small forward for three colleges: Mansfield Univ., Grove City College, and Lebanon Valley College, all in Pennsylvania. He graduated the latter in 2003.

In a surprising turn of events, reported last Monday that Ben Thompson, our other assistant and the only holdover from the Duggar era, will not be retained next season. Instead, according to the report , Coach Earl will hire Jason Slay, who was an assistant at ETSU this past season.

Brief bio on Slay: he was formerly the Director of Basketball Operations at Georgia Southern (making two former Eagles on this staff), and a former assistant coach at Hargrave Military Academy (making two former Tigers on this staff). He played college ball at West Virginia State, and has a deep heritage of basketball in his family.

I was not at all anticipating at all that Thompson would leave; he was a fervent recruiter and seemed to be very active in the VMI community. I cannot tell if it was a mutual decision, or if Thompson decided this wasn't the gig for him. Or, most likely, Coach Earl decided to go full rebuild-mode, which I completely understand. With all three assistants now determined I anticipate an official announcement by the school within the next several days.

It is truly a fresh start for Keydet basketball.