Thursday, May 23, 2013

Keep Your Hands Off of the College Game, Dick.

I caught the third half of NBA basketball that I've watched all season was entertaining, but it wasn't basketball.

The Pacers gave the Heat all they could handle before Bron Bron made an astoundingly-athletic play to lay the ball in before the clock hit triple zero.  The things James can do with a basketball in his hands, whether dribbling or traveling are astounding.  He'd be the best tight end in the NFL right now if he would have chosen to do so; the guy is a freak.  I'm not diminishing his athleticism, or anyone else's for that matter, in the NBA- they're amazing athletes...that's probably part of the reason I hate the NBA so much...These guys don't need any more help.

Things like giving the ball to the offense on the other side of half court after a timeout has been called following a basket show the silliness of the game.  If a team allows their opposition to score and a second or two is remaining, they should have to work to get the ball up the court...not be awarded with the ball in the position to score easily. You already know that I can't stand the NBA if you come here very the thought of college basketball moving closer and closer to that game simply pains me.

As I watched tonight, I was reminded how much more I like college basketball.  Don't get me wrong, there's plenty wrong with the game...but I blame most of that on the NBA and people like Dick Vitale who are incessantly insisting that the NCAA continues to take steps toward the NBA game.

Crappy, inconsistent, overly-demonstrative officiating is something NBA players and teams have to deal with; it's a way of life, and its a monster that they've allowed, if not encouraged, to grow out of control. The fact that I know the name of three or four NBA officials, in itself says a lot; I'm not sure if I know the names of the starting five on the team from my hometown.  The asshats in gray shirts with black sleeves love being part of the story...and their little brothers, Hightower, Burr, Valentine and others love getting lathered up with a good home crowd.  Rather or not any of them realize it, NO ONE came to see them do their job and I truly wish we didn't know who they are (professionally, anyway).

If you've watched a game with Vitale swallowing the mic, you've heard the names of the officials as he reminds us how Valentine (or someone else who is awful at his job) is one of the best in the game.  No, he's really not, but it's not surprising that Vitale likes his style. While Vitale calls college games, he lusts for college basketball to become whatever sport the NBA has become.

Everything about the NBA takes too long. The season is about 20 games too long, the playoffs take too long and should have never been extended...and the game itself is excruciatingly-long. Game stoppages are more common than action.  One of the stoppages that Vitale wants to be brought down into the college game is the jump ball after each tie-up.  The possession arrow has been a part of college basketball for over 30 years. It's not perfect, but it keeps the game moving, and maybe more so, it's not an NBA rule, so I'm a fan of it.  Also, the possession arrow favors good fundamentals.  For instance, if a big man holds the ball up high, he's generally not going to get tied up by a smaller player.  In this scenario, the NBA rule will reward the taller guy with an easy jump over a smaller player for bringing the ball down.  Also, if a guy gives up his dribble too early, there should be a consequence; the tie-up is one of those consequences.

Now, the NCAA has a real problem in the simple fact that offensive players aren't allowed to stand their ground.  Often, the defender will accost and beat-up an offensive player in an effort to get the tie-up forcing that player to try to break free. Officials need to blow the whistle on the initial contact. If a defender can't make the play cleanly, it's a foul; pretty simple.  Afterall, basketball was once a game that didn't require pads beneath the unis.  But the NBA has already filtered down too much to the college game.  We need less of that, not more like Vitale insists upon.

So we already have a game that that allows too much banging 25 feet away from the basket, let alone in the paint...but that's not enough for Dukie V.  He also wants the NCAA to have six fouls like the league:

"I am sick and tired of seeing star players getting whistled for two quick fouls and then winding up on the sideline. Nothing against the officials that are out there doing their job, but there were too many times this past season where stars were sitting because coaches were afraid they would get a third foul in the first half."
Did you catch that? His premise says a lot about what he thinks about college basketball.  He thinks it's about the star players...not about the team.  He wants it to be about the individual; isolation plays, one-on-ones...that's what college fans want, right? Not really. I'd argue that even the majority of fans of teams like Kentucky and other NBA mills are still there to watch their squad, not just individuals. Sure foul trouble hurts, but this argument is a bit like a political argument in which we should make everything legal because the jails are too crowded. This type of thinking has large consequences and really doesn't address the root of the problem.  PLUS, and more obvious, the college game is 40 minutes long...the NBA game is 48 minutes long.  I wasn't a math major.  But I can tell you with a decent amount of confidence that both games give every player one foul for every 8 minutes played.  Seems pretty fair, no?

Vitale continues his asinine argument by saying this sixth foul is needed because the game is more physical than it used to be.  Finally, we agree on something...BUT, giving the players another foul isn't the answer- calling the game consistently and less like an NBA game would cure this problem.

Another thing that Dukie V wants to see changed is he wants the shot clock to be changed from 35 to 30 seconds.  Once again, this takes college basketball another step toward the NBA game; a place that people like me don't want to see it go. His argument is that offensive efficiency needs to be improved.  The theory is of course flawed because a rushed shot isn't a better shot...But really, this is another rule that would greatly favor the teams that have superstars.  Setting up a play and moving the ball isn't what Vitale wants.  He wants more running, less discipline, less team basketball and more one-on-one matchups.

All of that is great in the NBA. There are 30 teams in the NBA, drafts, salary caps, and contracts have a way of creating parity*. But in the NCAA, you have small athletic departments competing with much larger ones. Butler's budgets are no where near that of Kentucky, UConn...or even Purdue.  But they still have to play these teams...and guys like Brad Stevens use their brains to try to offset the clear talent disparity; and it works.  Many of Vitale's proposed changes move the college game toward the murky waters of a one-on-one game.  Most players had plenty of that style in AAU ball; the really good ones will get to play it again in the league. Talent will always be king, but the reason Cinderella exists at all is generally because of tremendous coaching.

Oh yeah, one more thing Vitale wants- he wants every college basketball player to be paid.  Perrrrrrrfect. At the very least, he's consistent- Consistently moronic and ironic.  Vitale perpetually defends guys like Calipari and Calhoun who break NCAA rules like they breath...Coach Vitale, memo: Many of the teams that are loaded with the superstars and diaper dandies that you love so much already pay their players, baby!  I guess in his world, his pals could stop living a lie; so that'd be nice for them.

Vitale yells about how college basketball is the greatest game in the world, YET, he's trying his damnedest to make college basketball into the game that used to be basketball in the NBA.

The NCAA would be wise to do as so many of us have continually done whenever Vitale is speaking, and hit the mute button.

*When Stern isn't making exceptions to certain trades and blocking others


Kodiak33 said...

The main problem I have with paying players, is that it would destroy the smaller schools (such as Butler). There's no way they can afford to give them scholarships and pay them. It won't be just basketball, it would have to be football, track, etc.

If you want to see college sports destroyed, pay the players.

Rob Henry is one guy that I couldn't follow anymore on Twitter because he's was trying to be one of the leaders to try to get the players paid in the NCAA (I think this was last year).

Cato said...

I think the NCAA could allow players to profit from their image. It is ludicrous that Nike, adidas, and the rest can profit from a player ("fear the brow") but the individual player gets none of that.

boilerdowd said...

Do you know any guys that play college basketball? They get quite a bit out of the deal. I know what NCAA rules say about how much free gear they're supposed to get, but they do OK in the deal. PLUS, just as in Title IX, many schools sign full-campus shoe deals (like Purdue), so while basketball and football are great stages for product and the companies make money, softball, tennis, cross country and the like don't make money.

I really can't stand the argument that players are being exploited- a good friend of mine left Boston College with $0 in loans and a BC education...currently, he works in the Pats organization- a job he would have never gotten had he not gone to BC and played football. During his Sophomore year, he told me that he should be paid for playing football. At that point, I was paying student loans and trying to pay rent in the Boston area...couldn't swallow the idea then, can't swallow it today.

zlionsfan said...

The rule changes that were passed a couple of weeks ago don't necessarily address too much of this, but the one thing that will wasn't exactly a change, but more of a focus: refs will be told to enforce the rules against defensive contact instead of letting Wisconsin-style basketball go unchallenged. If the NCAA pushes refs on this, we might actually see the game we liked again ... but that means getting old-school refs to change what they call, and that's always a challenge. (Not a bad thing if they were good in the first place ... perhaps not a good thing in college basketball.)

I'm beginning to think that the sport has simply grown beyond the ability of people in general to officiate it accurately. There are just too many things to watch in too many different places. I'd suggest that another official might help, but I doubt there are enough experienced officials to increase all DI crews by one third.

WinamacBoiler said...

Dowd - I hear you on the BC football guy, but I'm not sure that's representative of the majority. Disparity of college ACADEMIC reputations and costs makes this a unique problem. For example, if you weren't going pro in basketball, would you rather get a degree from Princeton worth 40k plus 10k in living expenses (total value 250k if you redshirt), or would you rather get one from say Purdue (20k total per year - 100k total value).

I honestly never understood the whole "play a collegiate sport at a D1 public school because golly gee I can't afford to be educated any other way" argument. I worked at Texas Roadhouse 35-40 hours per week, graduated in 4 years, partied my ass off, and left with no academic related debt (I left with some credit card, but that was Harry's - my own damn fault.)

I guess all I'm saying is that if I'm going to work 40-50 hours per week at a job, I'm going to make damn sure it's for $50k/year at a good private school. Otherwise you'll make more money just getting a regular job and going to class.

Benjamin said...

I defended the NBA in these here comments a couple of weeks ago... and I'm totally on board with what you are saying here. How's that?

All the stuff Vitale wants to bring from the NBA are the things NBA diehards are constantly saying needs to be fixed. No one likes the mid-court out-of-bounds rule, the overlong reg season, all the timeouts coaches are allowed, favoritism and showboating by some refs, blatant traveling, etc. The diehards just find that stuff doesn't override - at least for the best teams in the playoffs - real basketball from winning out. For all the meddling done by Stern and his crew, Miami didn't win a championship their first year together because they hadn't learned how to play as a team. Now D-Wade knows his role (a dirty-playing second fiddle to Bron), their offensive spacing approaches Spurs territory, and they've developed a blitzing style of team defense. Or put it this way - Stern cringes every year Pop takes the Spurs this far.

Plus, to your credit, I also despise Dick V.

U-P Boiler said...

The first mistake is even having the sound on when Dick Vitale is on the tube. He was a shitty coach (gosh, ANOTHER guy who couldn't cut it as a coach now on ESPN claiming to know what he's doing)and he really has no interest except creating talk for himself.

As much as I find Bobby Knight distasteful, I'd rather hear him or another coach who actually won some games talking about basketball.

If somebody poked out Dick's GOOD eye, he'd still prattle on as if he knew what was going on.

conk said...

Take away half the timeouts, allow hockey-style substitutions on the fly, and call intentional fouls late in the game when they are intentional. These changes could save my basketball fanhood, especially when Purdue is down. Who's with me?

Benjamin said...

I don't know about the substitutions or intentional fouls, but the timeout situation is a serious flaw in the game right now. Coaches get 6 timeouts per game right now, and that doesn't count all the breaks in action during televised games.

This not only stops play, but feeds into a bigger problem with college hoops - the dominance of 'systems' where coaches can almost completely control a game by directing incessent fouling or take the air out of the ball etc.

Take the timeouts down to 1 full and 1 30 second per half, and get the refs to assert their will and call contact early and often to prevent 'defenses' like VCUs from even existing. It's ruining the sport.

Band of Boils said...

Great piece boilerdowd. Please forward it to that windbag (aka Dukie V)!

I completely agree 100% with your points of view.

southboutique said...

In an effort to make you a Purdue expert in, cheap football memorabilia one day, LTP offers up a rare double-dip of guest blog Q&A sessions. Earlier today, Off The Tracks weighed in on all things Boilermaker football and now for the afternoon session.