First off, let me come clean, I am a Duke fan. Okay everyone roll your eyes and sigh. But yes I have seen a game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on the hallowed grounds of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.
And I will also admit that I have never been that much of a fan of the Kansas Jayhawks. I can’t decide if it is because they always tend to break my heart and bracket come March (cough cough Bucknell, cough Northern Iowa), or if it is because the one year I decided I would not pick them to go far because of their history of choking they win the whole thing (yeah I am looking at you Memphis, make your free-throws!).
So I may sound bitter because Kansas just beat my beloved Blue Devils tonight by 11. But bear with me.
I sat down with my dad tonight to watch Duke play Kansas. #4 vs #5 in the polls right now. A really big night for college basketball that concluded one heck of a college basketball marathon on ESPN. But the strangest thing happened, I didn’t watch a basketball game. Nope, instead I was treated to Duke and Kansas competing against each other in a free-throw contest (a contest which Duke lost by the way, ‘cmon boys, you can’t be missing 12 free throws).
I was really looking forward to watching good early season college hoops, but I left watching the game not feeling like it was basketball I was really watching. Even had Duke won I left the game with a bad taste in my mouth. It was not entertaining, it was slow, boring and the game had no flow.
And it is all because the NCAA and the head officials wanted to add more of a flow to the game. I am serious that is what they said. Basically the NCAA does not want any player to touch another player EVER!
There were 53 fouls called tonight. The teams combined to shoot 63 free throws. How on earth does stopping the game this much for every little ticky tack touch add a good flow to basketball?
The new rules in basketball that was meant to eliminate the hand check has almost eliminated defense all together. I understand, hand checks should be eliminated. If a defender puts his hand or arm on a player then uses it to disrupt the offensive players rhythm, speed, or balance, it should be called a foul.
But it has now been taken to a whole new level, they are not allowed to place a hand or arm on a player at all. Even when the offensive player lowers his shoulder and enters the defenders personal space that he has a right to, the defender still cannot use his hands that will help him with balance and speed to keep up with the offensive player.
I love basketball. March Madness is the greatest 2 1/2 weeks in sports. But what I really enjoyed about basketball was watching teams really have to earn their points. When teams don’t usually enter the double-bonus until there are less than 4 minutes in the half.
Sure a guy might roll an ankle, or catch an elbow. But that’s sports, it happens. Heck I saw Kevin Ware‘s leg snap in half and all he did was contest a shot and land on one leg.
But let’s be real. The NCAA is not doing this because of risk of injury. Everything is done for money. The NCAA believes with this new style of basketball more points will be scored, and when more points are scored more people want to watch, and when more people want to watch… you know where I am going with this.
And if they want more points, that is absolutely fine, but this is not the way to do it. Why not shorten the shot clock from 35 seconds to 30. Or even closer to the pros like 24 seconds. Then everyone wins. But calling a foul every time a player touches someone is exhausting and boring. It will be a miracle if at least one player does not foul out of every close game this year.
I have heard it said that games are won and lost on the free-throw line. And I completely agree. But games should not be played on the free-throw line.