Quickly, while in this brief window when somebody cares about college basketball, let’s talk.
Let’s draw some blood, pull the dip stick, get a DNA swab and see what kind of shape the game is in.
Well, this certainly has been the season of great balance, great opportunity. No one was safe at the top of the rankings pyramid, No. 1s falling like so many broken Lenten vows and throwing great uncertainty into the tournament. This is a very good thing. A very healthy thing. And if you have played the chalk in your bracket pool, may you suffer an agonizing defeat.
There has over the course of this season arisen some fascinating mysteries:
Was LSU’s Ben Simmons just a rumor? Was he the unattainable ideal, like the truly enjoyable veggie burger?
When did Bill Walton decide he was going to seize the WBA Loud Irritating Non Sequitur belt from Dick Vitale?
And how does Rick Pitino still have a job as anything but a casino greeter?
Oh, there are clear fundamental problems, too. Here we are in 2016 and still the game has not addressed some basic issues. As few suggestions, before attention shifts to spring pad drills.
College basketball still has not adopted the one brilliant aspect of college baseball – no not going to aluminum, that would make dribbling nearly impossible. We’re talking about the eligibility rules. Let the high school phenoms try to go pro immediately – be it NBA, Europe, Developmental League – but players who land in college are there for three years or until they reach 21. Just like baseball. The one-and-done is a sham. We all know it and yet we still play along.
Here it is 2016 and college basketball hasn’t employed technology to keep coaches off the floor, confined to their prescribed box. A shock collar works on dogs, why not coaches who insist upon going free range?
As well as keeping them off the floor, you need to keep coaches less involved. Really. They get four media timeouts a half, and need five more for their own purposes? And those they hoard like a survivalist does Spam for the last two minutes. Cut the number to four for now (two a half?) and be done with it. Presumably coaches have spent some time with their teams in practice, so perhaps players should be prepared to play without the need of constant in-game tutoring.
Here it is 2016 and college basketball still hasn’t employed a shot clock – for referees. You get one minute to review a play in the final minutes. Look, this isn’t the Cannes Film Festival, you don’t need a two-hour screening. We know at home with the first replay what the call should be. Speed it up, zebra.
What really makes the end of games tedious when they should be climactic, of course, is the parade to the free throw line. How about giving a team, when in the double bonus, the choice of either shooting the free throws or retaining possession, with a brand new shot clock? Then more of the action might actually play out, oh, I don’t know, with the CLOCK MOVING. Sorry I yelled there.
There, now we’ve made some helpful suggestions that will go completely ignored. So let’s get back to paying attention while we can to the fine sport of intercollegiate basketball, warts and all.