you asked for it
"Soon he will start appearing in historically significant photos and no one will remember that he was not, in fact, present."
Harbaugh put his Jim Harbaugh on the Declaration of Independence, and war was avoided. The British decided to do anything else at all; Harbaugh was forced to invent the game of baseball so he could play it with himself.
Shot clock effect on upsets.
Given that lowering the shot clock from 35 to 30 seconds had little to no effect in the NIT, and that we can expect the same for a full season, I wonder if a side effect of the change might be fewer upsets. While efficiency might not change, the number of possessions will. I would think that with more possessions the better team is likely to win, because more possessions mean less randomness and greater reversion to the mean overall.
Give EMU 50 possessions against Michigan vs. 100 possessions against Michigan, and I would think that they would have a better chance to win with 50 possessions than 100. Could the 30 second shot clock actually make March Madness less maddening by reducing upsets? Thoughts?
-A slightly amused reader who still hopes for upsets
I think that's correct. I still remember that game back in the Amaker era when Illinois was at their apex and Michigan was rolling out Dion Harris and walk-ons named Dani. Michigan's strategy was to run the clock down without running offense and have Harris take a contested shot—the most Amaker strategy ever—and it worked for a while.
Anything that increases the number of trials without making those trials significantly less reliable indicators of talent should reduce upsets. It should be a real effect, but it might be so small as to not be reliably measurable. Maybe Kenpom will address it once he's got a big ol' bag of data.
I have gotten a lot of questions/assertions about the 30 second shot clock—far more than I think the change warrants. The differences are going to be minor. The median NCAA team saw only 10.7% of its shots go up in the period of time just erased. Some of that time can be reclaimed by being more urgent about getting the ball up the floor. (For example, the NBA's back court violation is an eight second call, not a ten second call.) The net impact is likely to be less wasted time and approximately equal efficiency. That's a good change for the game.
More on shot clock
I don’t believe this will affect the quality of shots as much as it will affect substitutions…
On a number of occasions I watched several teams, Wisconsin and Michigan included, essentially ‘waste’ at least 5 seconds tossing the ball back and forth outside the 3 point arc without any other movement. Case could be made this was simply being used to offer the players a short rest on offense, meaning that the top players likely play longer before substitution.
This may mean that teams with deep and talented benches gain an advantage…so the question may become whether it is the team with the best starters or the team with the best top 9 that wins.
-Howard [ed: a basketball referee]
There's another effect: if teams do decide to make those five seconds up by being quicker that's going to result in more pressure to get up and down the floor and more tired legs late in games. That'll be something to watch next year: does the percentage of bench minutes go up as a result?
Again: probably marginal impact but one that I would argue is unambiguously good.
[After the JUMP: another theory of baseball competitiveness, sea cucumbers.]
This season's proliferation of Bo Ryan bug basketball combined with the electric NCAA final and how that final was marred by the gibbering incompetents in stripes to create an environment where you can't throw a rock without hitting someone suggesting changes intended to make basketball more watchable. Most of these are at least indirectly aimed at Bo Ryan.
Here are some ideas which I do not necessarily endorse, except in the case of removing timeouts. I have watched basketball at least once and therefore am passionately in favor of this.
[UPDATE: Andy Glockner just posted on this, too.]
Shorten the shot clock
Eamonn Brennan caught the normally shy and reticent Tom Izzo making an appearance on the radio in which he said this:
“We have the slowest game in the world,’” Izzo said. “As you say, the international [game] is less [slow]. The pro is less. The women’s is less. And here we are with 35 [seconds].
He went on to say that chopping the shot clock was discussed at the rules committee meetings in Atlanta. Brennan suggests a drop to 24 but if they did change this I'd guess they go with 30, an intermediate between the current clock and the same as the international game.
I'm not sure a drop does much to make basketball nicer to look at. If you go all the way to 24 you've got less good basketball players operating in an unrestricted zoning environment, which is a recipe for a lot of ugly no-look heaves at the basket with the buzzer going up. Is watching Wisconsin play in a 24-second shot clock world even grimmer? Maybe. I shudder to think about middling college teams trying to scrape together a shot in 14 seconds after barely busting a VCU or Louisville press. College players probing the Syracuse zone in 24 seconds… I mean. Yergh.
If it's 30 you have marginally increased the speed of the game and made it more difficult for bug people to squat on your enjoyment… at least when they're on offense. They'll squat all the fiercer on defense.
One positive development from a shorter shot clock is the increased attractiveness of running. It still seems like a minefield of unintended consequences.
Get rid of timeouts, the more the better
The only interesting thing that has ever happened during a timeout.
No one has specifically been suggesting this because they haven't been forced to watch a basketball game that's just gone under two minutes with both coaches in possession of four timeouts, but check twitter the next time this goes down. Basketball teams should get one time out, end story. If networks want to slightly bulge commercial breaks in compensation, fine. Anything is better than the end of a tight basketball game feeling like rush hour in Chicago.
For a quick check on what happens when you don't have timeouts, let's go to the end of the Michigan-Indiana game. Michigan is down one with twelve seconds left and no timeouts:
While the outcome was displeasing to Michigan fans, hey guess what it's still basketball, and for neutrals it was much better than the same thing after yet another 30 second break.
Severely reducing available timeouts has the added benefit of making games more chaotic at the end. You can't save a possession by calling TO on the floor; you have to inbound even if that seems like a bad idea; you can't bail yourself out when trapped in a corner. All those near-turnovers that end in an anti-climatic timeout are suddenly 50/50 balls, which favors the trailing team.
Unfortunately, an unholy conspiracy of control freak coaches and revenue-craving TV execs means this will never, ever happen.
Call those foul things
At right: possibly a foul. Possibly not. But it definitely wasn't called one. Probably.
The referees weren't perfect, but for the most part, Beilein felt the officials allowed players freedom of movement -- which, in his opinion, is the way the game should always be played.
"I like the way the NBA is played," Beilein told WWLS 98.1-FM on Monday. "If you put your hand on a guy, it's a foul.
"We actually teach it, and it hurts us sometimes when we're not as physical as other teams."
The national title game was poorly officiated all around. One of the ways in which it was is symptomatic of a larger trend and not just an OOOAAAWWWWHHHH outrage with no redeeming qualities: all those phantom fouls on Louisville once they'd stolen the ball. UL would foul Michigan up and down the court; refs wouldn't call it until Michigan was in a terrible position because of it and turned it over. There's a tendency to look at foul, see if it affects the play, and then call it. You know and hate those whistles that occur after the shot.
A foul should be a foul. No more talk about Deciding The Game. The refs are deciding the game either way. "Letting the players play" is in fact letting nobody play because it's hard to play basketball when people are bumping and grinding you. Letting people play leads to ugly rugby-scrum games. All year Michigan opponents would hand-check Burke; all year everyone would shuffle their chest into the shooter without consequence; all year you could plow into a three-point shooter on a closeout without getting a whistle except in the most extreme circumstances.
At this point there has to be a terrible period where a foul is redefined as a consistent thing not dependent on the game situation, which will lead to scads of ugly games with lots of free throws. It'll be like that period in the NHL when the powers that be decided that all that stuff in the rulebook was there for a reason. That was a half-season of misery, but the game came out better for it.
Also, for pants sake can we get an advantage call? If a foul does nothing to prevent a one-on-zero fast break, fling your arms out dramatically and give the foul at the next opportunity*, which will almost invariably be after the fast-break bucket. When it's not just whistle it when the opposing team gets the ball back. They can't complain, they committed a foul.
You'll like this a lot, basketball referees. It's very dramatic. You can pretend you're a matador, or super into right angles, and you can do it for seconds at a time when the play is still going on.
*[no shots, just the personal and the team foul.]
The usual NBA business
The NCAA has no power to change the NBA's one-and-done rule. If they did, they would have already done it. That doesn't stop people from coming up with better systems than the current one—all of them. Beilein advocates for a baseball model where you either go straight out of high school or hang around for three years:
"(My preference would) probably be very much like baseball," Beilein said earlier this week. "I think that would be a great thing. If there's a Kobe (Bryant) or LeBron (James) out of high school, he can get that big contract and go.
"If not, go (to college) for three years and make an educated decision. Then guys can redshirt and do all these things. That's ideal in my mind."
The NBA is unlikely to go for that since one of the main goals of one-and-done was to put their future stars in a year-long free marketing internship, and to prevent a bunch of high schoolers with no business declaring from doing so.
Actually, there are some things the NCAA can do to help out here. For one, they can change their archaic rules. If you opt into a draft, you're done. If you just get drafted, you can maintain your eligibility. The "you just get drafted" rule is in place in hockey, and while it has its flaws the end result is a lot more sensible. A couple years ago I made an extremely useful and no doubt soon-to-be-accepted proposed change to the draft that boils down to these points:
- Everyone gets drafted out of high school; they retain their eligibility. The draft expands a round or two.
- An NBA team signing a draft pick has to provide a guaranteed contract that lasts until the player is five years out of high school. They cannot reclaim this roster spot even if the player is cut.
- Drafted, unsigned players can participate in summer league.
As a bonus the NCAA could allow drafted players to retain agents, get some money, and go to NBA team activities on the team's dime. The NBA could execute the bulleted sections all on their own now, though.
This would move the "should I leave school" decision to the player and the team instead of an advisory board that's guessing. NBA teams would have to think hard about guaranteeing a high school kid money and a roster spot for five years, less hard about guaranteeing a junior two. The NCAA would enjoy an influx of attention from fans of pro teams tracking their draftees and could use that as a useful jumping off point from their archaic notions of amateurism.
Fire anyone who turns the act of calling a charge into a play in one act
Also never happening but as long as I'm getting this out of my system I figure I should mention this. God bless the guy who called the Morgan/Triche charge like he was Marvin the Paranoid Android.