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.
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.
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.
"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.
I do like the idea of the delayed whistle, much like in hockey. If you have the ball and a chance to score, save the whistle until the other team takes possession - don't remove the advantage. And if the foul was not in the act of shooting, and the fouled team goes on to score before the offending team regains possession, simply make it an and 1.
I like the delayed whistle/penalty idea. I feel like we're geared to suffer the most under the current system because we're quick and like to run. It's happened a ton of times this year where Burke or GR3 (specifially against Cuse) or someone else gets a steal and is out in front, ready to dunk when they get fouled weakly from behind and the play is stopped. That especially kills us when it's a bad FT shooter with the steal (...McGary). Delayed whistle = good
I think it's worth saying that I think one of the best things about college basketball is the proliferation of different styles. Even if some are less watchable than others, I don't think it's a great idea to try and legislate some of them out of the game. I find the NBA that much less interesting because the games are much, much more similar to each other than those in college. Style variety should be encouraged, not crushed.
"We've beaten Michigan the last four years. So where's the threat?"
Because players are so often drafted on potential. Teams often take chances on players, especially young ones, thinking they can develop that raw talent. But when that talent busts, teams cut the player and don't have a huge penalty to pay for their big chance. This rule would dis-incentivize that practice.
Think about Darko...why the hell did the pistons draft him? At the time, they thought he was a potential superstar center. Someone who could stretch the defense with his outside shot. And since they were really good at the time, they could spend the time developing him. Work on his post game. Rebounding. Strength. Defense...after all he was so young...
Don't get me wrong, sometimes drafting young works. But for every Kobe, there is a Darko. For every LeBron, there is a Kwame Brown. Make the right pick, and you could have a superstar for the next decade and a half (if you can put the right pieces around him). Pick a bust, and you get to try again next year.
I'm not sure why people think the shot clock is the problem. The shot clock was 45 seconds in the late '80s/early '90s and teams scored more then than they do now. The problem right now isn't the number of possessions, but the difficulty of scoring in any given halfcourt possession. It's hard to score because of the way teams are allowed to play defense, which comes back to officiating.
Shortening the clock will not help things. It will make it harder to score, if anything. Teams will have less time to try to solve defenses which are allowed to handcheck and bump all over the place. Officiating is ultimately the issue here. Everything else is secondary.
I've been waiting to see someone make this point because I agree the shot clock isn't the main culprit. I think a decline in quality of play will take place, even in cutting of 5 seconds/possession. And to you last point, most things boil down to the way the game is officiated/ruled; maybe not the fault of the officials (but yea, a lot of times it is!), but the way the game is called. Change a bit of how things are officiated and things will open up a bit more the way most of us would like to see. We don't need to change the shot clock to send a message to Wisconsin on how their style sucks ass.
Your draft idea, wouldn't that cause some issues with teams forcing or at least strongly advising that the kids go to schools close to the teams? Would draft picks by the Lakers and Clippers end up going to UCLA or USC?
"No man is more important than The Team. No coach is more important than The Team. The Team, The Team, The Team"
is for any rule change that favors the defense, and favors front line football players. Also, I'll bet that whoever invented the foul did not do so with the intention of giving an advantage to the rule-breaker. A foul should hurt the team that fouls.
I don't think it's a good idea to take fouling completely out of the game. In late-game situations, the team with the lead would always choose having the ball over free throws, which would make it extremely difficult for the trailing team to ever get the ball. The final minute of a game would be much more of a formality than it is now.
I can understand, after the IU game at Crisler, why Michigan fans would want to change the rule, but what happened there - 70%+ shooters missing three consecutive free throws (two on the front end of one-and-ones) - was a pretty unlikely occurrence. The vast majority of the time, the team shooting free throws in that situation goes on to win. But it does keep the window of opportunity open for the trailing team just enough to make for interesting viewing.