An exciting, hard fought game fails to satisfy a growing number of people, especially those paid to watch and dissect it.
Instead of enjoying games filled with suspense and down-to-the-end competition, a growing number of sports analysts are complaining the event is broken and needs fixing.
A prominent pundit complains the NCAA tournament does not determine the true champion – best team in his view – with a single elimination format.
Baseball is too slow and games last too long. Basketball is boring and needs more scoring. Football needs more referees, cameras and challenges and to reduce the foot’s role in determining a game.
My brother John is a traditionalist, enjoying strategy and good competition. I often rely on his opinion, especially about basketball, when baffled by some current interpretations of old rules.
Traveling is the most baffling. It is still a turnover violation when a player barely moves his pivot foot while holding the basketball.
It is no longer traveling when a player, looking more like a running back, takes three or more steps weaving through the free throw lane to the basket for a shot. Contact with a defender often is ignored.
Even more baffling is what I call the hop stop, when after a step or two the player jump stops, settles and puts up a shot.
John said that one even bothers him – probably wishing it was interpreted that way in his hey day on the court in the 1960s.
Sports is routinely discussed at the End Stool, but I don’t recall anybody complaining about it being boring or broken. Wins, losses, player salaries – and officiating – are common topics.
There are many schemes and strategies coaches use for offense and defense.
During forty years of covering sports I found some coach’s strength was teaching fundamentals and others excelled making adjustments during a game. There probably was no better example than the Al McGuire and Hank Raymonds team at Marquette.
A 35-second shot clock is used in men’s college basketball, while the women have a 30-second clock. Wisconsin high schools do not have a shot clock, while some states do.
Even some coaches are critical of their game, including Geno Auriemma, whose Connecticut women have dominated major college play and won over 100 tournament games in his career.
“I think the game is a joke,” he said during a conference call, including the women’s game. “There’s only like ten teams, out of 25, that actually play the kind of basketball you’d like to watch.”
UConn women are a scoring machine posting wins by 56, 36, 51 and 23 points en route to Tuesday’s NCAA title game against Notre Dame. Auriemma has the pick of the best players and unlike the men’s game there is no one-and-done.
A defensive team wants to slow the pace of a game, while an offensive team usually wants a quicker pace to get off more shots and points. Controlling the ball is a way to improve the chance of an upset.
College basketball is not what it used to be, but it has nothing to do with the play on the court.
The one-and-done, where freshmen play a year and opt for a professional career, takes maturity and experience out of the game.
“It was disappointing. This was the last game we will be together,” a Kentucky freshman star said after Saturday’s loss to Wisconsin.
That was not the case for the Badgers a year earlier, suffering a last second loss to Kentucky in the semi-final. The juniors on that team used it as motivation to get back to the Final Four and a goal to cut down the nets ending their season.
After outlining this column two 1960s-70s vintage New London athletes – Len Luedtke and Roger Steingraber – stopped to relive some Bulldog feats I witnessed during their careers.
Steingraber played basketball under Dick Bennett, who coached New London, before moving on to coach at UW-Stevens Point and then the Badgers.
Len was a superb heavyweight wrestler and had memorable bouts with Glen Vissers and Gary Zeinert, leaving who was best debatable during their overlapping high school careers.
We laughed about complaints by some fans about “Bennett Ball” being boring and lacking scoring. Bennett turned around the losing culture of the UW program, but it was not good enough.
They wanted more scoring at a helter-skelter pace.
Boring, tell that to a Badger fan, by now even early skeptics of Bennett Ball must realize it is a game of balance – offense and defense, each depending on a set of skills to be proficient.
Bo Ryan has built on the winning atmosphere and “Bo Ball” is basically the same principle of the last three decades at UW – developing the skills of players during a career as a Badger.
“It’s what we do have and what we do with it,” Bo said, of maturity and experience building a team.