After 70 consecutive years of either playing, coaching or officiating basketball, I took my first winter off and instead of being a participant, I became just a fan. I observed hundreds of games in person, on TV and online.
I have seen parts of all NCAA Tourney men’s games played so far. I was able to catch parts of each game because I switched stations during the numerous media timeouts and countless occasions of refs going to a monitor to check a call.
From a playing, coaching and officiating standpoint, I have been finding March Madness to be just that, madness, for an old-fashioned basketball purist like me.
Madness is prevailing due to:
— Teams are losing games at the foul line and not going inside out to get open 3-pointers.
— Players are needlessly grasping the rim on dunks and leaving their feet without shooting the ball, which is a leading cause of turnovers.
— Players are leaving their feet before the man that they are guarding with the ball leave their feet, which leads to fouls.
— Players are blocking shots before the ball leaves a shooter’s hands, which leads to fouls.
— Players are making poor basketball decisions, which lead to many player control fouls and turnovers.
— Players are not blocking out on the defensive boards, leading to many put-back points for opponents, because players try to rely on their athletic skills to play the game and are playing from the shoulders down and not the shoulders up.
— Defenders are not closing out shooters, especially 3-point shooters and are not using the correct hand to hinder the shot.
— Too many players are celebrating during the games.
The main reason many of these things are occurring is because coaches are not teaching.
Instead, too many coaches are accepting bad play and poor shot selection. They are not preparing their teams for all situations and are allowing players their vain celebrations.
Coaches are spending too much time roaming the sidelines, complaining to get the next call from officials, instead of making the needed game adjustments as the game progresses and executing good game plans.
Other maddening things from the games are coming from the officials, who have allowed the games to become more physical. The games are not called as tight as the regular season and some have resembled wrestling matches.
Another aggravating aspect dealing with the officiating is caused due to the NCAA’s decision not to use the Precision Timing system during the tourney. This technology, used during the regular season, stops the game clock when an official blows his whistle.
As a result, we are subjected to officials using a monitor to check on calls in the last two minutes of games. This is tough to watch after the game’s flow has already been disrupted by media timeouts every four minutes per half at the 16-, 12-, 8- and 4-minute marks of each half. With each team also allowed five timeouts, there can be a total of 18 timeouts for each game.
With all the timeouts, I may have worn out my remote, switching constantly back and forth between channels. I may have to buy a new one. Wouldn’t that make you mad?