March Madness, the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tourney, is defined by many by its upsets, exciting games, drama, celebrations and high-flying dunks.
My definition of March Madness has nothing to do with that.
Instead, the madness is the way the game has changed and not for the better in the ways it is played, coached and officiated.
Division I basketball at the higher level is more athletic than even the NBA. Most top DI teams have 18- to 20-year-old players whose greatest attributes are their athletic skills and talent.
Many are bigger, stronger, quicker, faster, and have more dribble speed than their predecessors. However, their understanding of the game of basketball is low, which leads to poorer basketball decisions. Fundamentals have been replaced by athleticism.
Many current NBA players have lost some of their athletic skills because of age, so they have increased their basketball knowledge to make better basketball decisions.
There are more experienced and fundamentally sound international players making up NBA rosters. The NBA has changed to a more finesse game. There is less physical contact in the pro game compared to the college game, especially down in the wrestling area of the low post.
Athleticism is great entertainment for the fans, but the play in the college game is ragged and rough.
Here are some examples, some that show the decrease of fundamentals:
— Poor foul shooting techniques, especially by big players. I even saw a couple of foul shots that were air balls.
— Three-point attempts that also didn’t hit the rim.
— Poor shot selection, forced off-balance shot attempts and out-of-control drives off the dribble to the hoop ending up in player-control-fouls.
— Not enough ball movement or ball reversal.
— Too much one-on-one dribbling, dribble drives and two-on-two.
— Poor defensive blocking out, which gives up important offensive put backs especially at crucial times in games. Players do not look to find their men to block out, they just turn and follow the ball.
— Players with the ball leaving the floor and not shooting the ball, which leads to many turnovers.
— Shot blockers not waiting until the ball leaves the shooters hands to block the shot and defenders leaving their feet guarding a player with the ball before the offensive player leaves their feet — both resulting in fouls.
— Coaches up and running around in coaching boxes and they are outside the coaching box more than they are in it. They are acting more like cheerleaders than coaches.
— Coaches allowing too many poor decisions by their players and allowing excessive individual celebrations.
— Officials spending too much time at the replay monitor, which slows the game down. Too many media timeouts are also slowing down the game.
— Officials not calling technical fouls for players grabbing/swinging on the rim and complaining about calls. They are also getting the block/charge calls incorrect and are missing goaltending and basket interference calls.
All of this is what makes March truly maddening for a basketball purist.
It is having a detrimental effect on the high school game as players, coaches, fans, and parents incorrectly think that this is the way the game is supposed to be played.
Trivia Question: What college team won both the NCAA and NIT championships in the same year?