Old school, new school and the differing schools of thought on the state of college basketball

Geno Screamo
When Geno shouts, people have no choice but to listen

Geno Auriemma has never been one to keep his opinions to himself.  The current coaching king of women’s college basketball recently called the men’s game “a joke.”

He claimed the game is behind the times and lacks any consistent offense to keep fans engaged.  And he didn’t even mention the “one-and-dones.”

Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan voiced his opinion on college basketball immediately after his loss to Duke in the championship game.

Clearly still disappointed with the outcome of the game, the 70-year old Ryan said his program doesn’t succumb to the temptation of the “rent-a-player” and that they build from within, an obvious shot at the man who had just coached against him, Mike Krzyzewski.  Coach K’s not the only one who recruits “one-and-dones.”  Kentucky’s John Calipari is the man most known for doing so these days.  It’s what college basketball has become, a quest to find the most talented players who might not stick around.  Are head coaches at fault for not encouraging kids to stay in school longer or are they just keeping in line with the way the game has evolved… for lack of a better word.

First of all, let’s clarify a few things before we move on.  Of course, Bo Ryan doesn’t do one-and-dones.  He coaches at Wisconsin which is not exactly a hotbed for NBA talent.  Quickly, name Wisconsin’s best NBA player ever.  You can’t, can you?  The answer is Michael Finley.  ‘Nuff said.  No disrespect to either Coach Ryan or his program but someone should probably remind him he coaches at Wisconsin.

Jhalil holding up the number one signifying both Duke’s final ranking and the number of times he played quality defense against Frank Kaminsky

Furthermore, I call hypocrisy.  If someone with the innate talent of a Jhalil Okafor went up to Bo Ryan and told him he wanted to play at Wisconsin but was only going to stay for a year or two, would Ryan turn that student down, knowing that he’d probably take them deep into the tournament while simultaneously earning the program millions of dollars and probably garnering Ryan a raise in the process?  I think not.

I get that an embittered Ryan was upset about the loss.  It wouldn’t surprise me if an apology was on the way but don’t blame Coach Krzyzewski or Coach Calipari for playing the game.  Blame the system.

There are two divergent schools of thought with regards to the modern state of college basketball.  One is that it’s doing just fine.  The other swears the sport is in a state of disarray.

Timmy at Wake
How does this guy still look the same twenty years later?

I’m not sure I need more scoring in my game as Auriemma suggests, although I wouldn’t mind seeing better shots taken and fewer fouls called.  Nor am I offended by the fact that college kids use the system to launch (or at least attempt to launch) their careers in the bigs.  Such is life.  For every Tim Duncan who attended four years of college and went on to have a Hall of Fame career, there are four-year players that have flopped.  For every player who attended a year of college and had success in the pros, there are countless others who barely got to suit up.

The NBA and NCAA discuss annually whether to mandate an extra year of college ball.  That agreement will likely pass in the near future.  Or it may stall.  Who are we to tell a kid what he can and can’t do if he wants to earn a living and has the skill set to do so?

What I do know is that, near the end of the tournament, I saw two really good games.  I saw good shots and bad, decent defense and matador.  I saw a Wisconsin program take down John Calipari and his merry band of N-bomb dropping All-Americans.  I also saw Wisconsin come close to beating a pretty solid, yet very young, Duke team.

Ultimately, talent won out.  It always does.

Personally, I don’t care whether the players I’m watching are 18 or 22.  I care whether they’re good.  If Jhalil Okafor wants to jump to the NBA, he should have the right to do so without us griping over whether it’s right or wrong.  In the NBA, there will always be demand for a kid that is 6’11 and 270 pounds, regardless of whether he’s wet behind the ears.

Magic Bird college
Those were the days.

With regards to the quality of play, fans are still watching.  This year’s Final Four ratings were up 40% from last year.  Kentucky-Wisconsin peaked at a 16.4 and had Kentucky not lost that game, I would dare to guess that a Duke-Kentucky championship game would have been the most watched since Magic’s Spartans faced Bird’s Sycamores back in 1979, a game that to this day remains the highest rated college final game ever.

I had a discussion with Dr. Milhouse right before the Duke-Wisconsin game.  He suggested there should be some sort of name to describe the revisionist history that overtakes us when reminiscing about how everything was so much better back in the day, the “I used to carry a block of ice up five flights of stairs” syndrome.

College basketball would be SO much better these days if it weren’t for these meddling kids.  Zoinks!

I’m open to any legitimate suggestions that might make the game more entertaining but there’s no denying that March Madness is still three of the most exciting weeks in sports.  Tens of millions of us still turn in brackets that end up embarrassing us in a week’s time.  The Holy Grail perfect bracket has yet to be completed.  Despite our complaining about rent-a-players and missing the way the game “used to be,” college basketball continues to thrive in spite of itself.  Recent television ratings prove that.

As long as there is talent, passion and drama, we will watch.  We are sports fans and that’s what we do.

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14 Replies to “Old school, new school and the differing schools of thought on the state of college basketball”

  1. Chris

    Auriemma coaches Women’s College Basketball and is assured the U Conn Huskies obtains the best talent possible in terms of recruiting but he’s got the audacity to suggest the Men’s game has nothing to offer ? What the hell ! What type of medication is he being prescribed and who is his primary practitioner ? He may well have won his tenth national title but I really doubt he’d have been able to achieve that feat were he coaching at Maryland , Texas Tech even FSU .

    Another day , same old ways with the Rays as they get “torched” for the second day straight by the Orioles . There may well have been just over 30,000 for that Opening Day game at the Trop , but that figure is going to steadily decline really fast and there won’t be a damn thing either team President Brian Auld will be able to do in spite of all of the rhetoric coming out of his mouth concerning doing things the Rays’ way and the team being competitive on the field of play. There has been absolutely nothing to suggest this team is remotely capable of competing this season . Not based on these first two games and the fact the pitching and defense is woefully inept and the offense remains spotty at best. Kevin Cash still has a long way to go and learning on the job is not going to cut it , no matter what is being said , by the front office or the eternal optimism being shown by the Rays’ fans.

    If interested check out the latest piece entitled ” Latest odes” (Can also be viewed on Facbook or twitter )

    Tophatal ……………….

  2. I will watch college basketball no matter what because I am a fan, but the game itself is mediocre in general. Just my opinion.

    I agree with taking a can’t miss and coaching him for however long he may attend the school I am coaching. Bo Ryan should be quiet and I was rooting for Wisconsin. I also knew Michael Finley went to Wisconsin for the record.

    The officiating was particularly bad in the FF. Wisconsin got hosed towards the end against Duke yet they benefited against Kentucky. It was just bad all around. The championship game was much worse and way inconsistent. They didn’t call a foul for 6 minutes to start the game then decided to ref completely different. Total BS. Wisconsin fouls the least of ANY team in the country and only had 2 fouls at the half. That is a pretty low number, but ok. Coack K complains and all of a sudden Wisconsin has 10 fouls called in 4 minutes in the second half. WTF? Those three refs should never be allowed to ref again. I think that is also a problem in college basketball. Refs being badgered by coaches and ultimately giving into certain coaches. More T’s need to be given to Coach Cal, Coach K, Billy Donovan, Bill Self, Roy and others. High profile coaches get their way and it needs to stop. I thought Wisc/KY and Wisc/Duke were two of the more exciting games I have watched in awhile. Too bad the rest of college basketball doesn’t resemble what I watched last weekend.

  3. There isn’t going to be a solution to this until we get rid of the the illusion of the “student-athlete.” The NBA and the NCAA could do themselves so many favors by partnering on this rather than pretending the other doesn’t exist.

  4. Both Heavy D and Top Hat Al have valid points.

    But, where do you draw the line with experience?

    So you say that the NBA only takes players one year out of college age.

    The players get better.

    Then you say two years out.

    Then the players get better.

    Then you say three years out.

    Then the players get better.

    With the number of available starting roster spots, these kids would be better served playing it out in college.

    Just ask that guy from Evansville in the 90’s that declared and nobody knew who he was.

  5. The Rays finally won one, Al. I think Odorizzi’s gonna be solid for them this year. My only question is why they didn’t they make him the number two starter with both Cobb and Moore still out.

    And re: Auriemma, I had a bunch of UConn fans come into the bar this weekend as the Final Four was in Tampa. All were raving about what a class act Auriemma is.

    I wonder if they’d be saying that if he wasn’t their coach who had won them ten national championships. I’m not suggesting he’s not classy. I’m just saying he often likes to make his opinions known where they’re not necessarily welcome.

  6. My understanding, D, is that in every off-season for every sport, the powers that be look at the officiating and see how they can make it better.

    The foot out of bounds was clearly a missed call but I thought at that point of the game, they were letting the guys play. Duke adjusted, Wisconsin didn’t. The ball out of bounds off the finger was questionable at best. I can see why they didn’t reverse that call.

    I’m sure the NCAA will review its officiating to see what they can do to make things more consistent moving forward.

    Personally I’m okay with them letting the guys play. Nobody wants to see a call sway a game or a series. But as long as the human element is involved, there will be error.

    I mean, just look at some of my ex-girlfriends.

  7. Yea but Beave, these guys are staring a million dollar paycheck in the face. That temptation, and perhaps overall need, is too much to turn down.

    If I work in a steel mill (and am clearly qualified to do so) and want to jump straight from high school to work in that mill, I have that right. Why is the NBA any different? Major League Baseball isn’t.

    By the way, I weep for the future of American Steel if they put me in one of those mills. I’d divest. Just sayin’.

  8. I love March Madness and the Final Four but regular season games are almost un-watchable…. I used to be a die hard fan but now watching Big 10 teams beat each other up to a 51-49 final score makes me want to scratch my eyes out. Its the basics that everyone is missing and other than some rule changes (24 second shot clock, widen lane, etc) there is not much the NCAA can do. The real culprit is the AAU system and the Nike, Adidas camps that don’t teach anything other than how to get noticed by college coaches and scouts. No one knows how to pass, play defense, set a pick, box out or even grasp the basic concept of court spacing. There’s a reason my 50 year old, fat, bald, non-athletic brother still schools his high school age son and his team mates every time they play even though some of them are going to play college ball somewhere. They don’t want to do anything other than dribble between their legs, shoot 3’s and try to dunk….

  9. Fabes…

    Did you happen to catch the UConn-Notre Dame women’s championship game? Textbook offense. Picks, passes and rotation until the players ended up with bunnies, lay-ups or wide open jumpers. And if a team made a mistake and turned the ball over, it was an easy deuce on the other end.

    Sure, the men’s game can turn into two the other way with a high-flying dunk but how often are they taking bad rushed shots or not running their offense all the way through?

    I guess it’s true, women are smarter than men. Just don’t tell them I said that.

  10. I didn’t get a chance to watch the women’s game…. Ended up out on the boat and then drinking too many coronas at the Green Lemon for Taco Tuesday… Also, the Spurs were playing the Thunder on TV and I rarely miss a chance to watch them if they are on.

    I will need to come visit you when I get back from my vacation and we can watch some NBA playoffs….

  11. Did you see the 9 step travel by Kendrick Perkins? Wow, just wow. Refs should never work another game. Disgraceful.

    The foot out of bounds didn’t bother me as much as they played on and nobody knew he stepped out until there was a break in the action and several things had happened so you can’t go back. The ball clearly went out of bounds off of the Duke player. Yeah it was close, but they got it wrong and it hurt as the Duke player dropped a 3 to go up by 8 instead of Wisky ball down by 5. I really get more assed up about reffing one way for a bit then just changing it up for no reason. It is like an ump giving the outside corner off the plate for 7 innings then just deciding to shrink his strike zone for no reason. It is bush league and makes for frustrating players and fans.

  12. Absolutely, Fabes.

    It’s about that time of year.

    How about your Spurs going into Houston last night with a division title on the line and reminding them who’s who.


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