College basketball season is always exciting and the NCAA tournament may be the best four week postseason in sports. However, college basketball could be better, believe it or not. There are some small changes that could be made to the game to make it more exciting for fans to watch and easier for players to put their talents on display. The NCAA is also dealing with a major issue about whether or not paying college athletes.
These issues could be fixed in a shorter duration if the NCAA is willing to adapt and change for the best interest of the sport.
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I. Shortening the Shot Clock
The men’s shot clock in college basketball is 35 seconds long. That is 11 seconds longer than the 24-second shot clock in the NBA and the women’s shot clock in college basketball is 30 seconds long. Sports are about entertainment, therefore to create more interest a shorter shot clock would lead to more offensive possessions. More offensive possessions would allow players like Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins to show more of their talent off to the world and create more attention around the sport. More possessions mean more points and fans love to see more points scored. It just makes sense.
Honestly, a 35-second shot clock actually hurts good defensive teams just as much as it does bad defensive teams. Good defensive teams have to guard a team for 35 seconds when a shorter shot clock means they could be forced to do less work and get into their offense quicker. It would allow defenses to change their style of play as well, incorporating more traps and presses throughout a game. The change would also force teams that like to slow down the ball and take all 35 seconds on the shot clock to adjust their game and speed up their tempo. This would lead to more parity in college basketball, allowing lower-ranked teams to make comebacks later in games due to the added possessions.
Since 1996, according to StatSheet, possessions per game have gone from 141.5 in 1997 to 134.5 in 2011. In result, points per game dropped from 142 per game to 135 per game in those same years. In 2012-13, the average number of points scored in a game was 67.5, the lowest since 1981 when the three-point shot was adopted. Why limit the amount of scoring and exciting play?
When college basketball players make the leap into the NBA it will be easier for them to adapt to the speed of the game and the up and down pace. College athletics, as well as education, is suppose to get students ready for their futures. The NCAA should do what it is supposed to do and adapt the game into the best situation for players to get ready for the NBA.
II. Adding a sixth foul
The NCAA did a better job defining what a block is and what a charge is this year, but let’s face it: there are still too many called in a game. Referees constantly miss the call or get it wrong and it’s not always their fault. For instance, the Syracuse/Duke matchup at Cameroon Indoor ended when C.J. Fair was called for a questionable charge foul. The refs get carried away with this call at times and it can disrupt the momentum of the game and get good players into foul trouble when they shouldn’t be.
This year, the NCAA also implemented new rules to reduce physical play. They included fouls for the following types of contact:
• When a defensive player keeps a hand or forearm on an opponent
• When a defensive player puts two hands on an opponent
• When a defensive player continually jabs by extending his arm(s) and placing a hand or forearm on the opponent
• When a player uses an arm bar to impede the progress of an opponent.
This has lead to an increase in foul calls and is fouling out some of the best players early in games. Jabari Parker fouled out early in a game against Andrew Wiggins and Kansas, in which the world was watching the two star freshmen battle it out on national TV. A sixth foul could have led to a different, more exciting finish. The Oklahoma State/Gonzaga matchup in the second round of the tournament resulted in the most fouls called ever in an NCAA tournament game. Le’Bryan Nash, one of Oklahoma State’s best players, only played 17 minutes before fouling out, along with four other players in the game.
A sixth foul will allow good players to stay on the floor longer like it does in the NBA. The average number of fouls called on each team in the 2012 season was 18.3 per game. This relates back to my point earlier about putting the best possible product on display for the fans to watch.
III. Eligibility Rules and Paying Athletes
To make college basketball more like college football and create more viewership and revenue, it starts with keeping the star players in school for more than one season. The one-and-done rule has forced college basketball to lose some of its premier players every year to the NBA. Players are allowed to declare for the NBA after just one season and most make the jump even if they are not ready to play and handle themselves off the court as responsible young men. However, before I get into what needs to be changed, if the rule stays the same, if players declare and do not get drafted, they should be allowed to come back to school. That is something that should be implemented this season. Punishing kids and not allowing them to get an education because they take a risk is wrong.
With that being said, the NCAA should work with the NBA about changing the eligibility rules to force players to stay for at least two seasons. Yes, some of these players are ready to play right away, but some of them are not ready to live on their own and make the right decisions in life. They should be forced to stay two seasons to get an education because that is what is best for the students and their futures. Most of these athletes don’t make it in the professionals and need an education to fall back on to have success and make a living.