Loren Tate: Dear NCAA, Speed it up
OK, college basketball aficionados, did you know:
— Prior to 1910, no coaching was allowed during the progress of a game. The first violation drew a warning, the second a free throw. Don’t confuse the players’ minds, right?
— In 1928, a dribbler could be whistled for a charging foul. Refs have been in a state of bewilderment on the block-charge rule for 86 years, and that’ll continue through the next 86.
— In the fall of 1937, the center jump after each basket was eliminated. That means Harry Combes played his entire Illini career with refs tossing up the ball after every goal.
— College coaches were cleared to speak to their players during a timeout in 1948-49. Something tells me they had it right the first time.
— The dunk became illegal in 1967-68. The only folks having any fun in those days were the hippies.
— Freshmen became eligible at the varsity level in 1972-73. And thus the one-and-done revolution was born.
— In 1987, each intentional personal foul meant two free throws and team possession. Why did they make that rule when they didn’t mean it?
Our rules experts have been monkeying with the game since they poked a hole in the bottom of the peach basket.
The three-point shot in 1986 revolutionized the sport, especially for the smaller players, and the 35-second clock sped it up.
Now, based on rules committee meetings at the Final Four, there’s more to come in the “television age.”
When the next rules-adjusting cycle begins in 2015, look for an attempt to limit delays in the last two minutes for timeouts, subs, TV reviews and intentional fouling.
Said David Worlock, NCAA associate director of men’s basketball: “Length of games is becoming a concern.”
Really? You mean fans don’t want to watch free throw contests? You mean fans don’t prefer to spend 15 or 20 minutes watching the last 120 seconds of action?
And the ability of players to call time under stress — they’ve already eliminated timeouts for players sailing out of bounds — will be evaluated. Players calling time should at least have both feet planted and not spread-eagled on the court; nor should timeouts be allowed after nine seconds have elapsed in the backcourt.
At this point, the two-hour game, so critical for TV, has gone the way of the two-hour baseball game. Studies next season probably will lead to more changes in 2015.
Like, is it really necessary to have 18 bench conventions during two 20-minute halves? Averaged out, that breaks down to a timeout stoppage every two-plus minutes, not counting free throws and halftime. For me, that raises a question: How did Bill Erickson and Don Sunderlage compete so hard for 40 minutes without those rest periods?
— College scoring declined each month from 73.2 in November to 69.1 in March, in part because officiating was so ridiculously tight at the outset and then gradually moved closer to an accepted norm. Or didn’t you notice the physical Kentucky-UConn finale in which the refs “let the players decide it.”
— The Illini rebranding produced impressive new uniforms, but it’s stretching symbolism to say that “oblique letterforms were inspired by the speed and elusive lateral movements synonymous with Red Grange.” That said, the theme of meshing old and new indicated attention to detail and in-depth research.
— The quest for point guards is becoming heated without concern for size. Purdue picked up 5-foot-11 Indianapolis star P.J. Thompson, and the Nebraska Cornhuskers added 6-2 New Jersey playmaker Tarin Smith. Others: 5-10 Bahamas product Lourawls Nairn to Michigan State, 6-1 Tony Dickerson to Iowa and 5-11 Floridian Nate Mason to Minnesota. Ohio State must wait a year for 5-9 AJ Harris.
— If you need a loan, call Bruce Weber. He was extended through 2018-19 ($2.25 million that year) at Kansas State and still has another year of payments from Illinois.
Loren Tate writes for The News-Gazette. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.