|Freshmen Marcus Smart (left), Ben McLemore and Anthony Bennett are all expected to be in this June's NBA Draft, but should the one-and-done rule be changed? (espn.com)|
Reputations are powerful, especially bad ones, and right now college basketball's reputation is heading south. This reputation isn't about cheating or steroids. It's about the on-court product, although the NCAA does have its own issues to work out in terms of "amateurism."
A brilliant and entertaining national championship game wasn't enough to mask months of low scoring and poor officiating. Now that college basketball has entered the offseason, it's time to make the changes necessary to improve the game. If the NCAA needs some suggestions, how about starting with these:
This should be first and foremost on the NCAA's to-do list. It is difficult for the casual fan to become attached to the game when the teams go through complete overhauls each season because the star players sprint to the NBA Draft just as the country gets to know them. Imagine this – Kyrie Irving, Austin Rivers, Bradley Beal, Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Tristan Thompson, Brandon Knight and others all entered the draft as freshman and if not for the rule, they could all still be playing college basketball. What a March this could have been.
Six freshmen from this past season have already put their names in the draft, two of which, Ricky Ledo and Norvel Pelle never even played a game in college. Some players are talented enough to be ready for the NBA out of high school. That's fine, let them go. LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard did not need college. But most do. Josh Selby left Kansas as a freshman and now has been jumping back and forth from the D-league. So let those leave out of high school if they are projected lottery picks. Otherwise make them stay in college for three years. The players will develop their games, mature and the fans get players and teams they can look forward to watching for more than one season.
The addition of the charge arc under the hoop, as seen in the NBA, is meant to protect offensive players from defenders laying out for a charge under the basket. If the defender is on or inside the arc, it can't be a charge. The problem lies in the focus on the arc. Officials are paying more attention to the defender's feet in relation to the arch that they are missing crucial factors such as if the defender is shuffling his feet or leaning into the play or if the offensive player was out of control.
The charge/block call is the focal point on an overall issue of officiating as the game has become more physical. The whistles constantly blowing breaks up the flow of the game. Part of this is poor defensive principles by the players, but too often are officials the story of the game and eventually players need to be able to make plays when the game is on the line.
Those 35 seconds on the shot clock in the college game can feel like an eternity, especially when teams like Wisconsin slow the game down and play a low-scoring, grind-out game. You could make dinner and do your taxes in the time Wisconsin has the ball for one possession when they grab offensive rebounds and throw the ball back out to start again.
There is no reason why college offenses should need 11 more seconds to hit the rim than NBA teams get with a 24-second clock. Take the college clock down to 24 seconds, or 30 even if 24 is a little too extreme. This will speed up the game, increase scoring and keep fans from falling asleep when those teams that play at the pace of a geriatric league don't bore people into turning the channel.
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