A New Shot Clock for College Basketball: 24 seconds

The 2012-2013 college basketball season has thus far been a season of major upsets and equality across the nation. For the neutral and hardcore fan alike, it has not been a season of great offensive efficiency.

A quick Google search reveals numerous stories from headline sources detailing the historically low offensive season to date. Furthermore, television ratings (and the almighty dollar bill) have been in decline for a few years.

What does it all mean? A dying sport, or one in transition? Only time can really tell, but there is one solution the NCAA can implement as soon as next season: a new, shorter shot clock. The shot clock, first introduced at an agonizing 45 seconds in the 1985-1986 season was later trimmed to the current 35 second variation in the early 1990s. Now is the time to take the next evolution in the game and move to 24 seconds.

1. The NBA

Many college basketball fans share an aversion for the NBA. Regardless of the feelings of the hardcore fan, the league represents the highest level of basketball in the world. College basketball, often viewed as a feeder league to the NBA (especially in the one-and-done era), needs to move closer to the NBA style.

The current 11 second gap between the two shot clocks is superfluous. Although the nostalgic view holds college basketball in an unrealistic light in regards to the student athlete, collegiate sports have become a means to an end for the high level athlete. Even the mid-level high school recruit who statistically has only a slim shot at the NBA views college basketball as just a step in the long process of reaching their dream.

Accepting the reality of college basketball’s place, a 24 second shot clock helps the players develop at quicker paces. Allowing the players to develop quicker, allows them to become more efficient, and thus delivering a higher level of quality on the hardwood. Higher quality play is an aspect desperately absent from the current college game.

2. The Neutral Fan

There’s always a danger in a league catering exclusively to the neutral fan, but the perspective is important here. Neutral fans are not watching the college basketball regular season as often as years past according to the link above. Increased television ratings, the focal point of conference realignment on the football side, can benefit the sport in the long term.

Although college football will remain the dominant force in realignment, college basketball does not have to sit idly to the side and go a long for the ride. Increased television ratings by catching neutral fans from improving the quality of play will allow for the potential of greater revenue from television deals to go alongside the revenue from college football.

3. The Modern Athlete

Given the advances in medicine and science, the athlete today is in better shape than the athlete of years past. Why not cater to the new breed of athlete by quickening the pace of games?

Many freshmen enter college campuses with toned bodies due to strict training regimens. Others undergo huge transformations during the first few months on campus due to better diets and training emphasis from their coaches.

Today’s players are better equipped to handle a quicker paced game.

4. Increased Scoring

A 24 second shot clock gives each team, at a minimum, one full possession per minute of the game while one of the teams receives another half possession. Under the current 35 second clock, only one team is guaranteed a full possession per minute of game time.

Increased possessions in a game will allow teams to possess the ball more and subsequently score more. Even if shooting percentages drop or, more likely, stay the same, they’ll be able to score more points per game by virtue of having more opportunities to score.

Under the 24 second clock, each team is guaranteed 60 possessions at a minimum each game. Assuming, hypothetically, a team shot 40% for a game, did not attempt a three point field goal, did not achieve a single offensive rebound, and all made shots were two points, that team would score 48 points.

48 points does not sound too appetizing, but when one considers the extremeness of my hypothetical, it provides a good baseline. Teams will receive other points from put-back attempts on rebounds, three point field goals, and foul shots.

Let’s dream up another hypothetical: a team takes 60 shots (20 three pointers and 40 two points), shoots 40% for all shots from the game, and again received no foul shots or offensive rebounds. That team would score, at a baseline minimum, 32 points from two pointers and 24 from beyond the arc for a combined 56 per game. Again, not very appealing numbers until taken into the context of the rarity of the hypothetical (a game with no offensive rebound put-backs, foul shots, and each team receiving only the minimum amount of possessions per game).

Add 15 foul shots to the last hypothetical at a 60% clip and an additional 9 points are added to the game. Increase the amount of possessions due to up-tempo teams, turnovers created by pressure, etc. and one can see the baseline minimum points provides a good starting point for increasing the scoring of college basketball teams.

Conclusion

The dwindling television ratings, the decreased scoring, the modern athlete, and college basketball’s status as a feeder league to the NBA all point in the direction of decreasing the shot clock to 24 seconds. The decreased clock will eventually increase the overall quality of play and immediately increase the points per game attracting new neutral fans which will increase television ratings. It is important for college basketball to continue evolving to better match the professional game in quality.

The ball is in your court, Mr. Stern

During Sunday’s Miami Heat – Indiana Pacers playoff game, ESPN interviewed Commissioner David Stern who watched the game from court-side. Stern was asked about Pacers coach Frank Vogel who called the Heat the biggest “floppers” in the league which led to a $15,000 fine.

Stern defended the fine, but expressed his agreement with the underlying policy behind Vogel’s comments. The NBA, and basketball in general, faces a major issue in flopping. Stern labeled it not even a legitimate play.

Amen! Finally, someone in the power structure of a sport admits that flopping is a serious problem which should be eliminated from the game (take cue, soccer; someone please stand up and stop the insanity on the pitch).

Flopping took center stage in one of the NBA’s best first round series between the Memphis Grizzlies and the Los Angeles Clippers. Players such as Chris Paul, Blake “Flake” Griffin, and Reggie Evans continuously flailed their limbs and landed on their asses in the seven game series.

Grizzlies’ forward Zach Randolph called the Clippers the biggest floppers in the league “by far” on the Doug Gottlieb Show on ESPN Radio (see all of his comments in the same link above). Below, you can see one example of Clippers’ superstar Chris Paul falling to the ground with minimal contact after grabbing a rebound. In another video, Reggie Evans of LA’s basketball step-child exaggerates contact after setting a screen.

Sir Flops-a-Lot Paul

And the invisible uppercut to Reggie Evans’ chin

The Clippers are not the only ones. Manu Ginobli of the San Antonio Spurs is well-known for his disgraceful flopping prowess. It’s a league-wide epidemic affecting superstars and role players. It’s out-of-control.

At one point earlier this season in a game between the Miami Heat and the New York Knicks, former NBA coach and current ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy embarked on a two minute diatribe against flopping (video below). Van Gundy’s the voice you heard at the end of the Evans’ flop clip above. He’s a well known anti-flopping advocate and an important voice in the war on embellishment.

It’s time to take a hard-line approach on flopping. It cannot be tolerated. Violators should face stiff penalties designed to strongly discourage such action and rid the disease from the game of basketball.

Referees are able to stop flopping by making the requisite calls. However, all potential incidents should be subject to post-game review by the NBA. Offenders should be fined and suspended games. If you want to play, play the right way.

For example, first time offenders, aside from in-game fouls, would be subject to a $10,000 fine and a one game suspension after a post-game review by the NBA. Secondary offenders would be subject to a $25,000 fine and a three game suspension. A player who commits a third offense must pay a $50,000 fine and miss five games. Any further violation should result in a $100,000 fine and a ten game suspension.

David Stern, it’s time for you to set a precedent. Exterminate this nasty disease from the game of basketball. It’s better for the sport, the players, and the fans. You made your feelings public, now it’s time to act on them.

MLB 2012 Season Preview

Hello Jerks and Jerkettes. Today, we are ready to embrace the newest season of God’s sporting gift to man. That’s right, baseball is back. Apple pie, Chevrolet, and all the extras are with it, too. Hop on board the train as I offer division winners (and losers), major award winners, and playoff predictions all six months ahead of schedule and sure to be wrong.

American League East

Baseball’s juggernaut division and ESPN favorite will again feature three really good teams: the Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox. Don’t discount the Blue Jays, but they are not quite ready to compete. As for the Orioles? Enjoy the crab cake at Camden Yards.

1. New York Yankees
2. Tampa Bay Rays (wildcard)
3. Boston Red Sox
4. Toronto Blue Jays
5. Baltimore Orioles

American League Central

Conventional wisdom says its Detroit and then everyone else. As to not upset that balance, I’ll stick with conventional wisdom. Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera, and Justin Verlander will spear the Tigers’ three-headed attack as they run away with this division.

1. Detroit Tigers
2. Kansas City Royals
3. Cleveland Indians
4. Minnesota Twins
5. Chicago White Sox

American League West

This division receive most of the media attention during the off-season thanks to three big transactions. Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson (the best player and best pitcher on the market) joined the Angels while the Texas Rangers replaced Wilson with Japanese import Yu Darvish. The race for division champion should be intriguing all summer long.

1. Texas Rangers
2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (wildcard)
3. Seattle Mariners
4. Oakland A’s

American League Awards

Cy Young: Felix Hernandez (Seattle). A return to dominance with a slightly improved offense behind him.

MVP: Josh Hamilton (Texas). It’s a contract year.

Yu Darvish

Rookie of the Year: Yu Darvish (Texas).

American League Playoffs

Wildcard play-in: Angels over Rays

Divisional Round: Rangers over Yankees; Tigers over Angels

League Championship Series: Rangers over Tigers (again)

National League East

A crazy thing happened this off-season. The now Miami Marlins spent money on free agents (Jose Reyes and Mark Buerhle notably). The Phillies and Braves appear strong as usual. Plus, the Nationals young core is ever-improving. The Mets, you say? Uh… Long season.

1. Philadelphia Phillies
2. Atlanta Braves (wildcard)
3. Miami Marlins
4. Washington Nationals
5. New York Mets

National League Central

Although this division is home to the defending champions, it looks much weaker from last season. The Brewers and Cardinals are worse (though still good teams), and no one else has really stepped it up. Can Dusty Baker manage the Reds back into the playoffs? I think so.

1. Cincinnati Reds
2. St. Louis Cardinals
3. Milwaukee Brewers
4. Pittsburgh Pirates
5. Chicago Cubs
6. Houston Astros

National League West

Tougher than the NL Central, the wild West usually produces a surprise contender each season. Maybe that occurs again, but regardless, this division is between the Giants and the Diamondbacks.

1. Arizona Diamondbacks
2. San Francisco Giants (wildcard)
3. Colorado Rockies
4. Los Angeles Dodgers
5. San Diego Padres

National League Awards

Cy Young: Cole Hamels (Philadelphia). He’ll prove how good he is before signing with the Dodgers in the off-season.

Tulo!

MVP: Troy Tulowitzki (Colorado). The best shortstop in the game has to win this award sometime. Better now than never.

Rookie of the Year: Bryce Harper (Washington). Yes, he’s not on the Opening Day roster, but he could easily be called up mid-season. There’s no one else really strong enough to win it right now.

National League Playoffs

Wild Card Play-in: Braves over Giants

Divisional Round: Diamondbacks over Braves; Phillies over Reds

League Championship Series: Diamondbacks over Phillies

World Series

Rangers over Diamondbacks (in 5 games).

Enjoy the next few days, America. Play ball!

2011-2012 College Basketball Preview Series – Memphis Tigers

If your favorite college football teams sucks (check) or your favorite baseball team is not playing in the Fall Classic (check) or you do not care to watch Tim Tebow’s first professional start (check), then it’s time to focus your attention to the hardwood. And since the NBA owners and players cannot come to an agreement, college hoops takes the center stage for the round ball junkie.

As experts of the college game, the writers here at EJSIC will be previewing certain teams (i.e. each writer’s favorite one) and all of the major conferences. We are also in the process of compiling our own preseason Top 25. Stay tuned in the coming weeks as we help you transition from Midnight Madness to opening tip-offs.

Setting the Stage

Head coach Josh Pastner enters his third season at the helm of the Tigers, and appears to have his best team yet. He returned everyone (sans the dismissed Jelan Kendrick) from the heralded 2010 recruiting class to which he adds another McDonald’s All-American (Adonis Thomas), a transfer from Seton Hall (Ferrakohn Hall), and JUCO transfer Stan Simpson.

A preseason favorite to capture the C-USA title, Memphis is expected to reach the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament in March. Will they do it?

Key Returners

As previously mentioned, Memphis retained all of that young talent last year that seemed to finally mold into a unit over three days in March in El Paso. Those include guards Joe Jackson, leading scorer Will Barton, Antonio Barton, Chris Crawford, and forward Tarik Black.

Memphis only features two seniors on its roster (Wesley Witherspoon and Charles Carmouche), so the Tigers are still relatively young. However, a year’s experience at the Division 1 level (including many struggles) should prove to be invaluable for the Tigers this year. They know what it takes to win at this level.

New Additions

Pastner continued to protect his home-base by securing the commitment of five star Adonis Thomas last year. Thomas, an athletic freak, will provide on-court leadership (yes, even as a freshman) through his desire to do anything to help the team. Need him to score points? He can do it. Need him to rebound and block shots? Not a problem. Defend a PF or a G? Sure thing.

Stan Simpson, a PF from Illinois, also arrived on campus in August. Memphis often struggled last season rebounding the ball, especially on the defensive end. Another forward to pair with Tarik Black will go a long way in rectifying the problem. Also, Ferrakohn Hall returned to his hometown after transferring from Seton Hall. Despite not being eligible until December 17, Hall should get enough minutes to make an impact.

A potentially underrated addition to the team was new strength and conditioning coach Frank Matrisciano, a/k/a Hell’s Trainer. There may not be a team in the country in better shape than the Tigers.

Biggest Problems

1. Defensive Rebounding: As previously stated, this was a major problem at times last season. Mostly, it was growing pains for the freshmen and a lack of upper-class leadership. Tarik Black was often asked to shoulder the rebounding load last season, but the new additions should help in that area. Plus, one of Will Barton’s most-hyped aspects was his ability to rebound as a guard. While he showed flashes at time, more consistency would relieve some of the pressure from the forwards.

2. Half Court Offense: The Tigers struggled for most of last season to consistently employ a half-court offense. At the risk of sounding redundant, it was mostly freshmen learning to play at a level they’ve never had to before. Still, Memphis will have to prove it’s matured in this area. While the Tigers will be one of the fastest and best teams in transitions, consistent success in the half-court is necessary for winning in March.

Schedule

ESPN.com and Sports Illustrated have each recently voted Memphis’ schedule as one of the best in the country, especially the non-conference portion. I must ask if any team has a tougher start to the season than Memphis?

The Tigers open with Belmont, a team that won 30 games last season and returned their key players. Then it’s off to Maui where the Tigers will play a top 20 team in Michigan. If they survive that game, Memphis will likely face Duke (unless Tennessee pulls an early season upset). UCLA, Georgetown, and Kansas could all be potential opponents, too.

Other non-conference games include trips to Miami, Louisville, and Georgetown plus hosting Tennessee and Xavier. Memphis will also face tests in the conference portion of the schedule against teams such as Marshall, UCF, and UAB.

Predictions

There’s really no reason Memphis cannot achieve a wins total into the high 20s or low 30s, and a trip to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. The talent is there for an even deeper run, but the Tigers have a few questions to answer before fans can genuinely expect more.

Prediction: 3 Seed in NCAA Tournament (29-5 record entering the tournament) reaching the Sweet Sixteen.

Bandwagoning Baseball’s Finality

Has your favorite baseball team been eliminated from post-season play? Do you remain reluctant to dive headfirst into football 24/7? Are you willing to set aside your normal allegiance for the next month and a half and bandwagon a contender for the sake of shit-talking and a possible faux championship?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, or preferably to all three, then it’s time for you to hop on the shoulders of a more successful fanbase a la Carlos Mencia’s “comedy” routine (yes, I just Mencia’d a Mencia joke). EJSIC is here to rank the possible teams on a scale of 1 to 10; 10 being fully bandwagon-worthy, 1 meaning we’d rather root for Hitler.

Let’s start with the American League and work our way through the pennant chasers there before exploring the National League.

Note: the author of this post is anti-DH, but in the interest of fairness will attempt to reasonably grade the AL teams instead of giving all of them the 1 they so deserve.

American League

1. New York Yankees: THE EVIL EMPIRE! That should be enough for you to realize that only intolerable douches and fans of the Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Lakers, and Duke Blue Devils (sorry, repetitive) “root” for these guys. Seriously, they’ve won more Fall Classics in baseball history than any other team. They also possess the deepest wallet, the NY superiority belief, and include Cleveland native LeBron James as a fan. Do NOT bandwagon under any circumstance. Score – 1

2. Boston Red Sox: The Sox are 2.5 games behind the Yankees for the East crown, but with a comfy 6.5 games up in the Wild Card they’re virtually in. This is the same franchise that defeated an eight-decade curse with two World Series titles since 2004. And when the core of that team aged too much, they went out and splashed Yankee-esque money this off-season. While I find them more root-worthy than their arch-rivals, there’s no need to really bandwagon them for their fans have been treated to championships in all four major sports this decade. Score – 2

Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em

3. Detroit Tigers: Detroit has slowly put the AL Central away over the second half of the season. Aside from playing in a collapsing shit-hole of a city, what’s not to like? They have a chain-smoking manager who puffs during games, an ace pitcher who could seemingly throw a no-hitter each time out, and an alcoholic first baseman. Sounds like a recipe for bandwagon awesomeness to me. The only downside? They’re in the same league as the Yankees and Red Sox so a championship is unlikely to come this season. Regardless, you’ll have a good time. Score – 8

4. Texas Rangers: The defending AL Champs refueled after losing ace Cliff Lee to free agency, and yet they’re right here again. If you like offensive baseball, the Rangers are your team. They’ve crossed home 737 times this season, third best in baseball behind the Yankees and Sox. They also maintain a relatively unknown squad. Some guys (like Michael Young and Josh Hamilton) are known nationally, but many of their better players have yet to receive a lot of national pub (Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz). So if your choice is the Rangers, it would help to do some research and not unveil yourself as a bandwagoner within the first five minutes. Score – 7

5. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Really, these guys should get a one for having the worst name in baseball. Pick a damn city. I could also give them a one for the owner complaining after whiffing on free agent Carl Crawford this season despite the fact that the Angels have plenty of money themselves. You lost out to a better organization, STFU and get over it. However, the Angels assumed an underdog role this season winning ball games with great pitching. Their offensively challenged team has scored 586 runs to date, the worst of any AL challengers. They’re also 2.5 games back of the Rangers so they have some work to do. Score – 4 Continue reading

Three Wolves T-Shirt and the Philosophical Ramifications Thereof

You may have seen the infamous “three wolves moon” t-shirt by now. It’s a 5-star product at the electronic supermarket known as Amazon.com and with its appearance in last night’s episode of The Office, sported by none other than Dwight K. Schrute; it only stands to grow even more in popularity.

A little research into the shirt reveals a subculture which believes it possesses mystical powers of sexual seduction. Can this phenomenon really be true? Surely it takes more than a man’s shirt to attract a woman.

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As a guy who considers himself fashionable, yet not to the point of obsession and GQ subscription, I always considered the shirt one of horrible taste. Frankly, I thought of the shirt as Billy Madison would: “If I caught myself in clothes like that, I’d have to kick my own ass.” I can picture someone of Native American heritage wearing it or even the super-nerd persona played by Rainn Wilson on The Office, but not anyone of reputable dress.

Now, let’s get back to the subculture surrounding the shirt. To the proud owners, it is transcendent; a sign of power and allure. For evidence, let us look at a few of the customer comments on Amazon. B. Govern of New Jersey writes: “This item has wolves on it which makes it intrinsically sweet and worth 5 stars by itself, but once I tried it on, that’s when the magic happened.”

The only thing which could make it better, according to Govern, is more wolves and ones that glow in the dark. Does nothing else say “blow me” to a chick better than glowing wolves on a guy’s shirt? At least, for B. Govern, apparently not.

While our friend B.G. may have been the first to discover the value, he is certainly not alone. T. Guymon of Anaheim, CA is “swimming in a sea of babes the likes of which are usually found on those K-Tel infomercials. I’m also more confident at work, and expect to be promoted to cashier soon. I owe everything to this shirt.”

How is this possible? Are the universal laws enough to explain it? Can Newtonian science make another breakthrough (hurry, someone revive Sir Isaac)? It seems impossible to me that the shirt has any powers of sexual seduction, but there’s only one way to find out.

Yes, in the name of humanity, I will be performing an experiment. I will purchase the shirt and wear it in public a few times. I will also report back to the blog with my experiences: the good and the bad. My curiosity is now at critical mass. I must know if the shirt has the power its owners claim. I encourage any reader out there to do the same and to leave your experiences in the comment sections of my updates.

I expect to wear the shirt about five or six times at various public places in order to fully gauge the influence the t-shirt may or may not hold. I will be looking for the following:

  1. Does the number of females who approach me increase or decrease?
  2. Does the shirt boost my own self-confidence or change the way I feel when wearing it?
  3. Does the number of times of sexual intercourse increase or decrease when wearing this shirt?
  4. Are non-wolf-shirt-wearing males intimidated by my presence?
  5. Finally, do I achieve greater than normal success in class and work?

Let the experimenting begin. My next update on this series will follow the day after my first public appearance in it. Wish me luck.