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.

The Year of the “Half-and-Done”

Move over, ‘Melo.

Derrick Rose?  Kevin Durant?  John Wall?  Next.

The days of the infamous “One-and-Done” college basketball player are behind us.  Welcome to the dawn of the “Half-and-Done-ers.”

Josh Selby donned #32 for Kansas literally dozens of times in his career

To the surprise of nobody, Kansas Freshman guard, Josh Selby, announced today – via Twitter – that he will forgo his sophomore, junior and senior seasons and enter this June’s NBA draft.  This on the heels of last week’s announcement out of Durham, NC which saw Duke guard, Kyrie Irving take the same step.

Due to the NBA’s age restriction, we have witnessed a host of talented players pass, briefly, through the ranks of amateurs for a full season while they placed their dreams of professional basketball on hold for one, often spectacular year.   It’s not a new phenomenon.

But most of these players PLAYED an entire season in college before heading off to richer pastures.  So, the announcements from Selby and Irving offer a rare glimpse at two young players who both missed significant portions of their one and only collegiate season.  Selby missed the first 9 games of the season awaiting the NCAA’s decision on his eligibility…and then 3 additional games later in the season due to a foot injury.  Irving missed the last 3 months of the regular season for the Blue Devils before returning in the NCAA Tournament.

On the bright side, he never had to learn how to spell "Krzyzewski"

 

In their short time on the court, each player made contributions to their team.  Irving was second on the team in points per game (17.5) and assists per game (4.3) while playing and was a significant factor for Mike Krzyzewski’s squad.  Selby, while never finding the stride he showed when he was so heavily recruited out of high school, showed flashes of the player he could be with impressive offensive numbers in several games for the Jayhawks.

 

But, both Selby and Irving – rivals.com’s No. 1 and 2 point guards, respectively, in the 2010 class – played partial seasons at best.  And, now that their time in college is done, they can move on to bigger (richer) and better (MUCH richer) things without leaving too much of an impact at all on the college game.

Here’s hoping they both get more of a chance to show the nation what they’re capable of at the next level.

 

Luke Warm Linkage

Maybe Stephen Hawking IS one of the aliens that will enslave humanity. That would explain why he knows it’s coming, right? Right? Sigh…

LeBron mistreats ball boy?

While waiting to check back into a playoff game in Cleveland’s first round series against the Bulls, LeBron tosses his warm-ups to the floor despite the ball boy waiting with a hand out beside him? Was he being a dick, or did LeBron just not see the guy there? You be the judge (video below).

All I know is that as LeBron’s career has progressed, more and more evidence has surfaced to contradict some of the positive views the national media has shed on him. That said, I’m willing to give LeBron the benefit of the doubt. He’s not explicitly looking at the ball boy, and perhaps it was an oversight on his part. Whatever really happened, it does not look that good for LBJ.

If you disagree or just want to bash the Cav’s superstar, do so in our comments section below.

Like Sands Through the Hourglass…

It's going to be a dramatic off-season in Lexington.

…The Kentucky basketball roster is shrinking by the second.

As many expected, Daniel Orton has declared for the NBA draft without hiring an agent, so he would have the option to return to UK should he not like what he hears. Talk to his father, though, and you’d be hard pressed to imagine Daniel being a Wildcat next Fall.

Larry Vaught of the Advocate Messenger interviewed Larry Orton, who had this to say:

“Daniel is going into the draft,”  his father, Larry Orton, said Wednesday.  ”He’s going into training. He’s going to drop his classes just in case he needs to come back (to UK), but the plan is for him to be in the draft.”

Someone should tell Larry that dropping courses this late in the semester is called “dropping out”. He continued:

“He has a lot of stuff people have not seen. If he had played more, he would have made DeMarcus look bad. I am not saying that because he is my son. It s just that I know what he can do. He’s very smart and very skilled.”

I’m pretty sure that Shaq wouldn’t make DeMarcus Cousins look bad, Larry. Put down the crack pipe.

To recap, not only is Daniel Orton leaving UK after averaging a staggering 3.4 points per game, but he’s also going to drop out of school and move to California to train for the draft. John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and Patrick Patterson can finish out their semesters, but Daniel is apparently too busy for that. Hello, scholarship reductions.

But wait… There’s more…

Kentucky Sports Radio is reporting that Darnell Dodson will also be entering the draft. Here’s what they had to say:

The second tidbit told to me was that Darnell Dodson would not be on the team next season. I looked into this for some time and cant get total confirmation, but all signs seemed to point to this being accurate. Then tonight, DraftExpress.com said that Demarcus Cousins told people in Columbus that Dodson was going to the NBA as well and that only four returning players would be on the UK roster.

It’s just laughable at this point. Between graduation and the draft, UK will likely lose Wall, Cousins, Patterson, Bledsoe, Orton, Dodson, Stevenson, Krebs, and Harris. That’s nine players from a 13 player roster. That leaves Josh Harrelson, Darius Miller, John Hood and DeAndre Liggins as the only returning scholarship players with Stacey Poole and Enes Kanter as incoming freshmen.

Obviously, it’s not all gloom and doom for UK fans, as the Cats will likely sign as many as six more players. These signings should include #1 overall recruit Brandon Knight, as well as some combination of high school stars C.J. Leslie, Terrance Jones, Terrance Ross, Doron Lamb, Luke Cothron and Josh Selby. Based on Calipari’s track record, you’d have to think he signs at least 3 from that group.

Even in a best case scenario, though, the Cats will be looking at another year of a group of very talented but very young players holding the key to their season. This much turnover every year is not going to be sustainable moving forward.

Regardless, it’s going to be a Soap Opera Spring in Big Blue country.