The month of March is now history, but the "madness" still continues in college (NCAA) basketball as we approach the “final four” this Saturday and Monday. We'll steel ourselves for a last round of the constant "Dee-Fence" cheer, or the letter D with the picket fence held up by fanatic fans. Does that continuous shouting really help their team play better defense? Do the players on the court become more technically aware because the fans are reminding them to do so?
Maybe that endless yelling and screaming is a way for the fans to let off steam and create excitement for their players. You never hear the word "offense" or "dribble-pass-shoot" chanted; those skills are essential to scoring. Defense has become the Holy Grail in college basketball. How did the plan of preventing an opponent from scoring vanish? With a few exceptions, there's not much evidence of defense throughout the NCAA.
The style of play is far different in today's game than it was several years ago. Speed, agility, finesse and outmaneuvering the opponent has been replaced by a physical contact game which is not what Mr. Naismith had in mind when he hung the peach baskets on the balcony in Springfield. The "dunk" is not my favorite style of play. If you are six feet, it takes only a minimal amount of jumping ability with your hands up to dunk a basketball. The lay-up, if any of you remember the term, is gone. Even a player in the clear on a fast break is likely to try to slam the ball through the hoop, which originated the term "slam-dunk"--so much for the skill of throwing the ball through the hoop. The accent now is on individual feats of athleticism.
When I was on the rules committee, I campaigned tirelessly to have the dunk value reduced to one point. That would have put an end to this type of shot which requires little or no basketball skill. Needless to say, I lost the battle, but “he who fights and runs, lives to fight another day.”
Most of those who participate in sport are superstitious. Those who say they are not still “play it safe” by repeating certain actions. A player about to shoot a free-throw will bounce the ball several times and spin it or take other actions according to his ritual prior to the throw. These days toward the end of a close game, you will see players on the bench locking arms. While it may not help their teammates on the floor, they believe it is a show of unity. Moral support perhaps, but isn't that sort of behavioral voo-doo best left to the fans?
The TV monitor at the scorers' table plays a prominent role in today's game. Some replays are acceptable for accuracy. However, for determining whether or not a foul is flagrant, the replay used in today's game may open a door that might remain open needlessly. I believe it’s best to keep the game active among the three teams on the court…the two basketball teams…and the officials.
Please Email or call me with your thoughts/concerns about today's basketball madness?
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