Fixes for College basketball

college_basketball

I watched a bunch of college basketball on Saturday and I saw quite a few games with final scores in the 50s. It’s hard for me to believe but teams in the ’90s used to score 100 regularly. Once teams started playing quality opponents regularly this season I can’t think of anybody outside of Kentucky that has scored 100 points much less both teams in the same game.

This is an offense problem and a pace of play problem. A lot of people blame this on the belief that players are less skilled because they don’t stay in school as long. I don’t think that is accurate; if it was, would Kentucky be rampaging through their regular season schedule right now?

I believe a couple of rule changes would rectify these problems:

1. 28 Second Shot Clock

Thirty-five seconds is too damn long. San Diego State yesterday waited till the end of the clock to get a shot up all game against Boise State. It would be one thing if every team was like Wisconsin and got a good shot up, but most of the time it was “Crap there are 5 seconds left on the clock, I’m going to hoist up a wild three that will carom off the back board.” Shave off 7 seconds and I think it will encourage players to shoot faster.

2. Defensive 3 seconds

Teams just pack the paint all day long in college. I would do the defensive 3 seconds just like the NBA: it’s a free throw and the ball. You don’t call it all the time but often enough to keep people honest. The offense of most teams at this point is drives and threes. Making driving a little easier would help the other.

3. Three timeouts per half total

The last 2 minutes of a college basketball game are agonizing with timeouts and clock reviews. At this point Pandora is out of the box with reviews, but we can limit all these timeouts. I would add that coaches who don’t use a timeout in the first half get an extra one in the second half.

4. Fewer games

Teams are playing 12 and 13 non-conference games. Cut that number in half. The first game of the college basketball season doesn’t start until football conference championship games are over; that was the second week in December this past year. Trust me, no casual fans are paying attention before then. I think conference tournaments are kind cool, but in the monster conferences is there a reason to have everybody play each other if there an end of season tournament? I think fewer games helps keep people fresh and would maybe increase offense.

5. Realign conferences

At this point, everyone understands that college football rules the roost for money and prestige in college sports, but why let football screw up all of these rivalries in basketball? First, put the band back together in the Big East. No Big East fan I ever met wanted that conference to disband when it was time for basketball (Boston College goes back to the Big East). Mizzou and Texas A&M go back to the Big 12 and Maryland goes back to the ACC (although Louisville makes sense in the ACC).

For college basketball, have the conferences make sense geographically — again I think this difference in travel will make players less tired and hopefully more offensively fruitful. SMU was meeting UCONN today for the fifth time in the history of both schools and UCONN had never won. The appropriate response to that factoid is “Who gives a crap?” or “Why the Hell are SMU and UCONN?” playing each other again?”

Time to bench Maty Mauk?

mauk_bowtie

Maty Mauk went 6-for-18 with 20 yards and an interception yesterday against Florida. He was 9-for-21 with 97 yards and four picks against Georgia. He was 12-for-34 for 132 yards and (by the grace of God) zero interceptions against South Carolina. That’s three putrid games in a row. With Mizzou’s style of offense, a 50 percent completion rate is not too much to ask for.

Now the Tigers won two of those games against South Carolina and Florida. Pretty much everyone else was stellar against UF yesterday, but you cannot expect to get two defensive touchdowns and two return touchdowns every week.

It’s weird. In the NFL, where you get to keep your players for as long as you’re willing to pay them, I think Mauk would have been benched already. In college there is more thought put into ruining a guy’s confidence because Mauk might be our best option next year. He’s only a redshirt sophomore. Chase Daniel, Blaine Gabbert and James Franklin all went through growing pains when they went to full-time duty (Gabbert a little less so but he threw slants and screens all-day long to Danario Alexander, who was a monster that season).

Then again Mizzou has an outside chance of winning the SEC east. The Tigers need Georgia to lose to someone, Florida on Nov. 1 would be perfect but unlikely (because Florida’s offense was even more of a train wreck than Mizzou’s yesterday). Tennessee in Knoxville, Texas A&M in College Station, Kentucky at home and Arkansas at home are all winnable games — Vandy at home is an absolute must win. But winning any of those games is a dubious proposition if Mauk can’t complete passes.

Mizzou’s other options at QB are Corbin Berkstresser and Eddie Printz. After seeing Berkstresser flub multiple games during Franklin’s injury woes two years ago, I’m not enthused about seeing the redshirt junior back in action, but he’s big — 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds — and has experience. Printz is a redshirt freshman but just a little bit smaller than Berkstresser — 6-foot-2 and 215 — and he was highly touted recruit.

The book is out on Mauk. It reads, rush him up the middle, watch him flee the pocket and then wait for an ill-advised pass on the run. If Printz is the eventual answer, next week against an over-matched Vanderbilt team may not be a bad time for his first start.