Fixes for College basketball

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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?”

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Time to bench Maty Mauk?

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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.

Thoughts on Mizzou’s Victory Yesterday

NCAA Football: Missouri at Toledo

Encouraging:

1. We beat a ranked SEC team on the road. So far, in our short history in the SEC, we’ve done that once and it was an over-confidant, injury-riddled Georgia team last year.

2. It was really nice to have a heartbreaking loss go the other way for once. South Carolina’s defense was dominant the whole way and it took was two drives for us to take the lead. It was good revenge considering how the Gamecocks beat us in Como last year. On second thought, not quite on the same scale. That game was in overtime. Mizzou had a 17-0 lead going into overtime … alright that’s enough no need to relive it further.

3. The Mizzou defense looked great. I would go as far as to say Mizzou outplayed SC on d, considering how much more often the Tigers were on the field. It’s really difficult to block Makcus Golden and Shane Ray on the same play and we really missed Golden last week against Indiana. Our linebackers — Kentrell Brothers and Michael Scherer in particular — were very good, wrapped up runners very quickly. Even the somewhat maligned secondary played excellent with the exception of a few wide open receivers.

4. I hope Indiana upsets someone in the Big 10. They play Michigan State for homecoming Oct. 18 (fingers crossed). Still, Mizzou’s inability to stop the run last week was in part because Indiana’s quarterback was a good runner (not many of those on the east side of the SEC) and that they ran a very good blocking scheme.

5. It sounds like both Jimmie Hunt and Darius White should be back for the Oct. 11 game against Georgia. I think they are both better receivers than Bud Sasser and their return would have to help the offense.

6. If Mizzou can beat Georgia (a big if), the Tigers will be in the driver’s seat in the SEC east.

7. By the transitive property, Mizzou should be able to beat Georgia in Como considering the Bulldogs lost at Columbia, SC.

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Discouraging:

1. So the Tigers did a great job stopping the run yesterday, but what are they going to do against Todd Gurley, who is really in a league of his own as far as a Heisman candidate. Our salvation might be how boring Georgia is running the ball; the Bulldogs use very little misdirection. We’d be lucky to hold Gurley to 100 yards rushing.

2. Maty Mauk’s stench kind of threw off the fact that Dylan Thompson was pretty terrible yesterday. Can we expect Hutson Mason to be equally awful? Georgia’s receivers will be better than South Carolina’s. I think it’s fair to say, even though they were ranked, that South Carolina is worse than anybody expected.

3. Wow was the offense bad yesterday. I think you can point to Mauk for a lot of the struggles; I think his completion percentage was like 20 percent (it was actually 35 percent). He needs to stay in the pocket longer. Most of the time we had decent pass protection that Mauk ran out of. Mizzou started to click when South Carolina stopped blitzing (I have no idea why they did that and I doubt Georgia’s D coordinator would make that type of mistake). I do think play calling was a factor as well. It took us way too long to figure out we need to attack with long passes.

4. With two of our receivers hurt, why did we not try to throw to our running backs more? I think we need more formations where Marcus Murphy and Russell Hansbrough (at one point yesterday Brad Nessler called him Tyler) are in the game at the same time. In general, we need to get Hansbrough the ball more. His three touchdowns were not an aberration — he was a beast all game.

5. Man does that loss to Indiana look bad now, especially because the Hoosiers got clowned by Maryland yesterday, 37-15.

The Most Annoying Things About College Football

While I like college football more than the NFL these days, it is still a fountain overflowing with irritating happenstance, often celebrated by particular fans.

Without further ado, a few of my least favorite things.

5. Heisman Trophy Talk

2011 Heisman Trophy Winner Portraits

No other trophy is as celebrated for meaning so little, even Grammys there’s usually some buffer — well all of these great artists didn’t win a Grammy. There are no apologies for the Heisman — nobody ever comes out and says maybe we shouldn’t have given it to Troy Smith, Jason White or Eric Crouch. And then announcers talk about it in the first couple games of the season, like its not a completely arbitrary selection process. Sometimes they get it right, like Cam Newton, but comparing their success rate to blind squirrels is an insult to all visually impaired rodents.

4. Nick Saban and “the process”

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First off, Nick Saban is a great coach. He wins all the time. But, “the process,” as he calls it, is grade A bologna. Saban does not have a premium on discipline; I doubt his practices or preparation or game plans are really much different from most other college coaches. Saban has compiled such a sterling record at Alabama because he recruits the best players. He can recruit the best players because he won a championship at LSU and was a coach in the NFL long enough for a cup of coffee. He has name recognition and notoriety.

3. Notre Dame’s Persistent Academic Double Talk

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You’ve all heard it. “It’s so hard to recruit at Notre Dame because our academic standards are so stringent.” Sure Notre Dame is a fine institution of learning, but in the words of Miss Mona Lisa Vito, the defense does not hold water. So you’re saying your academic standards keep you from recruiting players like Richard Sherman, David DeCastro, Coby Fleener and Doug Baldwin, how come all of those guys went to Stanford? Isn’t Stanford a higher rated school than you guys? On this list Stanford is at No. 4 and Notre Dame is at 16. That’s weird. Are you saying Stanford doesn’t care about academics as much as Notre Dame? How about all you golden domers just admit that you haven’t been that good at football over the last two decade and stop with the humblebrag excuses.

2. Florida State’s Tomahawk Chop

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None of the pieces of this celebration would be that annoying in isolation. It’s when you put together — the hand motion, chant and fight song — and then repeat incessantly throughout a contest it becomes a stew of grating chum. A lot of teams do this type of celebration just after touchdowns — Kansas State for instance has the Wabash Cannonball, which they do like two or three times a game. Last night, FSU only scores 17 points and I’m still listening to a chorus chanting ohs like ever few minutes. The weird thing is, Seminoles as a team name, not racist — the tribe itself supports it — but the chant in the tomahawk chop is a little demeaning. Damnit I want to like FSU more than Florida. My team, Mizzou, has to play Florida every year and Tallahassee is closer to where I live. But the tomahawk chop makes it difficult.

1. The Oklahoma Fight Song

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Fight songs are innately annoying, especially your own when your team is losing as I experienced with Mizzou yesterday. But the Oklahoma fight song is a special breed. Heard once and it scratches the ear drums like a knife blade on a metal cookie sheet. However, the OU fight song is like Lays potato chips to a 500 pound man. Every first down, every tackle — you hear it over and over. In my version of Hell, the Oklahoma fight song will be pumped straight into my brain as the devil shocks my testicles with a cattle prod.