Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The deteriorating quality of basketball play

Luke Winn, in a column, wrote: "Scoring will continue to trend downward, hitting yet another low for the shot clock era and forcing the NCAA to have serious talks about fixing the problem. The NCAA can't demand that its coaches play faster basketball, but it can make bigger efforts to cut down on physical play that restricts movement, and bring the shot clock down to 30 seconds. I don't expect those changes to actually go into effect in 2013, but with final scores in the 50s and 60s becoming all too prevalent, new rules will at least be up for discussion, rather than existing only in sportswriters' fantasies."

Yep, large swaths of college games are cringeworthy.

The shot clock can be reduced and football-like tactics on the court penalized but how does that alter the deteriorating quality of skills at all levels?

Have you noticed the number of bad shots this season (although certainly not new to 2012) in the high school and college ranks, meaning those attempts after a single pass or none, regardless of time on the shot clock and level of defensive pressure?

But just as glaring is the must-go-to-the-basket as the nowadays pre-programmed offensive foray. It's direct yourself to the hoop and get a shot up, any shot despite the number of defenders, consideration of height and jumping prowess plus ability to create separation. The mind set appears to be additional points will be rewarded for degree of difficulty.

Yet the percentage for successfully employing this maneuver lessens with each step up the proverbial ladder -- varsity basketball, community college ranks, D-I, D-II and NAIA, the play-for-pay level -- as the opponents become taller, stronger and more adept at preventing or altering close in shot attempts.

Then there is shooting consistency, both from the field and foul line. There is scholarship money for the taking for those whose best and maybe sole asset is catching the pass, squaring up and sinking the shot. The three point shot has opened up recruiting to those with such a proficiency. So why are shooting percentages from distance going down? And don't get me started on points frittered away at the foul line. Those are gimmes and Ms. Manners says all presents should be accepted.

It's also alarming viewing the lack of dribbling prowess on display. This is an aspect that takes no special equipment to improve on but it appears a lack of working under defensive pressure on improving this particular skill is not happening nearly enough. Every kid goes between his legs with the ball during warmups so that element has been 'mastered' but start pressing and it's "I don't want the ball, you bring it up" time for too many.

Finally, there's the concept of spacing. Is it being taught? Yes, but maybe just not grasped enough? It's not exactly rocket science that one defender can better work against two opponents bunched together than apart but it takes a level of court awareness by five guys to not only be where they are supposed to be but on time. Synchronicity is a wonderful element to behold but doesn't have to be limited to a once in a blue moon appearance.

Yes, call me the cranky old guy from the peach basket days but I want, no make that need, some of the beauty back in the roundball game.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

With guys as big as they are now, the court is so crowded and there's not much room for players to get open. I think a change to 4-on-4 instead of 5-on-5 would really open up the floor.