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3.16.2006

The College Game


With March Madness set to begin, I would like to share an observation about the college game: All they do is foul!

I'm usually on my own to defend the NBA game against the college game when discussing hoops with my friends. One of the key points college fans consistently make is that the college kids play a lot harder and with more intensity, which leads to better team defensive efforts.

I'll skirt the "they play harder and with more intensity" argument, and instead focus on the effects of the high-intensity, over-aggressive defensive result: it's killing the game. I've been watching more college hoops recently than I have in years (no league pass) and nothing bothers me more than the constant fouling on the defensive side of the ball. On any given possession, I would guess the defense commits anywhere from 4 to 8 fouls. Reaching, nudging, holding, grabbing, shoving... little of which is called. The officials are naturally reluctant to blow their whistles when they see all of these infractions, the game would take 3 hours to play and half of the players would foul out were the rulebook honored.

So the fouling continues, and offensive basketball suffers. I really think one of the reasons today's players attempt so many three-point shots is because a catch-and-shoot from beyond the arc is one of the few offensive plays where a foul can usually be avoided. The three is the greatest opportunity to score without compromised rules effecting your success. Well, that and the fact a bonus point is awarded for the same shot these 20 year-olds took when they were on the Junior High JV team.

The greater problem in all of this is the trickle-down effect it is taking. Players no longer understand what good defense is. The whole concept is flying over the heads of those who play basketball on any level, including young players just getting started. What's worse is that cleaning up this mess is at the mercy of the enablers - Refs.

When you tune in this weekend to see how you're making out with your bracket, give the defensive side of the ball a look. See how the officials turn a blind eye to contact initiated by defenders. Listen to how the commentators reward high-contact defense by translating it into intensity and aggressive play. Enjoy the hack-fest!

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It sounds like you've been watching a lot of the Big East, Big Ten and Duke.

Cincinnati plays defense.
 
Or maybe you were watching SusCom 4 and mistakenly thought it was the college game?

With announcers that are such pros like Kevin Draughbaugh, that is an easy mistake to make.
 

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