A lot of the talk after last night’s Championship game was about the officiating. No, really it’s about how bad it was. I think that is great because this conversation has been a long time coming and is desperately needed.
Yet any conversation about any topic starts with the premises and these are mine:
- The best basketball is fast basketball. Speed kills I like to say in business and in sport.
- Officials are not charged with being fair. They are charged with: Keeping the game safe and enforcing the rules so that a fair contest occurs.
- In the words of Bill Russell, Basketball is not a collision game, but it is a contact game.
- The speed of the players has made many of the officials obsolete. IE the officials are too slow and too old.
- Officials are major factors in the outcomes of games and fans, players, coaches and journalists need to understand that and in fact support it. The idea of, "let the players decide" eventually devolves into the ideas such as…well that was a foul for the last 38 minutes plus every game ever played before (Yes, that is you Digger), but not the last two minutes of this game or if we commit so many fouls then the refs will only call the worst ( Yes, that is you Coach Pitino) and we gain a huge advantage or well number 4 has four fouls so give his fifth to the nearest guy on the floor wearing the same uniform (Yes, John Thompson we both know what game I am talking about) with less than 4 fouls. ..
Now last night’s game was so badly officiated that, perversely, it was almost fair, but don’t believe it. There were collisions not called, officials couldn’t keep up, and officials did affect the outcome with bad calls that affected Burke and a mysterious placement of a foul on someone not named Hancock.
Enough, here are my suggestions. Enjoy. Rip them apart.
Old Rules That Need to Be Enforced
- Call the walks. Call all of them.
- Call three seconds. The line is part of the lane, if your big toe is on the line you are in the lane.
- Call carries. Lexington’s own Tim Hardaway had an unstoppable crossover at UTEP and in the NBA. However, for all his speed and quickness the move was unstoppable because he carried the ball on everyone single one of them.
- Call double dribbles. For years I have complained that decades ago the rule was: if the ball hits your hand and then hits the floor that is your dribble. There was none of this passing to oneself or knocking down a pass, picking it up and then dribbling. Or fumbling the ball across the lane like someone for Michigan did last night. The play looked like a fumblerooski.
- This is a modification of an old rule, except for shooting fouls make the first ten fouls one and ones. However, from eleven fouls on the team that was fouled has the option of shooting two or taking the ball out of bounds.
- A hand check on the ball is a foul. The NBA cleaned it up, so can the NCAA.
- Bring back the jump ball after tie ups.
Not Old Rules, but Not Really New Rules
- You cannot tie up someone from behind or the side with one arm. That is a foul. Call it.
- End most of the diving onto the floor, first one from each team is fine, the second one from either team is a foul. (Why am I thinking of Duke?)
- While five seconds doesn’t start when the ball goes through the net, it starts a couple seconds or so later. Start the counts sooner. None of this sashaying to the ball, fondling it, looking at the spelling (So that is how you spell Wilson?) checking the label and then beginning to get ready to inbound it. I don’t know what the rule should be, but would be fine with the fourth official having another clock that he starts when the ball goes through the net.
- Stop allowing timeouts when lying on the floor or otherwise under duress. You want a timeout take one, but take it before you dribble into or pass into trouble. Reward the defense for their effort.
- A shirt or shorts tug is a foul. Any questions?
- This flagrant foul rule has gotten out of hand. Personally I think the structure of the rule and the penalties are about right, but need tweaking. A player has to be as responsible for his head as another player is for his elbow. (I can’t help it if you are shorter than me and when I pivot my elbow hits you in the head. )
- Stop allowing coaches to have huddles out on the floor. The floor gets wet and time is wasted setting up chairs, taking down chairs and cleaning up. You have a bench, use it. If this means a row of seats behind the bench has to be removed, so be it.
- When a timeout is called, a clock starts. When the clock expires, a horn blows and the ball is ready for play. First warning is for fifteen seconds left and the second warning is: five seconds starts and the ball can go into play. Whether both teams are on the floor or not.
- Basketball needs to change the rotation of officials. These guys cannot keep up. I suggest the NCAA experiment with a soccer type rotation where there is a "center" who officiates the game between the fouls lines. Then there are two "linesmen" that officiate below the foul line. Unlike in soccer the center would not run a diagonal, but would stay on one side of the floor which means the "linesmen" would both be on the other side. To be clear I don’t know if this is a good idea, but think it should be looked at. I am certain that the game at each of the floor would be more consistently officiated during a half.
- Consider going a step further and assign not only areas of the floor to each official, but as in hockey certain things they can and cannot call. EG Say the center ref calls fouls between the foul lines and the "linesmen" call the fouls below the foul line. Or say that the linesman at the opposite end has responsibility for goal tending calls. He has the best view.
- Again, I don’t know exactly what the rule should be, but something needs to change.
- Go to the World rule on turnovers. Other team grabs the ball and inbounds from the nearest sideline without an official needing to touch it. This speeds up the play and reduces the opportunity for whining. Get up, get going, and shut up.
- Go to a four quarter system in the college game. End these "official" timeouts on the fours. Make the break between the 1st and 2nd and 3rd and 4th quarters a three or four minute break. This will give time for players to recover and for TV to sell stuff without these silly situations where a timeout was called at say 8:02 and four seconds later there is another because of the 8 minute "official" timeout.
- Then force coaches to use their timeouts or lose them. TV will want stoppages during the quarter, so give each team five TO’s, but on a use it or lose it basis. You don’t call one in Q1, you lose it. Don’t call one in Q2, you lose it. In essence each team has a timeout for each of the first three quarters and two for the fourth quarter. In this situation all TO’s would be full TO’s and there thirty second timeout is history.
- I really don’t know what to do about the block charge other than to say the more of a collision it is, the more likely it is a charge. The NBA works, but there are several related rules that help it work.
- Or get rid of the dunk and many of the problems go away.
Just the thoughts of an old guy from the Dark and Bloody Ground, have fun discussing them. Or not.