Why "Length"?

Pack It In, Billy!

9th-Grade 3-Point Arc

What's the Point of These Conference Tournaments?

THE Problem with LSU Basketball

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Biased Basketball Opinions - I

Biased Opinion 3/26/07: Why "Length"?

Who put out the memo to basketball announcers to substitute the word "length" for "height"? Numerous times I've heard an analyst say that a team's or a player's "length" will cause the opponent trouble. Is the change an attempt to emphasize that tall players also have long arms? Did that fact suddenly become apparent to someone at the top of CBS Sports or ESPN? Perhaps rosters should now list "Arm Length" for each player.

Biased Opinion 3/17/07: Pack It In, Billy!

In the latest ESPN The Magazine, Bill Simmons writes his column on Billy Packer. Some excerpts:

Billy Packer has provided color for every Final Four game and every NCAA championship game since 1975. ... He loves dissecting strategies and he understands the sport as well as anyone. He's always impeccably prepared. He has a knack for pointing out things before they happen. His arguments are usually well-reasoned. And he certainly doesn't sugarcoat his opinions and isn't afraid to take an unpopular stance. ... Every February and March you can count on ... Packer's turning himself into a national story, as if a little alarm goes off to remind him, "Wait, it's getting close to spring and I haven't ticked anyone off yet."
Packer actually started early this year, making headlines for downplaying the vicious Gerald Henderson elbow that broke Tyler Hansbrough's nose ..., adamantly maintaining that the blow was unintentional even as the replays repeatedly defied him. Like always with Packer, it wasn't the opinion as much as the way he expressed it: He was condescending, stern, inflexible. In Packer's world, he's always right, and everyone else is always wrong. ... Everything backfired last March when he ridiculed them [the NCAA Selection Committee] ... for including too many Missouri Valley teams, and two of them made the Elite Eight.
Here's the problem: Packer loves basketball a little too much. He doesn't grasp its entertainment value simply because he can't see it. ... When NBC teamed him with Dick Enberg and Al McGuire in the late 1970s, McGuire's sense of humor balanced out Packer ... That's why they're remembered as one of the best TV teams ever.
And it's not like Packer is Mr. Popularity. ... At the 2005 ACC tournament in DC, Packer was honored for his body of TV work at halftime ... and the arena booed him as if he were a WWE villain.
Many people (including me) believe he's a humorless know-it-all and a curmudgeon, and we're exhausted by his schtick. ... No offense, Billy, but 32 years is more than enough.

My opinion: Amen, Brother Bill Simmons!

FOLLOW-UP: Packer's contract was not renewed in the summer of 2008.

Biased Opinion 3/10/07: 9th-Grade 3-Point Arc

I like basketball, especially college basketball. However, it will never be my favorite sport for any number of reasons I won't go into here. However, one thing that bothers me about college basketball is this:


I favor extending the college arc to the international distance which would provide a natural progression from high school to college to pro. Supposedly, a major reason for putting the three-point arc at its current location (which, I believe, is the way it has been since its introduction in the mid-80s except for some experimentation in some games in a few seasons) is to give teams without a dominant big man a better chance at victory. However, very few teams have dominant big men any more. The recent NBA rules change has resulted in players like Greg Oden playing at least one year of college. However, moving the arc further out would open more room inside the circle for driving and prevent teams from packing a zone quite as much. And it would make room for more of the traditional post play that we see little of any more.

FOLLOW-UP: The NCAA moved the 3-point line further out for the 2008-9 season but not as far as the International line.

Biased Opinion 3/1/07: What's the Point of These Conference Tournaments?

I am not a fan of conference basketball tournaments. I don't see the point in playing the entire conference season just to end up having the same teams play each other again. In many cases, teams are playing for the third time. Many years ago, the rationale given for the tournaments was that they were a way to get conferences an extra team or two into the NCAA tournament. Conferences didn't want the regular season winner to win the tournament so that both the regular season champ and the tournament champ would make the Big Dance. However, without making a detailed study of tournaments the past ten years, I would say that as many times as not a conference tournament may eliminate a team from the NCAA as easily as qualify a new one. I particularly feel for a team in a small conference that dominates its competition with a 16-0 or 15-1 regular season record only to be upset in the tournament and not make the NCAA at all. The NCAA is trying to ease this situation by guaranteeing the regular season champions of some conferences an NIT bid if they don't make the NCAA. Overall, I'd much rather see an extra week of intersectional play (early in January since the conference season could be pushed back a week) rather than watching the same teams play each other again.

Biased Opinion 2/3/07: THE Problem with LSU Basketball

LSU's men's basketball team has just lost its fifth straight SEC game. From Final Four to NIT or even no post-season invitation in one year? John Brady is being trashed for this underachieving team. The problem, it seems to me, is simple: NO POINT GUARD. I don't condemn Brady for having poor game plans or not making the right X-O adjustments. Instead, I blame him for recruiting the wrong point guards: Tack Minor and Ben Voogd. Minor was kicked off his high school team in his senior season in Houston. You know he must have been a trouble-maker if the coach dismissed a Division IA prospect. It is no coincidence that last year, when Minor was out the entire year with academic probation and then an injury, the Tigers had their best year under Brady. Voogd, on the other hand, is a good guy but is not an SEC-caliber player. This LSU team would be very competitive with the addition of one more player: D. J. Augustin, point guard of the Texas Longhorns. After his junior year in New Orleans, he listed LSU and Texas as his final two. However, Katrina exiled him to Houston and UT. Unfortunately, the Tigers' four commitments for 2007-8 are all big men. There's still time to sign a point guard. Without one all those big men won't make a good team.