I write this column today, fully knowing that the rule changes for NCAA basketball for 2011-12 season are fully in place, but it is always interesting and fun to look back what could have happened.
This examination is even more important to look at since the it appears the lockout/strike of NBA players will last much longer than anticipated and like the last labor event in the NBA, college basketball will pick up many new fans.
While college basketball still is very popular, I do agree with some critics that the game has become stagnant. The Butler-Connecticut championship game was almost unwatchable this past season, but one game should not make people jump and change things, it is the overall pattern of college basketball in the past three years, that should bring about change.
Some basics could easily make the college game better, more fun to watch and bring in new fans, NBA or no NBA.
1. Reduce the shot clock down from 35 seconds to 29 seconds. Jazz the change up a little bit, don't go to the standard oh we will reduce it down by five seconds, 29 seconds has ring to it and is plenty of time for any team to get a quality shot off. The game needs to speed up and this is a simple fix.
2. Plain and simple, four full time outs per half(no more each team gets x-amount of time outs per half), plus one 30 second time out of which either team could use, no exceptions. These time outs would come the first dead ball under the 16:00,12:00,8:00,4:00 minute marks. It would more than satisfy the need for a coach to develop strategy and it meets the needs of the media. College basketball has too many time outs at present, time outs in many cases ruin the flow of a good game and it for sure would make the last two minutes of the game more exciting. As much respect as I have for coaches, they have over-coached the time out rules, it is literally "time" for a drastic change. For an injured player, that is an officials' time out, does not count in the basic time out rules and the player must leave the game and can only come back in on the first dead ball.
3. Bring back pre-game dunking. Dunking is and always will be a great part of basketball. Make the pre-game rules the same as during the game, if a player hangs on the rim, technical foul. Schools would sell more merchandise, more concessions, just by people getting there early to see the warmups, plus more kids, the future fans of the game, would love to come to games, just to watch the pre-game. We can't lose a generation of young fans, as baseball seems to have done.
If you are the decision makers, you just can't sit back and think things will always be the same. Sports that succeed in the long run adapt to change and more importantly they see the need for change when it becomes obvious. The above changes might not seem that important to some, but to keep the college game as great as it needs to be, these changes are no-brainers.