Tom Izzo

Tom Izzo on the 35-second clock: “I would like to see a change”


College basketball has been trending the wrong way when it comes to scoring, with this year providing some of the ugliest score lines that you’ll ever see.

For every exciting finish we saw this season, there were five games where the winner couldn’t break 60. One of the biggest questions heading into the offseason is how we can go about changing that.

How do we make college basketball watchable again?

Tom Izzo thinks he has an answer. He went on a radio show and discussed what he thought were a couple ways that the nationwide scoring drought could be addressed. Namely, reducing the shot clock.

“One of the guys I have great respect for — Johnny Dawkins, who is at Stanford — and we were in our meetings the other day, and he said, ‘We have the slowest game in the world,'” Izzo said. “As you say, the international is less. The pro is less. The women’s is less. And here we are with 35 [seconds].”

The NBA and FIBA use a 24 second shot clock, and women’s college basketball uses a 30 second clock despite the fact that they don’t have a 10 second back court violation.

“It was talked about at our meetings in Atlanta,” Izzo said. He was on the NABC’s Board of Director’s this season. “You know the bureaucracy of committees and what it’s got to do, but I think there is getting to be a growing run at maybe doing that, and I think more coaches are in favor of it.”

This is a topic that has bounced around basketball circles for a while. Will reducing the shot clock in college hoops really have the desired affect, increasing tempo, or will it further erode the quality of play at this level. The argument made against reducing the clock is that NBA possessions quite often devolve into isolations and ball-screen actions, and with so much college talent fleeing for the NBA before their eligibility is exhausted, there isn’t the kind of talent left to be effective in mainly iso’s and pick-and-rolls.

Personally, I side with Jay Bilas and Rick Pitino — and, for that matter, Tom Izzo, who commented on it prior to talking shot clocks — when it comes to how to better the game: call more fouls. Make the game less physical. Pitino touched on this topic at the Final Four, insinuating that the key to making college basketball more aesthetically pleasing is to improve the freedom of movement of the players. Make it more like the NBA:

I went to see Earl Clark play against Miami. Earl was playing LeBron. Earl just basically took his hand and just rested it on him and they went, ‘foul’. What happened in the NBA now is they stopped all the arm bars, all the standing up of screens, all the coming across and chpping the guy. They stopped all that. Now there’s freedom of movement in the NBA and you see great offense.

When you coach in the Big East, you should wear body guard. Peyton wears body guard, shoulder bads, because you can’t cut, can’t move. The referees are caught in a quandary. They’re saying, ‘we’re going to ruin the game, we’re on TV.’

Pitino’s national title game counterpart agrees.

“I like the way the NBA is played,” Beilein told WWLS 98.1-FM on Monday. “If you put your hand on a guy, it’s a foul. We actually teach it, and it hurts us sometimes when we’re not as physical as other teams.”

Beilein ran this year’s most efficient offense. Pitino just finished beating him in what was the most thrilling national title in at least five years.

Those two seem to have figured out a way to make college hoops watchable.

Maybe we should listen to them.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.