Decline of NCAA men’s hoops result of poor fundamentals

first_imgVERO BEACH, FLORIDA – “Speaking as a fan, I think (men’s college basketball) is a joke.”—Geno Auriemma, UConn women’s basketball coach KEYWORDS “Respect/Admire Geno, but that was a real cheap shot; gimme a break.”—Tweet from Dick Vitale, TV college basketball analystSorry Dickie V, but Geno is spot on in the minds of many.Not only that, baybee, you’re also part of the reason U.S. college hoops has come under heavy criticism lately, Mr. Vitale (more on this later).Want proof Auriemma speaks for the multitudes?Other than a few scattered, generic “he should stick to women’s basketball” comments, your castigation of Geno represents the only negative outcry over Auriemma’s comments, made at a news conference before his Huskies captured their 10th national title.(And for the record, Auriemma added that women’s college basketball is also “behind the times” — but not as far back as the men’s game.)A surprisingly large number of commenters actually agreed with Geno when he opined that:“The bottom line is NOBODY can score; and they’ll tell you it’s because of great defense, great scouting.“Nonsense!”Hear, hear, Geno. MAS is with you 100 percent on this.In fact, he’ll go you one better and —with the backing of Kobe Bryant — tell you poor shooting by today’s collegians is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to their fundamental faults.Bryant, who spent time in Italy as a youngster, noted that for a while now kids in Europe and other parts of the world — and their coaches — have been learning basketball ABC’s at clinics from respected old school American coaches and then sticking to the principles learned.And the quality of youth play worldwide has improved markedly.Such has not been the case in the U.S., though, Kobe offered.American kids, Bryant lamented, have drifted away from playing the game, as famed coach Larry Brown likes to say, “The Right Way.”MAS agrees and feels this too has a lot to do with the substantial dip in quality of U.S. collegiate ball.Some youngsters do still learn the proper way of doing things as high schoolers.But even before graduation those basics are often ignored and today’s kids stop applying them.Bryant blames summer AAU ball for undoing the good high school coaches often do.Kids start playing for traveling All-Star teams put together by unqualified, glory-seeking coaching wannabes.Teaching stops and fundamental regression sets in.Also, MAS would add, the summer camps high schoolers attend these days have become mere showcase events, with players not learning and improving, but rather merely trying to impress college coaches who attend in droves.Whenever top prepsters congregate thusly, thunderous dunks, so-called “ankle-breaking” dribbling moves and similar style-over-substance maneuvers — rather than sound fundamentals — are the order of the day.Increasingly, NBA stars like LeBron James and Kevin Durant, perhaps realizing this combo AAU/sneaker camp set-up hurt their own development, have only recently started “skill camps” emphasizing hoop essentials.Nice try, guys, but it’s too little, too late.The horse is out of the barn, etc., etc.Add to this, many modern NCAA coaches — who must win to keep their multimillion dollar jobs — merely slap together the best All-Star squads they can through recruiting, devise a game plan and hope the talent will make it work.To hell with developing players’ skills.Oh, there’s an occasional Bo Ryan of Wisconsin who actually schools players, emphasizing fundamentals, but for most college coaches it’s all about winning NOW.So, while today’s young college basketballers are more physically gifted — as they are in most sports — they rarely reach full potential.This is where Dickie V — and the TV networks that employ his ilk — come in for a portion of the blame for this problem.Vitale, the Grand Poobah of Hackneyed Hyperbole, has become a filthy rich exuberantly extolling the virtues of “Diaper Dandies” — newcomers on the collegiate scene.These underdeveloped men-children then usually stay only a year or two before turning pro.Only occasionally, though, do they succeed immediately in the NBA.So, how great could they be?A classic example is New Orleans center Anthony Davis, who came out of Kentucky three years ago with two selling points: a condor’s wingspan and a dyn-o-mite uni-brow.He could play great D but as a shooter, he couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat.After three years of experience, however, he has finally developed a very nice offensive tool box and is poised for superstardom.But that should have happened in college.Overall, today’s NCAA ball rarely produces finished products.Even Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban says: “(College ball) is uglier than ugly.”Americans can thank, in large part, Dickie V’s over-the-top antics and ESPN and its monkey see-monkey-do competition for this situation.Their glorification of the wrong aspects of the game —tailored to appeal to those huge numbers of TV-viewing dopes who mindlessly slurp up the hoop pablum they dispense — has greatly contributed to the decline in fluid, efficient play in U.S. college hoops.Auriemma went on to say: “We’re talking about the entertainment dollar here.“People have to decide: ‘Do I want to pay 25 bucks to go see a college scrum where everybody misses 6 out of 10 shots? Or do I want to go to a movie?’ “The shooting is so bad, scoring is down to its lowest level since the 1950s.How to improve the abysmal shooting and to improve other fundamentals lacking in the college game?Many are calling for a 30-second — or lower — shot clock. And a larger restricted area (the no-charge arc under the basket).Some radicals even want the rim raised to 12 feet to take away dunking which only requires the ability to jump high.MAS feels anything is worth a try.Geno deserves credit for perhaps getting the beautification ball rolling.ESPN can keep it going by, for starters, ordering its smarmy news anchors to stop becoming semi-orgasmic over splashy dunks while ridiculing the guy who was “posterized” (dunked over).And it could say sayonara to its main NCAA hoops shill Vitale who, while charming at first, over the years has become a silly caricature of himself.These days, when the almost 76-year-old Dickie V spits out Diaper Dandy, it’s more self-descriptive.Contact Man About Sports at: [email protected] Kobe Bryant, Larry Brown, Geno Auriemma, UConn, Dick Vitale RELATED PHOTOScenter_img GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES Hype machine: ESPN analyst Dick Vitale’s over-the-top antics have been a staple of men’s college basketball TV coverage for decades. | REUTERS/USA TODAY SPORTS IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5last_img

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