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Opinion

October 20, 2013

Thanks to NCAA for getting serious about scoring

DUNCAN — Nobody comes out looking good in the government shutdown, and it’s left many of us with a headache. So, I’m relieving some of the throbbing by making a poultice from  the sticky notes that act as my memory:

As a basketball lover, here are some props to the NCAA Rules Committee and the directors of officiating in the NCAA conferences. After years of making fans watch as college hoops sunk to a streetball level and scoring dropped annually, the NCAA is finally returning finesse and shooting skill to the game.

Scoring in Div. I has slipped for many years, bottoming out in the 2012-13 season, when the typical scoring average for a major college team dipped to 67.4 percent, the lowest since 1982. Three-point shooting percentages withered to 34 percent, the lowest percentage since the trey was initiated in 1986. And even more important, ratings for the NCAA Men’s Tournament, which used to be a “crown jewel,” are in a six- or seven-year free fall.

Meanwhile, hand-checking in the backcourt has thrived, along with defenders using armbars, forearm shivers, pushing and shoving and other ... uh ... techniques coaches have taught defenders for the past couple decades. Physically-oriented defensive concepts like “This is my space and I’ll protect it any way possible,” allow coaches to control a game, but they also stifle scoring.

All Div. I coaches have to protect big-dollar salaries by winning. If stressing muscle-up defense and turning the game into a low-scoring mixed martial arts bout produces victory, most coaches will go that route. Heck, a lot of basketball coaches can live with a 1-0 score, as long as their team has the 1!

By passing new rules that favor offense and with officials instructed to call infractions, the NCAA is making coaches change.

Rest assured, coaches will whine, whine, whine about the new rules, and for a while fans will have to adjust to rules that open the game to more offense. Ultimately, though, fans will dig it; after all, more scoring is more fun for fans and for players.

Instead of offenses built solely on 3-point shots and dunks, perimeter players will again learn to shoot mid-range jumpers and drive to the hole. Interior players will develop moves and find ways to score other than just jamming and shooting lay-ups.

Finesse, skills and creativity are returning to college thumps — and somewhere, Billy Tubbs is smiling.

• After watching an old friend go through a messy job action, here’s something to remember: “Forced retirement” is just another way of saying, “You’re fired.”

• A Pew Poll out last week showed 13 percent of Democrats view the Tea Party favorably, which won’t bother the Tea Partyists at all. But the poll also reveals only 51 percent of Republicans view the Tea Party favorably and the number sinks to 30 percent among Independents, who are the swing voters in most national elections.

• Prediction: Within the next decade, the Tea Party and far right Republicans will form a third party that will turn our elections into a whole new ballgame.

• “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposite ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote it.

• Today’s sport media is far too sanctimonious, so forget all the off-field intrigue the kid has created on his own and the faux-drama the press creates to fill talk shows and 24-hour sports news cycles. If Johnny Manziel is the best player in the country — which I believe he is — then he should become the first Heisman Trophy repeater since Archie Griffin.

• I’m far from being a trained art critic, but I know what I like. To me, troubled genius Vincent Van Gogh is the greatest painter to pick up a brush.

n What’s the deal with how quickly fingernails grow as you age?

• Back to college hoops for a sec. Nice to see former Houston skipper Guy Lewis and UNLV’s Jerry Tarkanian enter the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame back in September. Now, those are two coaches who put teams on the floor that knew how to score.

• If you love guitar playing, check out the work of the late Roy Buchanan, who was a master of several styles. Never a “pop” artist, Buchanan was one of those musicians who are revered by their peers.

• George Carlin once asked: “Before they invented drawing boards, what did they go back to?”

jeff.kaley@duncanbanner.com

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