“Maddening, the game is” as Yoda might say – more calmly than I, I might add. I am not all that much of a basketball fan anymore, in large part because the game has become way too aggravating for me to watch.
I saw part of the Wichita State-Kentucky game and had to just walk away in frustration; the calls and non-calls by the officials left me wondering what I was watching, exactly. Was I watching a game, or a team scrimmage with stoppages for coaching instruction? Between whistles and time outs, there was no flow to the game, no smoothness. What they called as ‘fouls’ befuddled me; what they didn’t call was just aggravating. My biggest gripe with contemporary basketball is traveling.
Apparently, there isn’t any such thing anymore.
I don’t walk my dogs as far as modern-day players’ ramble with the ball but without it touching the touching hardwood. Forwards drive to the basket lugging the rock like a drunken fullback, weaving through alleged defenses and I almost expect the play to end in an announcer’s call of “First down!”
I try, but the college game is almost as unwatchable as the pro version.
Seriously, when a guy goes charging into the lane I half-expect him to hand off the ball to a teammate like a baton so that guy can run the next leg of the relay.
I saw at least two replays in the brief segment of the Wichita State-Kentucky game where I counted five steps that a guy took with the ball and in neither case was traveling called. Five. Full. Steps. Two more steps of that length, and the guys would have been in line to buy a Coke on the concourse level.
Then there was the Michigan-Tennessee game I saw the ending of the other night. There was a Tennessee player who had the ball and hopped – HOPPED, two feet together, bunny- hop style – through the lane towards the hoop.
Guys run, jump, throw erstwhile passes, drive to the hoop from midcourt and the ball rarely touches the hardwood. I’ve seen more actual dribbling from bar drunks at closing time.
Then there are the inexplicable fouls: ‘reaching in’ and ‘over the top’ – we used to call that aggressive defense. Oh, and the bumping! I saw a Tennessee player guarding a Michigan player and they whistled him for a defensive foul. The announcers noted that he ‘leaned in with his hip.’
Ummm…yeah? We used to call that ‘defense.’ No harm, no foul.
They call charging fouls when all the offensive guy really needs is to have his visa stamped to verify all the traveling he has done.
Add that to the excessive timeouts and play stoppage, the three-point shot, zone defenses, goal tending, the ‘possession arrow’ (oh
man, how I hate the ‘possession arrow’) and ticky-tack fouls and basketball just doesn’t do it for me anymore. Timeouts happening after fifteen seconds of elapsed, actual playing time and it takes half an hour to play the last two-minutes of a close basketball game.
Timeouts = Strategy Sessions? Lack of acumen of the game, I think. If you can’t think two-or-three-plays ahead…
I realize that this is heresy for many this time of year, but I really don’t care squat about March Madness, as for me all it does is get in the way of sports page coverage of Opening Day
Not that America’s pastime doesn’t have its issues – I could do without the DH, the ‘in-the-vicinity-of-second-base’ call and interleague play to name three. But baseball is like love; you put up with the quirks of the other person, live with the ups and downs of daily life, and the love continues to grow. Baseball is unbridled passion, basketball is a relationship ‘Hey, how ya doin?’ followed by a blank stare and silence.
But I digress.
Per my basketball irritations, I’m not a total slave to tradition – I am not advocating peach baskets, and I could live without the three-point shot. Zone defense saps the game of its flow and I don’t find the dunk nearly as interesting or entertaining as most. The call of ‘goaltending’ mystifies me as does the fact the bulk of the payers at every level only make sixty-percent of their free throws and the post time-out mid-court throw-in instead of the baseline….
Bust all the brackets you want. Be a part of the madness. I hope you win your office pool. The greatest redeeming quality of college basketball? Pro ball is worse.
Me? I’m hell bent for the sound of horsehide hitting leather, and the first “Steee-rike!’ call of the new year. Call me mad, if you will, but I’ll be glad when the Final Four finally exit the stage.