Northern Wyoming Daily News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Alex Kuhn
Sports Editor 

Hear me out...Hey NCAA I have a few ideas for you


April 8, 2017

Waking up Monday morning my first two thoughts were, “Wow, that is an unfortunate amount of snow,” and “I wonder if the snow is going to push [Monday’s] Worland/Lander games back?”

The latter proved to be true and while I was rearranging story list for Monday, I realized there was a silver lining to the soccer games being cancelled. My Monday night was now free and I could watch the NCAA men’s basketball championship between North Carolina and Gonzaga.

Little did I know what I thought was be a blessing in disguise would turn out to be more of a pox on all who watched.

The Final Four games were subpar but that title game was atrocious.

I’d say the first half of the game was fine, the play was alright and the officiating was decent but it started to get a little shaky toward the end.

The second half is when the wheels fell off for both the players and officials. For those of you who didn’t watch, the officials ran wild with fouls calling 27 of them in the second half, even calling seven fouls in a 92-second span. It brought unevenness to the game and was just perplexing how they refused to allow the two teams with talented frontcourts battle it out on the blocks.

Then there were the ‘Zag and UNC players, playing well below their potentials. UNC looked as if Monday was the first time they’d ever attempted a 3-pointer. Almost like they were a 1960s basketball team stepping out of a time machine and were hurriedly told about the 3-point line. While Zag 7-1 standout big Przemek Karnowski looked like he could blow chunks at every turn because the moment was a little too big for him. Shoot, he was so bad Monday he might have played his way right out of the NBA-Gatorade League.

So dividing blame for Monday’s eye-sore of a title game goes like so, a quarter goes to the players, a quarter to the officials and the rest to the NCAA suits.

That’s right I’m blaming most of the Monday’s game directly on the NCAA president Mark Emmert and his cronies.

First, I’ll give Emmert credit for improving the officiating over the past few seasons. Not long along it felt like the charge and overly physical defenses were going to ruin college basketball (think Wisconsin Basketball) but the NCAA made the necessary adjustments and freed up the game. Now it seems like the pendulum has swung too far the other way and there are too many soft fouls called. There just needs to be a balance in fouls called and a case-by-case when it comes to assessing the flagrant fouls. Monday’s game and Friday’s UCONN/Mississippi State women’s game, both had flagrants called that were incidental contact.

The main reason I’m blaming the NCAA for Monday’s terrible game is because of the venue. How many more title games need to be tarnished by playing in front of a full football stadium? The Final Four has been played in football stadiums since I’ve been alive, but before 2009 they curtained off half of the stadium. So you’d have roughly 45,000 to 55,000 watching the Final Four.

There were still nosebleeds seats but fans were able to follow the action on the billboard screen.

In 2009 the NCAA decided to “open the Final Four to more fans” (Translation: We’re all about that money!) and tore the curtain down. Now there’s around 75,000-plus attempting to watch these basketball games.

I say attempting to watch because speaking to friends or reading accounts of those who have gone to these Final Fours, the average response is the experience was underwhelming. If you want a good seat you’ll have to shell out a small fortune. If you’re not able to do that you’re going to need an oxygen canister to find the affordable seats.

There have also been complaints that people could not see the court because of banners or TV crews blocking the view. And the energy in the stadium, which is what college basketball is all about, is flat, which you can sense at times while watching the broadcast.

When you go from playing most the season in front of 5,000 to 18,000 fans that are on top of the court to playing in front of a spacious 75,000, some of which can’t even see what’s going on, it’s no wonder the players seem off while also trying to adjust to the deep backdrops.

Basketball is an intimate sport. It shouldn’t be played in front of that large of a crowd. The players feed off the crowd which adds to the excitement of the game; it’s one of the better sounds in sports when a crowd loses their minds after a player knocks down a big shot or pulls down a big rebound.

If Emmert and his buddies are that hard up for cash I have an idea that they can take free of charge.

Bring the curtain back and make the title game a best-of-three series. In doing so you create a better atmosphere for your product, add a new wrinkle for the coaches and most importantly for the non-profit that is the NCAA, bring in more revenue.

Then when that becomes a success you can make the Final Four games a best-of-three adding even more cash to the coffers.

Problem solved everyone wins, the fans, the NCAA suits, the coaches, the schools, the TV networks and the pla….well maybe not them. But if Emmert needs help figuring out how to pay the players, I’ve got some ideas. Just for the love of god stop playing the most important game of the season in front of a full football stadium.


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