Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Tuesday Grab Bag: More basketball rules discussion

Memorial Day weekend, along with the dutiful remembrances for those lost in defense of this country, has long marked the first instance on the calendar that I allow myself a peek at Major League Baseball's standings.  Not that baseball in April and May is not important - each game counts the same, after all - just that the standings themselves are rarely informative without an adequate sample size.  With two months of play down and four to go, the colloquial opening day of summer figures to be as good a time as any to break that seal. So, lets put our eyes on the positioning of both My Sox and the home town Rockies. I have a feeling where this is going to head, but you never know...

*peruses standings*

Yep, My Sox are horseshit.  After a brief stint above the .500 mark a few weeks ago, they're back to four games under, and tied for last in the American League Central - a full eight games back of the Kansas City Royals.  Nothing too surprising here as the team can't hit, standing as the lone team in all of baseball to currently sport a negative WAR at the dish.  Right now, across this country, there are little league teams bringing a better overall approach to the box.  They bring shame to the very concept of professional hitters. *cough*

Certainly, given that disparaging outcome, the Rox have to be better... right?  Nope, in fact the Rox have managed to play even worse ball than my woeful Sox over the first two months.  At 18-25 overall, they're just as mired in obscurity at the bottom of the National League West, and just as doubtful a threat for an interesting summer.  One thing to note, however: without that infamous 11-game losing streak, things could be much different.  Let's say, instead of going 0-11 to start the month, Colorado went a still sub-par 5-6. Why, in that still-sour scenario, they'd be 23-20, and a surprise challenger to both the Giants and Dodgers. Wouldn't that be something?

As it is, it doesn't look like either My Sox or the damned Rockies will prove to be very entertaining over the final 2/3rds of the season.  I guess that just means we'll all have to savor the excitement of the NBA and NHL postseasons while they last.  After they're gone, it could prove to be a very dull summer.


Today in the bag, I'm re-hashing the new basketball rules proposals by considering Coach Boyle's opinions, before running through the playoff results.

Click below for the bag...

Boyle reacts to new rule proposals - 

Always one for honest, direct opinions, you knew it was only a matter of time before Coach Boyle made his thoughts known about the heartening set of new rules proposals for college basketball. The shortened shot clock has been the most talked about of the proposals, and it was first up on the docket of questions posed by the Camera's Brian Howell. Echoing the thoughts of his mentor, coaching legend Larry Brown, I found it a little surprising that Boyle is decidedly against the shorter shot clock, saying:
Every time you shorten the shot clock and increase the possessions in the game, it favors the team with more talent. From a macro point of view, I don't think it's good for the game of college basketball for that to happen.
I guess I get the sentiment, but I think the concern is overblown.  Teams that want to slow the ball down will still try to slow the ball down.  Teams that try to play up tempo will still try to speed it up.  The myth of parity will still reign.  This whole movement is about raising the tide of college hoops.  If the minnows of the world have to learn to swim in the deep end, then all the better (and I don't see B1G teams complaining about games played in the 50s).  We all say we want a bullshit Colonial team in the Final Four, but we really don't. As basketball fans, we should want the best teams playing the best basketball at the end of the year.
As we've proven the last few years, the less time CU spends with the ball in their hands, the better.
The real carrot here is that the constant string of empty, frustrating half-court trips from the Buffs could be just that much shorter, potentially staving off the onrush of my senility by another season (and possibly saving those few remaining hairs on Tad's otherwise clean dome).  For my mental health alone, the less of the deer-in-headlights offense the better.  That goes nation wide, as well.

Anyways, it's the other tweaks that carry the weight.  The shot clock is just a red herring.  As coach Boyle alludes to, tighter officiating in an effort to clear up wanton physicality will help much more than shaving a few seconds of the clock.  He's very perceptive when he says "The defensive rules that the NBA has put in place, if we ever get to that, that's when you're going to see scoring really take off."  I'm not so sure, however, when he plays off the extension to the larger restricted arc as a non-factor that he's being entirely truthful.  CU lives to clog the lane defensively, denying dribble-drive, and drawing the occasional dubious charge.  Man-to-man is man-to-man, but the Buffs will have to tweak a little bit to account both for the extra dead acreage under the basket, and the promise of more honest officiating overall.
The five seconds call needs to stay.
About the only area he seemed really fired up was the potential elimination of the five-seconds closely guarded rule.  I certainly get where he's coming from here.  It's probably an over-reach, and one I wouldn't be surprised to see die a quiet death before passage of a larger package of changes next week.  The defense needs some advantage, some way to force the action when a team looks to stall.  Without the five seconds call, we'll only see more hack-a-player antics down the stretch, and less actual basketball.

Overall, about what I expected from Coach Boyle, especially the concern trolling over the state of AAU basketball.  What'll be much more informative, however, will be seeing if his opinions change after next year.

Around the NBA Playoffs - 

Houston 128 - Golden State 115 - 

The gentleman's sweep is on the table after Houston staved off elimination for at least one more night, thanks primarily to a monster performance from James Harden in Monday's Game 4.  Following up on a disastrous performance in Game 3, his 45 points (17 alone in the 1st quarter) on 22 shots was the decisive factor, and made for a career playoff high from the former ASU Sun Devil.  As nice as that was, however, I fully expect it to be the last yelp on the retreat for a Houston team that looks completely out-classed.  Game 5 back in Oakland should be the last we see of this series.
Harden keeps Houston in it... for now.
For the Warriors, they're probably just glad that the loss was the only lasting negative outcome from the evening.  They were already well behind the game's pace when league MVP Steph Curry took a tumble in the 2nd quarter, landing on his head, and taking the breath out of every basketball fan around the globe. Luckily, Curry appears to be fine, only missing about 12 minutes of action on Monday, and declaring himself fit for Game 5.

Cleveland 114 - Atlanta 111 -

Just as the Warriors have completely blown through the Rockets, the Cleveland Cavaliers have given little breathing room to the wayward Atlanta Hawks.  Beneficiaries of a soft slate in the early rounds, the Hawks have since been exposed in the conference finals by a Cavs unit dealing with a slew of injuries and replacements.  While it took them to overtime to seal the deal in Game 3, Cleveland looks well on track for a berth in the NBA Finals despite the upheaval, and, while not as lethal an opponent as they appeared to be two months ago, should still be able to push Golden State a bit.
A little old school LeBron, and a series all but over.
The key has been LeBron James (who else?).  While fellow star Kyrie Irving rests up on the bench (should return tonight), it's been James who has been fueling the Cleveland surge.  His 37/18/13 triple-double on Sunday was the result of pure will; a throwback performance that reminds just how great the world's best can still be.  I said last week that I highly doubted that James would let Atlanta steal his show, and he's proven me correct by averaging 33/9 in each of the first three games of the series.  Helping his team grind out a quick sweep would benefit everyone involved, so look for a closeout win in the Cleve this evening.

Around the NHL Playoffs - 

Anaheim 5 - Chicago 4 -

While the recent action in the NBA has been undercut by skewed parity in the conference finals, hockey has benefited from a continuing run of intense games and evened series.  Take, for example, My Blackhawks and their ongoing war with the Anaheim Ducks.  Outside of a lackluster Game 1, the series has been near perfection with three games going to overtime, and all decided by a single goal.  Diving into the wee hours of the night, each contest has been a heart-racing affair, well worth you attention.
Chicago coughed up a golden theft opportunity in Anaheim
Of course, My 'Hawks are the ones with their backs to the wall after Game 5.  After a miraculous spell at the end of regulation, when captain Jonathan Toews almost single-handedly forced overtime with back-to-back stunners, an offensive lapse from Bryan Bickell lead to a quick Anaheim goal in the extra frame.  While certainly a disheartening effort from a player that has meant a lot of the team over the last few years, Chicago's problem was more the team-wide egg laid in the first period, when they looked like they wanted to be anywhere but playing hockey in Southern California.  Home ice beckons tomorrow night, however, and I fully expect a Game 7.

Tampa Bay 2 - New York 0 -

The action has been just as taught in the other NHL series, where Tampa and New York continue to level haymakers at each other.  The latest, a blanking of the Rangers by the Lightning on road ice, sets the stage for a wild Game 6 this evening in Florida.  At least one team has scored four or more goals at the St Pete Times Forum in each of the last four playoff games played there, so I expect fireworks from the off.
The Rangers are similarly on the brink.
In a series that has mostly been about the offense, it was, finally, a defense that had their say.  The Lightning were stifling on Sunday, holding the Rangers to only 26 shots on net in the Garden.  It started with their penalty kill, as Tampa only allowed four shots in as many power plays in the opening half hour. Dominating stuff.  Still, I kind of want this series to return to the batshit insane goal-fest of the first few games. Leave the nitty gritty action for the West, while still equaling the march to a seventh game!

Happy Tuesday!

No comments: