During the NIT this March, the Men’s Basketball Committee will experiment with resetting team fouls to zero at the end of 10-minute segments of each half. So they are cutting halves in half, but not calling it quarters. What a waste of time.
Men’s college basketball is the only level of basketball in the WORLD to play two 20-minute halves. What’s the hold up? The NCAA MBC is holding on for no other reason than being resistant to change.
I call both men’s and women’s games and the difference in the flow of the game is obvious. Halves invite painfully long scoring droughts and too many foul shots. When that happens, the game gets boring. Fans can’t stand it, and the casual viewer is turned off. It makes for bad TV.
Quarters let teams regroup and strategize, breaking the game down into more manageable, teachable segments. Today’s players thrive in that environment.
Women’s basketball changed to quarters two years ago and the results speak for themselves:
Scoring is up. Free Throws are down. Ratings are up 25%. The South Carolina/ UConn women’s matchup on Big Monday drew the highest rating for any college basketball game this season on ESPN2. Games are speeding along at 1:48. The ladies are in the zone.
Alan Leforce, my coach at Coastal Carolina who also coached men’s college ball for 40 years said it’s time to change. “The pros do it. They do it in the Olympics. Women’s basketball does it. Maybe there are a lot of older guys that don’t want to change, but I want to see it, and there’s no older guy than me.”
Most women’s coaches agree. UConn’s Geno Auriemma, Depaul’s Doug Bruno, and South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley have all voiced their support in favor of the four-quarter system. Kim Mulkey was opposed to it, but her Baylor Lady Bears set an NCAA DI record dropping 140 points on Winthrop. That doesn’t happen without quarters.
Despite the data and endorsements, men’s coaches aren’t exactly embracing the thought.
Notre Dame Head coach Mike Brey told me halves make the college game unique. Virginia Tech’s Buzz Williams said he needs evidence but supports whatever system gets his team to the free throw line the most. Ben Howland of Mississippi State doesn’t see the need to change or get rid of the 1 and 1 foul shot. Oakland’s Greg Kampe is a self-described traditionalist whose opinion echoed Howland’s, but said he would give it a second thought after we talked and I showed him the data.
One NCAA committee member told me playing four quarters would be too jarring. He also said there was no goal other than to collect data. Why not start by looking at data that already exists?
Every two years, the NCAA can make rules changes for the upcoming season. Last year they focused on freedom of movement, something the Women’s Basketball Rules Committee took a close look at years ago. They had the foresight it would have a positive overall effect on the game, and it did. The numbers back it up. This summer, the focus should shift to quarters. Fans are ready. It’s time to buy in and put the discussion on the agenda.