2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

College basketball: Finally, the rules are right

Published: November 12, 2013, 11:17 pm, by Paul Klee

This topic will be a longer, more comprehensive column at some point during this college basketball season.

But on a night when four of the top five teams are in the same city, in one of my favorite buildings, it seems like a super time to point out one of the best developments in sports:

College basketball no longer is rugby. Bless you, NCAA rules committee, for giving us our game back, and taking it away from the muggers and assaults and Midwest coaches who turned a game of skill into a game of clutching and grabbing.

College basketball is basketball again, a game of skill and shot-making and strategery, instead of hacking and smacking and evening the playing field.

Two years ago, I saw a national game with this final score: 53-41.

Tonight, I watched a November game with this final score: 94-83.

This is progress. This is (closer to) how basketball was designed to be played. There are those who will complain about the “foul-fests” and “free-throw shooting contests” under the new rules.

That’s cool. But here’s what I know.

Tonight made me want to watch college basketball again. The 2013 NCAA tournament, from an aesthetics standpoint, was watching a go-kart wreck. There was more assault than awesome. Last season offered a 30-year low in scoring. The Big Ten is my favorite, but it was mostly unwatchable. Close games don’t equal good basketball.

The old message: If you can’t beat ‘em, beat ‘em up.

The new message: This is basketball, not ice hockey.

This is progress.

Twitter: @Klee_Gazette