Let them play
Posted by Dean Holden at March 20th, 2013
by Bob Walsh, 13 March 2013
I had a blast doing the Rhode Island State Championship game between Classical and North Kingstown on the radio on Sunday. It was a great game played at a high level of intensity between the two best teams in the state. Classical came back in the second half to pull out the win.
I have seen a lot written about why scoring is steadily declining in college basketball today. There are a lot of different thoughts on it, and many of them have merit – defenses are allowed to play too physical, coaches emphasize athleticism over skill in recruiting, a lack of skill development in our country compared to foreign countries, and the AAU effect – where kids play way too many games in the spring and summer and don’t really get much practice time. There are other theories that make sense as well.
One area that no one seems to look at is the coaching. I think one thing affecting the level of scoring in college basketball is that coaches are too controlling. The game has exploded on the college level over the last 20 years. The media exposure, the money involved, and the influence of college basketball have gone through the roof. I can’t offer scientific data on this, but over that time it seems like coaches have gotten more and more controlling. And it is probably just human nature. More people are watching, there is more money involved, there is more pressure to win, there is more criticism. Coaches are losing their jobs quicker than ever. All of those things added up would make anyone want to take more control. Were there controlling coaches 30 years ago? Of course there were. I can’t argue a specific number. But it seems like there are more and more coaches today trying to coach every single pass.
My point here is not to criticize college coaches or a certain coaching philosophy. There are many different ways to be successful and you absolutely have to coach what you know, and coach to your personality. But when people talk about the scoring decline in college basketball, one thing you never hear is about the coaching. The more coaches are in control, the less freedom and confidence the kids are playing with. When the kids are constantly looking over their shoulder for instruction, there’s no way they’ll be comfortable.The coaching in college basketball might have as big of an effect on the scoreboard as anything else you hear about.