Do you like it rough? I thought the NCAA Basketball Tournament was, to say the least, loosely officiated. This is said at the risk of being accused of trying to change basketball to a “sissy” game. I believe that this year the fans of the NCAA and NBA are seeing the roughest play in the history of the great game of basketball.
Houston Rockets guard Jeremy Lin, left, grimaces as he is fouled by Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka, right, in the first quarter of Game 1 of their first-round NBA basketball playoff series in Oklahoma City, Sunday, April 21, 2013.
Already this year's NBA playoffs has seen its fair share of rough play. Josh Smith is plunking Pierce, Carl Landry is losing teeth and D-West can't stop slapping Dirk around. It's like the 80's in long shorts out there. But which has been the hardest playoff foul to date? Cast your vote below. The other four of the top five candidates:
Jason Kidd flips Jannero Pargo, Game 4. Instead of trying to make the block, a lazy Jason Kidd grabs Pargo by the back of the neck and swings him to the court. Incredibly, Pargo wasn't injured on the fall, but Kidd was ejected thanks to a flagrant-2 foul.
DeShawn Stevenson decapitates LeBron, Game 3. OK, so that's a stretch. DeShawn tries to decapitate LeBron. Still, DS came across the lane and swiped his right arm across the top of James' skull. The hit was enough to knock off the All-Star's headband and send him dropping to the court.
Brendan Haywood shoves LeBron James, Game 2. Following a Game 1 semi-fracas, Haywood pushes LeBron with both hands while the Cavs star is in the air. Haywood was assessed a flagrant foul and ejected from the game.
Raja Bell semi-clotheslines Manu Ginobili, Game 2. Raja drops Manu to the floor knowing the Suns are 15 seconds away from losing Game 2. Did Manu flop a little? It's tough to tell anymore. Was that little crying boy ever eaten by the wolves?
This type of play is not what Dr. Naismith had in mind when he hung the peach baskets on the balcony at Springfield College.
Dr. James Naismith shows his invention to the public in 1893.
Naismith designed the game in 1891 as a non-contact sport,* where agility, speed, dexterity and lightening reflexes would prevail. Having a functioning brain aided greatly to a player’s success on the hardwood.
*Vince Lombardi’s (former Green Bay Packer Coach) definitions:
· Kissing is a contact sport.
· Football is a collision sport.
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Or the behavior of anyone in a position of leadership: parent, teacher, sports official, sports reporter? How does one learn "boundaries"? Images of head coach Mike Rice conducting basketball practice at Rutgers University left no doubt his behavior was detestable.
That practice session took place several months ago and was the cause of closed-door discussions and mild discipline by the university. But recently the video was released and went viral on the internet; if you're a sports fan you've probably seen it. It features Rice violently cursing at his players, throwing basketballs at their heads and feet and being viciously demeaning. All in the name of-get this-- "motivating" them to do better. Be aware that in today's world everything can go viral!
Rice has since been fired by Rutgers University and the athletic director, who had suspended and fined Rice when the behavior was first discovered, has now resigned. Others are calling for the university president to step down. Do such firings help change behavior? Granted, there is no excuse for this type of behavior in coaching, teaching, or parenting. But if you think physical abuse of others is a new motivational tool, you got another think coming. Coaches have for years used physical means to motivate their players, though perhaps not to the extent Rice did. Was it the right thing to do? Only if you believe humiliation should be used as a measurement of success.
Motivation comes from within. Worthy coaches, teachers, or parents inspire others through their words and actions. Walk your talk! As we wrote in "It's the Will, Not the Skill": "Excellence is good, exemplary is better"! If your goal is to teach for better performance, then we believe coaching from the "inside-out" is the way to do it. It's one thing to avoid abhorrent examples such as Rice's; but better to observe positive models and say "that's the way I want to do it".
There’s little argument about the fate of Rutgers’ former basketball coach Mike Rice: he had to go. A large majority of those who took part in a recent Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press poll viewed his firing as an appropriate outcome to his behavior…But not all.
Twelve percent said Rice should not have been fired after a video surfaced showing Rice physically abusing players and calling them gay slurs and other names and 6 percent were unsure, leaving 82 percent of respondents agreeing with the decision to terminate Rice.
And six percent of those polled found that Rice’s behavior was acceptable, while 93 percent said it was not.
Most also were not surprised that it occurred.
“While the public disapproved, they didn’t think it was all that uncommon in college-level sports,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.
Fifty-two percent of those polled believe it is either very common or fairly common for this type of behavior to take place in college sports with 46 percent saying it is either not too or not at all common.
The poll shows that the New Jersey public by and large agreed with the administrative moves taken after both the incident and the delay in firing Rice.
A majority – 56 percent – said Athletic Director Tim Pernetti, who at first defended his decision not to initially fire Rice, should have resigned, while 35 percent said it was unnecessary. Fifty-one percent of those polled said Rutgers President Robert Barchi should not have to give up his post while 36 percent believe he should step down because of the delay in dealing with Rice.
The poll was conducted by phone, with 806 New Jersey adults taking part from April 11 to 14.
The controversy did not put much of a dent in Rutgers’ reputation on the whole as a university.
Not many participants said it changed the way they perceive Rutgers. Only 6 percent of those said they would “actively discourage” a high school senior from attending Rutgers because of the incident.
The poll also cast light on how Garden State residents feel about sports at Rutgers. Forty-four percent of those polled say Rutgers puts the appropriate amount of emphasis on sports compared to 31 percent who maintain that it places too much emphasis on its athletic programs.
Dotson’s Note: What do you think? Please call or send your thoughts regarding this matter to the Benchwarmers….Thanks
Dotson’s note: With all the attention on the NCAA Basketball’s Men’s National Championship which was won by Louisville Monday night in New Orleans, your attention is invited to the behind the scenes story of another National Championship (NAIA). This championship was won by Westmont College’s women’s team. Thanks to my good friend Jim Tunney (NFL Referee Retired) who sent me this story.
When the final buzzer sounded on Tuesday night, Westmont players and coaches rushed into each other’s arms, celebrating a 71-65 win over Lee of Tennessee (34-3) and their first NAIA Women’s Basketball National Championship. Tears and smiles abounded as the Warriors’ quest to win five games in six days in the 32-team national tournament came to a successful conclusion.
WESTMONT BASKETBALL COACH MOORE WITH DAUGHTER ALEXIS
“I am really happy for my players and the journey we have been through as a group,” said Westmont head coach Kristen Moore. “The perseverance we have shown through trials on and off the court seasoned us for all of the close games we have had throughout the entire tournament.”
Jim Tunney wrote-Westmont College, a small (1300+ students) Christian, liberal college located in Montecito, California won the 2012-13 NAIA Women's basketball championship. Not much of a big deal, most would say, happens to one of those small schools every year. Yeah, but ya gotta hear the "rest-of-the-story". A big thanks to my friend and colleague LA Times esteemed sportswriter, Bill Plaschke, who recently wrote about this for the Times. It bears repeating.
COACH KRISTEN DURING A TIME-OUT
Westmont's women's basketball head coach Kristen McKnight met Alex Moore, a Westmont kinesiology professor in 2003. Alex thought they were "made of each other", but Kristen didn't have time for romance-basketball was her passion. Alex was relentless. They married in 2008. On May 9, 2012 Alex underwent colon surgery for Crohn's disease during which he tragically died due to a pulmonary embolism. Kristen was eight months pregnant with their first child. Seven weeks later the baby was born. Kristen named her Alexis. Time for a sabbatical; I mean, come on, a grieving widow and a new born, not Kristen-she barely took a day off.
Standing in front of her team in August, 2013 preparing for the season, she said, "I'm here and this is going to be a hard road, but I'm here". Kristen continued, "I'm going to be real; you're gonna see me cry a lot, but I have to do this." She didn't have to do it at all! Do courage, dedication and commitment come to mind?
Winning 24 of 27 games for the Warriors to be the Golden State Athletic Conference champions along with NAIA champs would normally be the story; but it was actually the easy part. Members of the athletic department, the community, and the dozen or so players all pitched-in to take care of Alexis. Changing Alexis' diapers on an aluminum bleacher in the women's bathroom, asking the men's team players to turn their heads (since both teams travel together on the bus) while Kristen breast feed Alexis, was just some of the many trials she endured.
Even Alex, then deceased, contributed. Two days after his death while rummaging through Alex's office preparing for his memorial service, Kristen found these Bible verses on two Post-it notes: "Encourage the oppressed, defend the cause of fatherless, plead the case of the widow" and "Be strong and courageous and do the work, do not be afraid or discouraged for the Lord God, my God, is with you". These were Alex's final words to Kristen.
Will you use the strength of your courage to help you carry on?
The month of March is now history, but the "madness" still continues in college (NCAA) basketball as we approach the “final four” this Saturday and Monday. We'll steel ourselves for a last round of the constant "Dee-Fence" cheer, or the letter D with the picket fence held up by fanatic fans. Does that continuous shouting really help their team play better defense? Do the players on the court become more technically aware because the fans are reminding them to do so?
Maybe that endless yelling and screaming is a way for the fans to let off steam and create excitement for their players. You never hear the word "offense" or "dribble-pass-shoot" chanted; those skills are essential to scoring. Defense has become the Holy Grail in college basketball. How did the plan of preventing an opponent from scoring vanish? With a few exceptions, there's not much evidence of defense throughout the NCAA.
The style of play is far different in today's game than it was several years ago. Speed, agility, finesse and outmaneuvering the opponent has been replaced by a physical contact game which is not what Mr. Naismith had in mind when he hung the peach baskets on the balcony in Springfield. The "dunk" is not my favorite style of play. If you are six feet, it takes only a minimal amount of jumping ability with your hands up to dunk a basketball. The lay-up, if any of you remember the term, is gone. Even a player in the clear on a fast break is likely to try to slam the ball through the hoop, which originated the term "slam-dunk"--so much for the skill of throwing the ball through the hoop. The accent now is on individual feats of athleticism.
When I was on the rules committee, I campaigned tirelessly to have the dunk value reduced to one point. That would have put an end to this type of shot which requires little or no basketball skill. Needless to say, I lost the battle, but “he who fights and runs, lives to fight another day.”
Most of those who participate in sport are superstitious. Those who say they are not still “play it safe” by repeating certain actions. A player about to shoot a free-throw will bounce the ball several times and spin it or take other actions according to his ritual prior to the throw. These days toward the end of a close game, you will see players on the bench locking arms. While it may not help their teammates on the floor, they believe it is a show of unity. Moral support perhaps, but isn't that sort of behavioral voo-doo best left to the fans?
The TV monitor at the scorers' table plays a prominent role in today's game. Some replays are acceptable for accuracy. However, for determining whether or not a foul is flagrant, the replay used in today's game may open a door that might remain open needlessly. I believe it’s best to keep the game active among the three teams on the court…the two basketball teams…and the officials.
Please Email or call me with your thoughts/concerns about today's basketball madness?
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