What I learned from the Final Four

Now that I’ve had almost 48 hours to allow Monday night’s national championship game to digest, I’m prepared to share with you a few of the things that I’ve learned over the course of this year’s Final Four.

It’s all about location.

First, the Final Four needs to be held in Indianapolis every single spring. Much like the College World Series in Omaha, the Final Four should always be a destination, and no place in the country knows how to host a large-scale sporting event like downtown Indy.

Okay — I’m biased. I’m from Indy, but I’ve been to major sporting events and venues all over this great land of ours, and I’m telling you, no one does it better than Indy. The city is the perfect mix of clean, friendly, and size appropriate — everything worth doing is within walking distance. It helps that the NCAA headquarters are located just a few blocks from Lucas Oil Stadium, but the biggest selling point is Indiana itself. Indy is the cradle of hoops, there is no debate. No place on the planet loves basketball more than the state of Indiana, and its time that Nap Town become Title Town — for good.

Coaching matters.

Next. You can have all of the talent in the world, but if you don’t have the right coach in college hoops, forget about it. You’re not going anywhere. Look at the headmasters for this year’s Final Four. Coach K, Izzo, Cal, and Bo. Between the four of them, they’ve won seven national titles (11 if you count Ryan’s Division III championships) and made 27 Final Four appearances. That is absurd.

Coaching in the college ranks is much more tedious and trying than in the NBA. Recruiting high schoolers, developing players, piecing together a staff, mixed in with fundraising, compliance, academic performance issues, and the summer AAU circuit all
make coaching a top D-I program an arduous task. But these guys do it better than most, and they should be applauded for it — yes, even you, Cal.

Hey, one and done? Be gone.

Now … we’ve got to get rid of the one and done rule that has become such a scourge on our beloved game. Not only is it a complete disservice to many of the players who simply aren’t ready, it is a smack in the face to the academic system at large. Many players who declare for the draft do so before the spring semester is even completed, many times not even taking full course loads due to traveling issues.

For selfish reasons, the one and done is robbing the college game of its best players. Imagine if Jahlil Okafor stayed for at least two more seasons, the player that he would become. Now, I’m not against young men making money and supporting their families. If they can do that, good for them. Like I said, I’m being selfish and I truly believe that college hoops would be much better off if players stayed and developed their games.

Many of the complaints about college hoops being “unwatchable” would subside if the cast of characters wouldn’t turn over like the cast of Game of Thrones.

Fix officiating. Fix reviewing. Seriously.

Finally, college basketball officiating MUST be fixed. The game has become entirely too physical. Guards on the perimeter aren’t playing defense as much as they are hand checking their offensive opponent. Post players blatantly shove their way on the block like hockey players fighting their way for position in front of the net. Force these players to play a more finesse game.

And for the love of all things sacred STOP REVIEWING EVERYTHING! I understand getting calls correct, but if you try to convince me that Trey Lyles’ cheap shot this past Saturday night needed a review, I shall show you no mercy. That was ridiculous and embarrassing. If we are going to review a play, can we at least make sure that the officials performing the review have the best angles possible? What happened on Monday night that led to five points in Duke’s favor on missed out of bounds calls, should never happen in a D-I basketball game, and especially not the national championship game. Officials are constantly out of position to make correct calls and still struggle with the block/charge call. This has to be fixed.

We all know that college hoops is a beautiful game, but the game could use some cleaning up. From November until early April, the hardwood has our heart and soul, its time that we give it a little TLC. Every March, we all become as giddy as a girl on prom
night, and rightfully so — there is nothing better than March Madness. Nothing. As soon as the brackets are released, we head straight to our laptops to breakdown each game.

Until next fall … it’s been fun.

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