Yesterday, Nicole spent the majority of her day watching college basketball. I used my day of watching basketball all day on Thursday. In hindsight this was a huge mistake. Since she watches basketball as often as I watch hockey she had a lot of questions and observations. This turned out as an all day basketball talk, which is usually reserved for my friends who love basketball as much as I do. Without further ado, here is our second text exchange. Like the first one, I did it most from memory and if I got something wrong deal with it. The order of texts received and sent are kept the same. Enjoy.
Nicole: Again, I’m finding Ohio St vs Iowa St very exciting. So many turnovers.
Irving: If I was a fan of either of those teams I’d be screaming “What are you doing?” Over and over.
Nicole: It’s a mess but for the uneducated basketball palate, pretty exciting. What does it mean on the scoreboard when under Ohio State’s name it says bonus in the same colour?
Nicole: Like Iowa St says double bonus now.
Irving: So there’s a “limit” of fouls each team has per half, I think it’s 10 in NCAA, so once that’s reached every time a foul is committed whether it’s in the act of shooting or not the team gets to shoot free throws.
Irving: So this means they’re in the bonus.
Nicole: Which means?
Irving: If you’re in the bonus, every time your team gets fouled, you get to shoot foul shots.
Nicole: Ohh. So bonus is 1 extra, double is 2?
Nicole: You don’t usually?
Irving: So bonus means you get 1 free throw, if you make it, you get another. Double bonus means you just shoot 2.
Nicole: Ohhh okay. This makes sense.
Irving: And you don’t always shoot free throws after a foul, like if you foul someone 35 feet away from the basket, they’re usually not shooting so you just inbound the ball.
Nicole: So usually you only get a free throw when the foul is in the act of shooting?
Irving: Yeah, unless you’re in bonus or double bonus.
Nicole: Right. Okay, I get it. So if a team gets an offensive foul, the defending team still gets free throws if its a bonus time?
Irving: I’m 99% sure in the NCAA you don’t shoot free throws after offensive fouls.
Irving: Only defensive fouls count toward the bonus.
Nicole: Is offensive anything over your side of center?
Irving: No offensive fouls can be anywhere, it’s just when you draw a foul when the other team has the ball.
Nicole: Okkkkkkok. That makes sense. Basketball education.
Irving: But like a ref probably won’t call a charge or a moving screen 60 feet away from the basket unless it’s blatant.
Nicole: No wait. Wouldn’t an offensive foul be when your team has the ball?
Irving: In basketball an offensive foul is when the other team has the ball, because the team on offense commits a foul.
Nicole: Right. Discretionary call.
Irving: In the NCAA they call offensive fouls a lot.
Nicole: Wait what. If Ohio has possession and Ohio commits a foul, what is it?
Irving: It’s an offensive foul against Ohio.
Irving: And Iowa gets the ball.
Nicole: Right. That’s what I thought. That makes sense.
Nicole: And then if Ohio has possession and Iowa commits a foul, Ohio gets 2 shots now no matter what if they miss their first.
Irving: That means they’re in double bonus.
Nicole: They are.
Nicole: This is pretty low scoring right? Or is NCAA usually like this?
Irving: Basketball in the States is weird, they have different rules for every level.
Irving: What’s the score?
Irving: That’s high scoring for NCAA this season.
Irving: But that’d be a joke if it was an NBA game.
Nicole: Low for NBA?
Nicole: Okay. That’s what I thought.
Irving: If a score in the NBA was that low that’d mean both teams shot something like 30% or worse.
Irving: It’d be an unwatchable NBA game.
Nicole: Okokok. It’s crazy that it’s so different. Like hockey is standard. But I guess the rules are essentially identical.
Irving: In high school they don’t have a shot clock, and some schools don’t have a three point line. And NCAA has a 35 second shot clock, which I hate. And NBA rules aren’t perfect but I love it.
Nicole: The NBA clock is 20 something?
Nicole: Those seem like large rule changes.
Nicole: Do you know the logic behind them?
Irving: They are and not for college or high school but I do know why the NBA shot clock is 24 seconds.
Nicole: My Twitter is exploding from the end of that game.
Irving: So basically the guy who invented it saw a problem with no shot clock. Basically bad teams just stalled, with the ball against good teams, so final scores would be something like 20-19. So this guy calculated the number of possessions of each game to make it entertaining and he found that the optimum number was a shot every 24 seconds.
Too important to leave out of the post: Go here for more information about the shot clock and why it saved basketball.
Nicole: That’s neat. It’s actual logic and math.
Irving: Also the 3 point line in the NCAA is like 2 or 3 feet closer than the NBA.
Nicole: I wonder if that’s still optimal time in the NBA today? Like when was 24 implemented?
Irving: 60 years ago?
Nicole: 2 or 3 feet seems big.
Irving: It is, anyways I’m going to yoga.
Irving: I’ll educate you more after.
Nicole: Deal. I’m watching it all day. Have good yoga.
Quick note: Why did I go to yoga instead of staying in and watch all the games? Sunday is my favourite yoga class taught by the lovely Alex Mazerolle, I’ve missed one class since I signed up. That one class missed was because Nicole and our friend Brittany came to visit and we had to go for brunch after a night out until 3am. Priorities.
Irving: African proverb of the day: “I’m not what you call me. I’m what I respond to.”
Nicole: I like that.
Irving: Today’s yoga class was much better than Friday’s.
Nicole: That’s satisfying.
Irving: In terms of me being focused and not being like, “I want to watch games and Grantland Live.”
Irving: How are the games so far?
Nicole: Temple/Indiana is kind of boring. 37-34, 12 to go. There’s not exciting shots or drives. Just perimeter passing.
Nicole: And A LOT of missed shots.
Irving: This is why I dislike college ball, coaches try and control everything.
Nicole: I think the game this morning was more interesting to watch.
Irving: Indiana’s Oliadipo is one of the best players in the NCAA.
Irving: I think most NCAA games like Temple/Indiana than the one this morning.
Nicole: Yeah they mention him every 0.3 seconds.
Irving: Indiana’s coach is dumb.
Irving: People are waiting for him to screw up.
Nicole: Aaron Craft, from Ohio, who scored the winning 3 pointer in the earlier game has a 3.93 GPA and is premed. Easy, overachiever.
Nicole: Oh really. His team is losing right now.
Irving: Was it a buzzer beater?
Nicole: Yup. 75-75 and he waited until 2 seconds left. There was 0.5 to play after.
Irving: That’s not a buzzer beater, buzzer beater is when there’s no time left.
Nicole: Whatever. Close enough.
Irving: Another rule in the NCAA that needs to be changed. In the NBA if you call a timeout after a basket is scored and there’s .5 left you advance the ball to half court. In college you don’t and have to go the length of the court.
Nicole: Indiana hasn’t scored in 5 minutes. Yaaaawn.
Nicole: Now they just scored twice. Slightly more exciting.
Irving: Do the commentators try to mask terrible offense by saying Temple is playing great defense?
Nicole: No, great offense. They are raving about someone, Kalif something. How he can milk a lead all day.
Nicole: Kalif Wyatt. Apparently if it “gets close late this guy will have it every time.”
Irving: He’s good, he can beat a team by himself when locked in.
Nicole: He seems good.
Irving: I just looked up the gamecast, he’s 2/9 on 3’s…
Nicole: That he’s the best player in this game says enough.
Irving: I’m guessing since he’s taken 29 shots but has 26 of his team’s 43 he’s the only Owl who can create his own shot.
Nicole: It’s not great.
Irving: Stat geeks must be pulling their hair out.
Irving: I’m also guessing that a lot of Wyatt’s shots have been like 10 seconds left on the shot clock and he gets the ball and they run a play called, “Go bail us out.”
Nicole: Yep. He just casually shoots.
Nicole: Every play goes to him.
Irving: Olidapo needs the ball more.
Nicole: There’s a guy named Thomas Jefferson.
Nicole: The announcers said this was dramatic?
Irving: Of course they did.
Irving: Anytime a team doesn’t score for extended periods you got to watch.
Nicole: They just taught me that pressure can cook a ham.
Irving: Important life lessons here.
Irving: Unless you’re associated with Temple/Indiana or picked Indy to go far in the tourney I don’t know how you could care about this game.
Nicole: Indiana is going to end up winning, I think.
Irving: Up by one with 5 seconds left, do they have the ball?
Nicole: They won 58-52. They finished by shooting fouls.
Irving: KU/UNC should be better, just because Ben McLemore on KU is responsible for my favourite NCAA GIF from this year.
Nicole: That’s good. High hopes.
Irving: Also KU’s coach, Bill Self is one of the best coaches in the NCAA. While UNC’s coach Roy Williams is one of the most made fun of coaches in the NCAA.
Irving: Most telling thing for me when just glancing at the stats. Besides the fact Wyatt scored 31 of their 52 points. As a team they shot 8 free throws total. Lack of attack, although Indiana does have some big bodies but still.
Nicole: Yeah, it was pretty slow.
Irving: From a non-bball fan standpoint what’s your view of March Madness? And just how people get so excited for it?
Nicole: I love the idea of it. Fans and alum get fired up to cheer on their schools. In a lot of ways, the actual game seems secondary to brackets and betting. But I am intrigued by the attention and revere given to college players. I find the games themselves exciting when scrambly, usually more appealing to watch for me than the NBA. I do think that 64 teams to start is overkill, but then I understand that that’s the point and there are so many schools is crucial.
Nicole: As someone with no stake in any team, I love the one and done format. So dramatic. I’d hate it if a team I loved was involved.
Irving: Do you feel like it’s too much pressure to put on a 19 year old? I think people forget that they’re college kids. Like what if one of them got into a huge fight with their girlfriend the night before a game or something?
Nicole: Mmmmmmmm. I think it’s a lot of pressure, but I think their coaching and support staff are the best people around at managing that.
Nicole: I think coaches and their staff are incredibly related to success in college basketball.
Irving: It’d be an impossible job.
Nicole: Definitely requires some talent.
Irving: And I’m not talking about just getting players and filling seats which is the main priority now but actually mattering to the kids they get and such.
Nicole: That’s the mark of a legendary coach.
Irving: Coaching, more important in hockey or basketball?
Nicole: I think it’s equally crucial in all college sports.
Nicole: NHL. They actually make a team work. NBA has to make 2-3 players work, and that doesn’t even necessarily have to be together.
Irving: I’m not going to say you’re totally wrong but I disagree with your analysis.
Irving: I don’t think coaching matters too much in the NBA, it’s more doing the less damage possible.
Nicole: NHL coaches have to get 23 guys to buy into a system and they have to work changes and PK/PP all game.
Nicole: I see NBA coaching more as player ego management. Making sure your stars show up and don’t murder other players/anyone.
Irving: NBA coaching is all about ego management but you still need to bring those egos together but NHL coaching for sure matters more.
Nicole: I think it has more of an outcome on the game for sure. I didn’t mean to say one was easier than the other, because NBA coaching is complicated and tough, but the NHL has more direct impact.
Irving: Here’s why NHL coaching matters more: you could have a player/coach in the NBA. That’d be impossible in the NHL.
Nicole: Yes. Agreed.
Nicole: Is there a more involved/complex/consequential sport to coach than the NHL?
Irving: I have a great question for you, why isn’t the Frozen Four a bigger deal than March Madness? For me hockey would be a way more exciting sport for single elimination than basketball.
Irving: I’d say football more so than hockey just because they have their fingerprints on every play.
Nicole: I think the Southern USA fuels March Madness. USC, AZ, California, Texas, Alabama, all up the Gulf Coast. And their cultural history has deep ties to college basketball. Hockey doesn’t work there, and it’s that population (I don’t want to say uneducated, but you know Southern US sports passion types right? Like the deeply passionate college fans who work 9-5 union jobs, travel to the same place every summer) that sustains tourney like March Madness.
Nicole: Sure, it’s popular nation wide but the heart of this tourney is the Southern US.
Nicole: It’s a different culture that makes that tourney happen.
Irving: So basically you’re saying the tournament has a better chance of doubling it’s size before the Frozen Four catches on.
Nicole: No question.
Nicole: I watched NCAA hockey for a bit today though. It was great hockey.
Irving: To my understanding, the market for them is Michigan and Minnesota.
Nicole: Possibly some Colorado, but essentially yes.
Irving: Not big media markets.
Nicole: None of them are. It’s pretty unfortunate. I’d argue that NCAA hockey would draw a large audience given the chance.
Irving: But I’m sure the fans they have now, bleed the sport.
Nicole: For sure. Do those States have competitive basketball teams?
Irving: NCAA or NBA or both?
Irving: Michigan does for sure. Michigan had the Fab Five. Michigan State has one of the best coaches in the NCAA with Tom Izzo. Minnesota is in the tournament this year but I wouldn’t call them a powerhouse or anything.
Irving: Minnesota is playing right now against Florida.
Irving: I wouldn’t recommend watching though, they’re down 18.
Nicole: The shoes in this game hurt my eyes.
Irving: Which game?
Irving: I think Miami is a little overrated, not saying they don’t deserve a 2 seed but don’t think they’ll have a long run.
Nicole: A large number of their team are wearing obnoxious shoes. Unnecessary.
Irving: What I just did there, is one of the reasons I’m not the biggest fan of March Madness. Everyone has an opinion completely determined by their bracket. Talking about a bracket is worse than talking about your fantasy team.
Nicole: Bracket talk is obnoxious.
Irving: Anyways, I’m more interested in Miami’s footwear.
Nicole: Like, why do neon orange and yellow shoes need to exist? It’s impossible to watch anything else.
Irving: We enjoy obnoxious footwear from time to time so this must be overboard.
Nicole: It’s troubling.
If you actually thought Nicole was going to watch all of the games you’re fooling yourself. Maybe, next year.
It’s Like I Have ESPN or Something – Nicole
I thoroughly enjoyed my day of NCAA basketball watching. And the accompanying text fest. I was pretty impressed with how interested I was in most of the games, even if most of the time I was more busy trying to figure out the strategy or notice set plays (or watch mascots massage their players or wonder when eye-scalding neon shoes became a thing) than actually watching the game as a whole. My major observation was that there seems to be a complicated contrast between heavy coach involvement and the actual panic driven, turnover ridden action I seemed to be watching – I felt like there was a lot more coaching than I’d ever noticed in an NBA game (maybe this is a college basketball thing), but this didn’t seem to be translating into the surgical, carefully executed play you (I) might imagine it would. Instead, rampant coach direction seemed to directly reinforce a scrambly, urgent, almost disorganized smush of bodies on the court. This was definitely unexpected, and gave me a lot to think about while watching. Perhaps finding the balance to respond to this riddle is the key to NCAA basketball success?
I like how that makes it sound like I know anything about basketball. ESPN, call me up anytime.