When Mark Cuban says something, anything, you listen. If he told me to buy a Blockbuster Video franchise right now, I’d pool together my money and put in an offer. That’s why when he weighed in on what he claims is an ugly, broken college basketball product, we can be confident his opinions are thoughtful and measured.
Cuban told ESPN Dallas,
“If they want to keep kids in school and keep them from being pro players, they’re doing it the exact right way by having the 35-second shot clock and having the game look and officiated the way it is,” Cuban said Wednesday night. “Just because kids don’t know how to play a full game of basketball.
“You’ve got three kids passing on the perimeter. With 10 seconds on the shot clock, they try to make something happen and two other kids stand around. They don’t look for anything and then run back on defense, so there’s no transition game because two out of five or three out of five or in some cases four out of five kids aren’t involved in the play.
“It’s uglier than ugly, and it’s evidenced by the scoring going down. When the NBA went through that, we changed things.”
Cuban’s comments come in the wake of UConn’s women basketball coach, Geno Auriemma calling men’s college basketball a joke for it’s lack of scoring and entertainment value. Geno is a coaching legend and his comments have some merit, but it’s difficult for me to respect his opinion on an entertaining product when this year his team has beaten their opponents by an average of 42 points per game.
I don’t think Cuban actually thinks college basketball is unwatchable or as deplorable of a product as he claims. I think he knows that the NCAA is a spineless entity who will cave if they are put on blast by enough people who can hold the torch for the public.
And his claims do carry weight. The college shot clock is 35 seconds. I’ve had sex in less time than that. And for all the supporters who say that a lessened shot clock will make it much more difficult for the underdogs to shorten the game to increase their chances at winning are the same people who give their son’s participation trophies and best effort awards. I’d be interested to see the how the Kentucky-Wisconsin game would have ended up if the shot clock was 30 seconds, rather than 35. Wisconsin’s tactic of constantly draining the clock within five seconds would be far less of an advantage.
Another potential change that makes total sense is extending the lane to create less traffic near the basket. The current college lane is 12 feet wide, while the NBA’s lane is 16 feet wide (as is international play). Widening the lane would likely lead to more scoring, more dunking, more entertainment.
While I’m hesitant to call the multi-billion dollar college basketball industry unwatchable, adjustments need to be made. And I believe that now more than ever, thanks to Mark Cuban.