College basketball seems to be in a state of crisis.
The sport is fading into a niche market with only March Madness able to capture widespread national attention.
The reasons are many: The sport lacks the stars power it did when players stayed in school for four years. Defenses have free reign, deflating scoring totals and slowing the game. Timeouts at the end of the game grind momentum to a halt in the final minutes.
All of these are popular topics to improve the game. But which is the No. 1 thing our panel would fix?
Athlon Sports College Basketball Expert Survey
Question 4: What is the No. 1 thing that could be done to improve college basketball?
Reduce the number of timeouts
Implement baseball-style draft rules
Require players to stay two seasons rather than one
Shorten the shot clock
Enforce no-contact rules for the defense
Limit official reviews by time
Start the regular season later
Reform NCAA investigation process
Ban timeouts during play
"Teach guys how to shoot"
Make officiating a full-time job under NCAA
Widen the lane
• If you’re keeping track of the trends: nine of the responses had to do with timeouts, nine had to do with reforming the NBA draft rules and six had to do with the flow of the game.
• A note on “baseball-style draft rules:” This refers to the rules in college baseball where a player can go pro out of high school, but if he enrolls in college, he can’t enter the draft again until after his junior season.
• Our panelists expanded on this more than anything else we asked. Here are their responses:
• “Streamline the last few minutes. That would include fewer timeouts for a team per game, and eliminating the 60-second period after someone fouls out, which is just adding more timeouts.”
• “I would definitely get rid of one-and-done and try to implement the baseball rule. That would be ideal. If not, at least require two years of college ... And time outs should be cut back to four total but no more than two in the last two minutes.”
• "Limit officials to two minutes for a video review with an actual timer. Can't figure it out by then? Stick with the original call. Reviews take far too long and kill any momentum.”
• I'd like to see one-and-done become two-and-done. It would change the nature of recruiting in a good way and enhance the relevance of the academic side of things. In concert, I'd like to see the NBA draft opened up to players who want to turn pro out of high school. Let the NBA figure out what to do with those kids. No one should have to go to college. No one does now, but there isn't a compelling enough alternative.”
• I love the idea of baseball-style draft rules but I think the most realistic thing to improve the game is fewer timeouts. I’d like to see coaches have just three timeouts in the second half.”
• Change one-and-done to two-and-done. Great players staying even one more season would have a trickle-down effect on the quality of the game, because great players make those around them better. My close runner-up would be for USA Basketball to get more involved in skills clinics, which it has already begun to do. Nothing against legitimate AAU coaches and tournaments, but less summer games and more skills development camps, with an emphasis on ball handling, passing, blocking out, setting good screens and shooting mechanics, would improve the game as much as anything could.”
• “The college game is being watered down by lack of talent. I'd change the NBA one-and-done rule to the baseball rule where players can either declare out of high school or stay three years in college.”
• “Hire a bunch of former FBI guys to be NCAA investigators.”
• The best thing for college basketball would be de-emphasizing AAU, but that won't happen. So I'd say reducing number of timeouts.”
• “If the NBAPA would cooperate, sign me up for baseball-style draft rules. Including the no-declaration. If you’re a high school senior or college junior, NBA is free to draft you, but there’s no guarantee you sign.”
• “Get the NBA to eliminate age-limit rule. Let high school stars go directly to the NBA. College basketball was at its best when the game trended toward upperclassmen, not one-and-dones. Sure, the best ones will leave. But there's more overall talent in amateur basketball today than ever. College hoops would thrive with upperclassman-oriented teams.”
• “The baseball-style NBA draft rule. Would help the game locally and nationally. Lack of stars hurts it nationally. And fans of the passionate programs are robbed of the chance to watch guys grow up in their programs. You no longer see guys climb up the scoring lists.”
• “Coordinate all officials under the same umbrella, pay them more and make sure they work less.”
• “Enforce no-contact rules. Defense has too much power.”
• “Fix the timeout rules. Take at least one away (I'd remove two), and eliminate live-ball timeouts (especially called from the bench when the defense has the offensive team stuck. That's insane.)”
More than two dozen college basketball experts from throughout college basketball media participated in the Athlon Sports survey conducted in late February and early March this year.
All were notified their individual responses to our six questions would not be revealed on AthlonSports.com, but they were free to post their responses to their own sites, on their broadcasts or to their social media outlets.
The panel was comprised of:
Rick Bozich, WDRB Louisville
Mike DeCourcy, Sporting News
Chris Dortch, Blue Ribbon
Wes Durham, ACC Network/Fox Sports Network
Ryan Fagan, Sporting News
John Feinstein, Washington Post/NBC Sports
Pat Forde, Yahoo! Sports
John Gasaway, ESPN
Scott Gleeson, USA Today
Jeff Goodman, ESPN
Seth Greenberg, ESPN
Steve Greenberg, Chicago Sun-Times
Raphielle Johnson, College Basketball Talk
Blair Kerkhoff, Kansas City Star
Will Leitch, Sports on Earth
Mike Lopresti, NCAA.com
Troy Machir, Sporting News
Matt Norlander, CBSSports.com
Jerry Palm, CBSSports.com
Brendan Prunty, SI.com
Joe Rexrode, Detroit Free Press
Lindsay Schnell, SI.com
David Teel, Virginia Daily Press
Jerry Tipton, Lexington (Ky.) Herald Leader
Dick “Hoops” Weiss, Blue Star Media
Luke Winn, SI.com