Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Only Fitting End

The men's college basketball season could not have ended in a more fitting fashion.

No, not with the No. 1 overall seed as the champion.

To TigerBlog, the only fitting ending the season was the way it played out - with one more ridiculous, no-effect-on-anything video review.

Oh, and before he forgets, it took TB a little while to realize who Michigan's Mitch McGarry looks like, and then it hit him - former Princeton great Steve Goodrich, right down to his facial expressions and the way he walks.

Anyway, Louisville was 1.1 seconds away from the championship, headed to the line for a one-and-one. The coaches had basically started to walk to shake hands. The Cardinal players were celebrating; the Michigan players knew it was over.

Oh wait, though. Let's go to the monitor. And set the clock back to 2.4 seconds.

Does common sense never exist? Who cares if it was 2.4 or 1.1? Let it end.

And it's only going to get worse. The NCAA is talking about allowing refs to check the monitor in the final minute to determine any call they want. Don't think this will add to the nightmare that is the endgame in college basketball, what with timeout after timeout, foul after foul? Now you'll be able to add replay after player to the mix.

How many times in the tournament did the refs go to the monitor and give a team that was out of timeouts an extra timeout? At least make it so that if the refs go to the monitor that the teams cannot go to their benches.

As for the final itself, it was a brilliant display of basketball for 34:51. It started with a ridiculous performance by freshman Spike Albrecht, who averages 1.8 points per game and scored 17 in 16 minutes of the first half. And it continued with similar scoring from Luke Hancock of Louisville, which made a great run at the end of the first half to turn a 12-point game into a one-point game.

The first 15 minutes of the second half were back and forth like TB has rarely seen in a championship game. The teams had one highlight play after another, answering alley-oops with alley-oops and amazing finishes with other amazing finishes. It was unbelievably entertaining stuff.

And then, with 5:09 to go, the refs destroyed the game in one moment.

Trey Burke, who scored 24 points despite only playing six minutes of the second half due to foul trouble, made one of the greatest - and cleanest - blocked shots of all time. Instead, it was called a foul.

Louisville was up 67-64 at the time, and had the block stood, Michigan would have had the ball and all the momentum. Instead, Peyton Siva made both foul shots, making it a five-point game and jump-starting a 7-2 run. It would never be a one-possession game again.

Anyway, TigerBlog corrected predicted what would happen. Louisville-Michigan in the final, with Louisville the winner.

Well, after his can't-be-much-more-wrong original pick of Georgetown over Gonzaga in the final.

College basketball finds itself in an interesting place right now, in that it has become of a victim of having created a postseason tournament that is so popular that it has rendered the regular season almost completely meaningless. And the source of the popularity is the same culprit that is destroying the game.


With so many games on, ratings have plummeted for the regular season, to the point where there are dozens of games that earn a 0.0 rating. Of course, the fact that players can go to so many different schools and be on TV has helped create the parity in college basketball that makes the tournament - especially the early rounds - so compelling.

Attendance as well continues to go down.

What does this mean at Princeton?

During the 2012-13 season, Princeton averaged 2,667 fans for home games. That placed the Tigers second in the league, behind only, right, Penn - at 3,751.

The average crowd for an Ivy League men's basketball game this year was 1,921 fans. Harvard, the league champ, averaged 1,786.

TB can't begin to tell you how much time, money and human resources have gone into talking about and acting on ways to increase Ivy League basketball attendance, interest and everything else that goes along with it?

And now, at the end of the year, what do the numbers say?

Again, TB isn't sure. Are they good or not good? Is attendance where it should be? High? Low? If people aren't coming, why is that?

TB's sense is that the glut of games on television doesn't help schools like Princeton draw fans to its games, especially at the slightest notion that the weather might not be good on a particular winter night.

Beyond that, though, TB wonders if it's just that the only thing that matters to casual college basketball fans is the postseason. Maybe the over-saturation of games turns off the casual fan.

And that leaves only the die-hard fans, the ones that TB sees here at every game.

Again, as is usually the case, when it comes to marketing Ivy sports, TB has all the right questions - and very little way to get the answers.

No comments: