Monday, December 13, 2010

Time Out

Where to start from yesterday afternoon?

Let's start with Sal Alosi, the Jets strength coach who at this time yesterday was a virtual unknown and today is now one of the lead stories on, as well as every other media outlet in the country.

Alosi, as everyone knows by now, tripped the Dolphins' Nolan Carroll on the Jets' sideline as Carroll covered a punt in the second quarter yesterday, briefly injuring Carroll. Alosi, who has apologized, almost surely will 1) be the butt of jokes on every late-night show there is and 2) lose his job.

TigerBlog isn't sure what he would do with Alosi. On the one hand, it seems like some lines you simply can't cross, and what he did clearly crossed the line (and injured an opposing player). On the other hand, he deserves to have his entire record considered, and if this was out of character for him, then he should be allowed to keep his job, especially given how sincere his contriteness appears to be.

Then there's the whole collapse of the roof of the Metrodome in Minneapolis, which caused the Giants-Vikings game to be moved to Detroit tonight. It also took the Giants off the hook for not getting to Minnesota Friday, before the storm came.

The video of the snow as it tore through the roof was fascinating. And did TB really hear correctly that the way the snow is usually removed from the roof involves having just six people go up to clear it?

And while we're talking snow, could this really have been that epic of a storm in Minnesota history? TB would have guessed that there were dozens of storms just like this.

Anyway, the collapse of the roof meant that there would be no Giants game on TV Sunday at 1, which meant that the Knicks were sort of off the hook for scheduling a game Sunday at noon. And how about those Knicks? And can Knick fans really root that hard for a team that is still owned by James Dolan?

Still, with all of that plus the rest of the NFL, none of it is today's main subject.

Nope. Today is all about comparing two sports that couldn't be more different, especially when it comes to crunch time.

TigerBlog spent a good chunk of the afternoon watching the Akron-Louisville NCAA soccer final with the sound turned down as he listened to Princeton defeat Tulsa in two overtimes in men's basketball.

TB is pretty sure that soccer is a better game to watch when one team scores an early goal, since it forces the other team to push forward. The NCAA final a year ago between Akron and North Carolina was a dreadful game in that it ended 0-0 and went to penalty kicks. Yes, there was drama to the PKs, but an NCAA final - or World Cup elimination game, for that matter - shouldn't be decided that way.

This time around, the Zips scored with 11:24 to play and then hung on through a wild, frantic scramble in the last minute, when the Cardinals had two great chances to tie it, to win the first NCAA title in any sport for the school.

As an aside, TB loves knowing that there was exactly 11:24 to play when Akron scored and not that it was the 80th minute. He also loved knowing exactly how much time was left for Louisville to try to tie the game, rather than simply waiting for the ref to decide to blow the whistle whenever he saw fit. Why is it that international and professional soccer can't simply have the time on the board? The ref clearly has the ability to relay to the timekeeper when to stop the clock in college soccer.

Shortly before Akron was able to celebrate, Princeton put the finishing touches on its 82-78 win over Tulsa in a very good win for the Tigers on the road.

Kareem Maddox scored 31 for the Tigers, giving him two 30+ games on the young season, a shocking number considering that there'd only been eight 30-point games by a Princeton player in the last 25 years prior to the start of this year.

Maddox has 119 points for the year, with 61 of them in two games. Princeton, somewhat stunningly, has four players averaging in double figures.

Princeton is also 3-0 in overtime games and has won five straight. Of the 10 games Princeton has played, five have been decided by five points or fewer, and a sixth was one of the OT games.

And yet, all of that is for another time. Finally, TB will get to today's point: The end of a soccer game couldn't be any more different than the ending of a basketball game.

The NCAA final had one TV timeout per half, which is one more per half than the World Cup final had. Almost no soccer game is played with timeouts.

The end of the game was a frantic scramble that played out with only the players on the field in control. The coaches could have yelled all they wanted; it's unlikely they'd even be heard.

Contrast that with the Princeton-Tulsa basketball game. The last two minutes of regulation and the two overtimes featured how many timeouts?

If you guess "eight," you'd be correct. Eight times in the final two minutes alone, one of the teams called timeout.

And that doesn't even count when Tulsa's Joe Richard fouled out, giving essentially another timeout.

There is no other sport besides Division I basketball that affords its coaches the number of opportunities to interrupt the game to control what happens next.

All Division I games (TB is pretty sure, at least) begin with nine scheduled media timeouts. Eight of those TOs come at the first deadball below the 16, 12, 8 and 4 minute marks of each half. The ninth comes on the first called team timeout of the second half, which becomes a full media timeout.

Then there are the timeouts the teams can call. Each team gets four 30-second timeouts (next time you're at a game, get your phone's stopwatch to show you how long there is between when the 30-second timeout is called and the game starts again) and one full timeout.

Since one of the timeouts called by a team is going to be a media timeout, then there are nine media timeouts and nine possible team timeouts, for a total of 18. Since each team gets a timeout per overtime, that meant 22 possible timeouts for Princeton-Tulsa.

And every one of the 22 was used.

TB understands the idea that coaches don't want to leave anything to chance, and that in game-deciding situations, they want to make sure that everyone knows exactly what they want, whether on offense or defense.

But still. Who wants to be at a game with 22 timeouts?

The worst is for an NCAA tournament game, when the final minute has endless timeouts that lead to endless commercial breaks, all of which makes the end of the game last forever.

If you're going to start with nine scheduled media timeouts, then how about no team timeouts on top of that? See what impact that has on the games.

TB guarantees they'll be better to watch.

Hey, it certainly was the case with Akron-Louisville.


Jon Solomon said...

When Princeton played at Monmouth in 2007, the game was held using the NEC rules that include media time outs at the under 15, 10 and 5 minute marks instead of under 16, 12, 8 and 4.

To those unaware (including some wearing orange and black) it was a very confusing change.

I am not sure if the NEC still does their media time outs this way in conference (it wasn't the case at Monmouth last Wednesday) or if they've conformed to the rest of college basketball but that's one way to slash two stoppages easy.

Princeton OAC said...

The NEC now has media timeouts at 4, 8, 12 and 16 whenever there is any broadcast, even just Internet audio. The previous 5, 10, 15 rule was in place for all non-TV games.