NIT Tournament to Experiment with 4 Quarters

Not all the news about March is about the Big Dance. Once again this year, the NIT tournament will feature several experimental rule changes in an attempt to improve the game play in college basketball. Of the experimental rules, none is more intriguing than switching from two, twenty minute halves to four, ten minute quarters. It’s a discussion that has lived within college hoops, at least on the men’s side, for some time now.

The critics have been there, and they were louder than ever after last year’s NCAA championship “foul-fest.” The NBA does it. Women’s college basketball does it. Men’s college basketball should be four quarters instead of two halves. With this change, teams will begin shooting two free throws on the fifth team foul of every quarter.

These experimental rules are being used in an attempt to better the on-the-court product. This rule, more than anything, will better the product. It will help the game flow, and it will just about eliminate games that turn into free throw contests when teams get into the bonus early in halves. If a team gets in the bonus early, they are at a huge advantage for the rest of the half. From a fan point of view, this is a rule you hope gets voted in.

Last year, the NCAA took a step in the right direction, attempting to use fouls and “segments” within a half. Each team had four fouls to give during each ten minute segment before entering the bonus. It was the right theory, but ultimately confusing. Moving to halves is much more similar to the rest of the sport and a lot more clear.

“The style of play in men’s college basketball is healthy and appealing, but the leadership governing the game is interested in keeping the playing rules contemporary and trending favorably,” – Dan Gavitt, NCAA senior vice president.

In addition to moving to quarters, the other changes include extending the three point line 1.8 inches, to meet the current FIBA distance, widening the free throw line to 16 inches, the length of the NBA, and resetting the shot clock to 20 seconds after an offensive rebound instead of the full 30. Of these rules, the shot clock reset is the most exciting, I think that will make end of game settings a lot more exciting.

All these rules could have an effect on the game flow in college basketball. A wider paint and further three point line could prevent college hoops mirroring the NBA and becoming an extended three point contest. The twenty second shot clock reset on offensive rebounds can prevent teams from dribbling out the clock in end of game scenarios. And last but not least, turning halves into quarters will make even the most foul-filled games easier to watch and less choppy. These rules won’t be able to be voted in until 2019, but we can get a preview into the future of college basketball during this year’s NIT Tournament.

Will Wade’s Recruiting Tactics Being Investigated by NCAA

Will Wade is the latest coach to have his name come across headlines this weekend. Yahoo Sports once again was the source reporting that the NCAA is investigating Wade’s recruiting tactics at LSU. According to the report, NCAA officials have spent the last six months examining the issue. Wade is in his first year as head coach at LSU. The investigation begin shortly after he hit the recruiting trail for the Tigers.

It’s not shocking to learn about this report when you see the class LSU has coming in for next season. The Tigers have four Top 50 recruits committed for next season, headlined by Emmitt Williams (#21 according to ESPN) and Nazreon Reid (#22). Other commits include Louisiana native Javonte Smart and IMG Academy’s Darius Days. Smart and Days are ranked 35 and 49, respectively, by ESPN. There’s having strong recruiting classes in your first year as head coach, but Wade has knocked one out of the park with this one.

There’s also Tremont Waters, who Wade secured shortly after taking over as head coach. Waters, a former Hoop Group Jam Fest MVP, has averaged 15.6 points, 5.8 assists and 2 steals a game this year. After decommitting from Georgetown and opting for LSU, he’s been one of the most sensational freshman in the conference. That’s saying something in a conference with Collin Sexton, Kevin Knox, Jeremiah Tilmon, and more.

It’s important to note that this investigation has nothing to do with ongoing FBI scandal. It is an entirely separate investigation being run by the NCAA itself. Friday, when a list of names were released with players who received impressible benefits from ASM Sports, LSU had multiple players on the list. None of these players played under Wade in his short tenure at the school, but this new report adds insult to injury.

It’s unclear if the NCAA will find anything that they deem illegal with Wade’s recruiting over the past year. But with all the news that has come out involving the FBI wiretaps, it’s interesting to learn about a separate investigation led by the NCAA. When LSU compiles a recruiting class comparable to the likes of Kansas, Kentucky and Duke, it raises an eyebrow. It could turn out to be 100% clean and good recruiting, but if Mark Emmert and the NCAA really does want to clean up the sport, more investigations like this are needed.

Making the Case For and Against Vacating Wins

The concept of vacating wins as a form of punishment has been a debate for a few years now. Some people understand the reasoning behind it. Others think it’s dumb and does nothing to punish a program. There are certainly valid points for both sides. Taking wins away doesn’t erase what a team once accomplished. At the same time, it can affect a head coach’s or program’s legacy, to an extent. Let’s take a look at the argument for and against vacating wins as a penalty.

The biggest, and really only argument made against taking away wins is that you’re not really taking away wins. These wins already happened, it’s a part of college basketball history. Sure, Louisville has to take down their 2013 banner. But as Kevin Ware said on Twitter: “Still got this fat a** ring…” Yesterday, Rick Pitino technically lost over 100 games and went to two less Final Fours and a National Championship. Most record books will still have Louisville as 2012-13 National Champions. The only difference is, there may be a tiny asterisk next to it. In reality, most kids growing up 30 years from now will have no idea Louisville had wins and titles taken from them from 2011-2014.

But if vacating wins isn’t the answer, what is? Many think postseason bans and loss of scholarships is a better answer than vacating wins. The argument on the surface makes sense. News comes out that a program cheated or violated NCAA rules, and people want to see immediate punishment. The problem is though, when a school is found guilty, it’s often by a coaching staff, or player who is no longer a part of the program.

Think back to Derrick Rose and Memphis. By the time a decision was made, Rose, and John Calipari, were gone. Think about Louisville yesterday. Rick Pitino is gone, no players who violated the rules are a part of the team. Why should they get punished? Why would you take scholarships away from David Padgett for actions made by Pitino and his staff?

Truth is there is no perfect answer. Did Rick Pitino’s legacy change with the NCAA ruling last night? Absolutely. But are people going to “forget” or pretend Louisville didn’t win that National title? Not a chance. You can’t punish the current team for something a past coach or team did and taking away wins doesn’t erase what that team accomplished. We want to know your thoughts. Is vacating wins a proper punishment for a team that breaks the rules? Is there a better option? Leave a comment and share your thoughts with us.

De’Anthony Melton Withdraws From USC

In some unsurprising news today, USC guard De’Anthony Melton withdrew from school to pursue his NBA career. Melton sat out all season after being linked to the FBI case in the Fall. In January, USC announced that he would miss the remainder of the season, more news that was not surprising at the time. It’s weird to say a player is trying to better his career by leaving school mid-season, but there is no reason for Melton to remain on campus.

Prior to the FBI news in September, Melton was a projected first round pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. He was a well-rounded player for the Trojans last year, averaging 8.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists in his first, and last, year. He was also good for almost 2 steals (1.92) per game. Melton was expected to be a key contributor to a USC team that was thought to compete with the top of the conference and then make his leap to the professional level. Obviously, that did not go according to plan.

“I have decided to focus on honing my strengths and improving upon my weaknesses for competition at the next level.”

The FBI probe left Melton in an interesting position. In his statement via Twitter, Melton said he reached a crossroads. Ultimately he chose to leave school to focus on improving his individual game. I agree with this decision. Staying in USC won’t help him as much as training on his own will. USC is playing to get into the NCAA Tournament, not to get players ready for the NBA. Anyone associated with, or around that program should have that goal in mind. It’s hard for Melton to have that mindset while being stuck to the bench all year long.

At the same time, he hasn’t played all year. He’s entering the NBA Draft not having been seen by scouts in live game action in over a year. He can perform well in individual workouts, but he’s at a slight disadvantage compared to most players entering the Draft. There’s just not as much tape on him. He’s also not someone like Michael Porter Jr, who was highly touted for such a long time. Melton was touted the Swiss Army knife for his versatility as a freshman, but there’s no second year tape to back this up anymore.

Melton was thought to be a late first round pick prior to the start of the college basketball season. Many recent mock drafts have left him out of their first round, but there will be so many changes that you should not read too much into that right now. I think while this news is unsurprising, it’s the right move for Melton as he sets his sights on the NBA. It will be interesting to see where he lands in June’s draft, and how much he can improve his stock in individual workouts after missing his sophomore year.

Louisville Basketball Forced to Vacate Wins

The hits keep coming for Louisville basketball. In what has been an emotional season thus far, the school announced today that they will be vacating their wins during the 2011-12 season through the 2014-15 season. That includes their National Championship in 2013. The school must also give back the NCAA money received through conference revenue sharing for its NCAA Tournament appearances in 2012-2015.

The announcement comes after the NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee upheld their initial ruling on the sex scandal that broke in 2015 in which a former Louisville assistant coordinated stripper parties for recruits on campus. Louisville was appealing that the punishment put forward was too excessive for the crime. Little did they know, back then, that this would just be the tip of the iceberg.

This case was what sparked the dumpster fire that is Louisville basketball at the moment. It was the first step in Rick Pitino’s dismissal from the program. What was once a well-respected coaching career, with over 750 wins and a National Championship, is now tarnished with scandal and corruption, and no championship banner. The opinions and perceptions gravitating around Pitino as a coach have changed immensely over the past two and a half years since this story broke.

In total, the school will need to vacate over 120 wins, four NCAA Tournament appearances, two final four appearances. Louisville will also have to relinquish a Big East Conference tournament championship, AAC regular season and tournament title and ACC regular season/conference tournament championship. Think about that, they were in three separate conferences during this time. Now they basically were never a part of the AAC.

Vacating wins isn’t a huge punishment to a program. People don’t just forget the four seasons the Cardinals had. They won’t pretend Louisville lost to Michigan in the 2013 National Championship. It just adds more insult to injury when you couple it with everything that went on in the Fall. Louisville got caught paying a player, lost their Hall of Fame coach, and now got caught again with different recruiting violations.

The announcement leaves Louisville in even more of a hole than they were already in. Fighting for a NCAA berth, it adds a great amount of pressure on David Padgett and his players. Not to mention this FBI scandal news is still floating around out there. Padgett has done a good job given the circumstances this season, but there’s only so much outside attention a program can receive before it becomes too much.

This is obviously a lot for one program to go through, given that just a few months ago they were under heavy fire for paying Brian Bowen $100,000 to attend school. If you really want to clean up the game though, this has to be done. The NCAA needed to be firm on this if they want change. Corruption and scandals run deep in college basketball. There’s not going to be a clean, easy fix of it. Based on what was teased from this FBI report, Louisville won’t be the first team to vacate wins, they’re just the first.