Resisting the beautification of college basketball


In 2006, Bob Huggins restarted the heart of a K-State basketball program that had been so devoid of life for so long; the world had forgotten that, at one time, K-State was a force to be reckoned with.

Huggins transformed the identity of K-State basketball into a tough, physically-minded team that maybe could out-talent the guys on the other end of the court, but could and did out-tough and out-work those guys.

His disciple, Frank Martin, took it one step further by creating a rough and tough, angry, nasty basketball culture that so many K-State fans latched onto.

Meanwhile, Huggins brought his brand of basketball back to his homeland in the hills of West Virginia where he cultivated teams that won and wore you out with their physical play and sheer tenacity.

“Press Virginia” was what the media dubbed them last year after a year of having one of the best, most exciting defenses to watch in college basketball.

It might not have been pretty but then again, when in the world did Little Miss Sunshine pageants start taking place on basketball courts?

There are teams that play pretty. Their fundamentals are sound, passes crisp, jump shots landed, but after a while, you kind of want to take out Madden and put in NFL Blitz.

Opposing coaches don’t like it. They call it “bad basketball.”

The NCAA doesn’t like it and in May, their rules committee descended down from their cloud to introduce more safe guards to make sure that basketball stayed “pretty” and in “TV shape.”

They’re swapping out cookies for kale, whiskey for cucumber water, and all of your old Ninja Turtle tapes for “The Little Mermaid … 2.”

Is this hyperbole, probably … a little bit … yeah. But at the same, with the NCAA adding these new restrictions on more physical play and the added provisos to make offense able to move more clearly shows a clear agenda of wanting “ugly” basketball to go the way of the short shorts and the peach basket.

If this is the superior way of playing basketball, then why would the NCAA want to be doing this? If physicality is good for the game, then why limit it?

Teams that are good at being physical can muck up good teams best laid intentions of pretty basketball.

On Monday, the Big 12 coaches had their summer teleconference and when asked about the new rules, only K-State head coach Bruce Weber, Texas Tech head coach Tubby Smith and Huggins had comments that weren’t glowing in reference to the new rule change.

Weber said he felt like it wasn’t going to affect anything and thus, why do it?

“My big question is, will it really help that much?” Weber said in the teleconference. “When they experimented with the shorter shot clock in the NIT, it only increased it 1.2 points per game.”

Smith echoed Weber sentiments that the change might be unnecessary, because it’s the players not the play that makes the difference.

Only Huggins, like the proverbial cheese, stood alone in his outright indignation of the new rules.

“I thought we had a great game,” Huggins said in the teleconference. “I don’t know why we’re doing what we’re doing. I’m puzzled with the infatuation with the NBA. I think we have a better game; it’s more pleasing to the eye. The more you reduce the shot clock, the more the teams with great players are gonna win.”

Parity is the number one thing that makes college basketball so special. Cinderella is main character on the hardwood, she does not do cameos.

And sometimes, to preserve the parity, you just have to let the camera’s cut to commercial so Jackie Moon can yell, “Somebody hit somebody!”… legally … in a basketball way… then do it.

Preserving the legacy of college basketball is more important than dynasties or blue-bloods dining on the essence of the weak.

Without the physicality, college basketball loses a lot of its soul and its passion.

One coach may have been able to save K-State, but at that point, all of college basketball may be too massive to save.

Timothy Everson is a sophomore in journalism.

Tim Everson was born in Wichita, KS in 1994. Before fifth grade he moved up to Manhattan for one year before settling in Riley, KS where he graduated from Riley County High School in 2012. Tim has worked for the Collegian since spring of 2014 and took over as Sports Editor during the summer of 2015. Tim loves sports, music, movies and good food when he can get it.