Night Line: Clemson and Georgia Tech Crystallize Offensive Woes in CBBPosted by BHayes on February 15th, 2013
Bennet Hayes is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report from Thursday’s game in Atlanta between Georgia Tech and Clemson.
Clemson picked up its first ACC road victory of the season in Atlanta on Thursday night, holding off a late Georgia Tech rally to hang on, 56-53. And while Brad Brownell was pleased to get that monkey off his team’s back, it was a clunker of a first half that seemed to be on the forefront of everyone’s minds after the game. The first 20 minutes saw the two teams combine for 35 points and 45 missed shots, a certifiably ugly half of basketball by any measure, but sadly, an affront to the eyes that is becoming all too commonplace in today’s college basketball. The offense picked up in the second half, with each team shooting over 50% from the field. But the first half was still the hot topic for both coaches after the game, and each discussed the larger implication – why offense on the college level seems to be grinding to a halt.
One contributing factor that both coaches could agree upon is the physicality of today’s college game. The kids are bigger and stronger, and without any sort of freedom of movement initiative (like the one the NBA installed to help restore offensive flow), the rules allow players to be overly physical, both on and off the ball. Gregory wondered if a similar initiative might be installed soon, while Brownell mentioned that there is a fine line between “calling all the fouls and there actually being some playing out there.” It’s an issue that Jay Bilas has addressed on his College GameDay spot on Saturdays – further proof of a growing consensus that the rules need changed so that skill regains its appropriate value in college basketball.
The rules are clearly a big issue, but both coaches also touched upon the value of individual skill development. Brownell referenced it in the context of the AAU basketball scene, where kids no longer “just go into the gyms and work on their game for an hour; kids growing up now play games, but don’t practice.” Gregory did not disagree, but his issue came with the lack of time his players get for individual development in the offseason. In reference to the maximum amount of time coaches are allowed to spend working with players in the summer, the Tech head man asked, “How is a kid supposed to get better in two hours a week? We always talk about European players’ skill development, and it’s because they work out with coaches every day.” He also made clear that he was not looking for 20 hours a week or anything close to it over the summer, but that even getting an hour a day would go a long ways towards improving the skill level of players.
Quite simply, it was that kind of night at McCamish Pavilion. When the two coaches spend as much time running a state of offense in college basketball panel as they do discussing the game itself, it can’t come as a shock that their guys didn’t exactly set the world on fire out there. As Gregory and Brownell spoke, some solace could be found in the corner of the press room, where a small TV showed VCU and UMass competing in a game where the ball was actually finding its way through the cords. The monitor was a welcomed respite from the proceedings in Atlanta tonight, but unfortunately for college hoops fans, such relief is becoming increasingly difficult to find.