What I Will (And Won't) Miss About The 2012-13 Season
The season is over, which means the reminiscing is already in full force. Despite a lack of so-called star power, this was a fascinating season with more twists and turns than Lombard Street. Overall, it was very enjoyable, but that doesn't mean there weren't things in it we could have done without.
Here's a quick rundown of what I will miss (and won't miss) about the 2012-13 season:
Will Miss: Seemingly daily upsets
People who fixate on individual talents in the college game were disappointed by the top-end quality of players, but the more egalitarian, team-based nature of this campaign created nightly mayhem that was exciting to watch. On two separate occasions this season, Indiana was ranked No. 1 in the nation, lost a game that week, and was still voted No. 1 the following week, basically because every other viable option lost. There were seismic shockers virtually every night and the league races were among the most interesting in any season I can recall. That was fun. Maybe we can do it again next year, with better talent in place so there are more high-quality games?
Won't Miss: Ref talk
Two major conferences just fired/had resign their supervisor of officials, which seems an appropriate postscript for a season punctuated by very questionable levels of officiating across the nation. There will be a lot of debate going forward about how to improve the consistency of refereeing across conferences. Should they be full-timers? Should there be a limit on the number of games a ref can work in a week or a month, or how much travel they can do between games? How can we make calls consistent across conferences and between the regular season and the NCAA tournament?
A couple of rules will be getting some needed adjustment, but addressing the block/charge call and the charge circle under the basket should also be broached. The current rule simply is not working, as refs are being asked to look in two places at once -- feet on the floor and contact between the two players -- and determine what violation took place. What's happened is that too many charges are being called when they should be blocks, simply because the defender was outside the circle. Get rid of the charge circle, and have officials go to a much stronger requirement of defensive position for a charge.
Will Miss: Dunk City
One of the all-time great March stories, Florida Gulf Coast's dunktastic approach to the game created a national frenzy as the Eagles took out Georgetown and San Diego State to become the first 15-seed to make it to the Sweet 16. Like any one-hit wonder, though, reality caught up, both in the regional against Florida and then in the aftermath, when head coach Andy Enfield jumped for a big offer at USC.
Won't Miss: The debate over outsiders
We had an Atlantic 10 team make the Sweet 16. Check that, we had an Atlantic Sun team make the Sweet 16. A Missouri Valley team made the Final Four and nearly took out the eventual champs. The Mountain West and Atlantic 10 both earned five NCAA bids. More and more coaches are deciding to stay at their high-quality non-major conference jobs because they're getting handsomely paid, are winning a lot, and don't have to the associated pressures of a high-profile gig.
There's no question that "outsiders" are viable national programs at this point, and high-profile early NCAA losses by teams like Gonzaga (beaten by an insane offensive stretch by a Final Four team) and New Mexico (can't explain that loss to Harvard; just a really poor effort) don't change that undertone. We haven't had a so-called mid-major champ yet, but five outsiders in the Final Four in the past eight seasons says we're not very far away from it happening.
Will Miss: Buzzer-beaters
Here are 27 of them. Good times.
Won't Miss: The Big East and major-conference realignment speculation
I already detailed my thoughts on why the split-up of the Big East is a good thing for the sport. Next season will be an exercise in relearning as a number of major teams switch conferences and a new conference rises, but with most things seemingly in place for now, perhaps we'll see additional speculation and moves limited to the smaller leagues for the time being. Of course, Jim Delany or Larry Scott can decide to change that on a whim, but for now, we seem to be in a place where there could be relative stability for the time being.
Will Miss: A legion of legendary load carriers
If Gonzaga's Kelly Olynyk and Creighton's Doug McDermott eschew their senior seasons to go pro, we will be losing the nation's 10 most efficient heavy-usage (> 28% possession rate) players. The one-man show is one of the great college basketball motifs, especially in smaller conferences where awareness of the star builds like some underground rock band hitting mainstream. Every hoops junkie wants to say they experienced it before it became cool. From every fan, thanks for all of the entertainment Nate Wolters, Trey Burke, Erick Green, Ella Ellis, Mike Muscala, Fred Hunter, Jake Cohen and Pierre Jackson. Special consideration also for C.J. McCollum (injury) and Matthew Dellavedova (not ball-dominating enough). We'll see some of you in the NBA, and the rest of you in our KenPom dreams.
Won't Miss: The lack of scoring
This was the lowest scoring season in more than two decades, and per Basketball State's database, there were 97 teams who scored fewer than 40 points in a game this season. What's worse, six of those teams won the game, meaning there were six games in which both teams scored in the 30s, including Manhattan's 34-31 MAAC win over Fairfield which set a shot clock era record for fewest points by a winning team.
Better athletes, overcoaching, tempo control and more complicated defenses, even at the college level, have created a scoring drought that needs to be addressed. The easiest (albeit short-term painful) change would be for refs to aggressively call all off-ball contact and hand-checking. It might make for a dreadful half-season or so, but teams and players would eventually adapt.
Will miss: Things I enjoyed watching
In no particular order: Michigan's offense; Louisville's defense; UCLA's recovery; Syracuse's resilience; Miami's renaissance; the Mountain West's regular season; Cody Zeller's rim runs; Kelly Olynyk's inside-outside game; Victor Oladipo's transformation; Tim Henderson, Spike Albrecht and Luke Hancock taking over the Final Four; Albrecht's and Ron Baker's Twitter heat checks; Seeing two of the nation's four 45+ point efforts live on consecutive Saturdays -- Mike Lyons (45 points) and Kendall Williams (46 points), both against Colorado State; Jamaal Franklin's self-lob off the glass; and probably 4,000 other things that I'm forgetting now that made the last five months so enjoyable.@AndyGlockner