My Top-3 Reasons Why the NCAA Tournament is Better Than the NBA Playoffs

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The NCAA basketball championship concludes tonight, and with it, one of the most enjoyable spectacles in sport.

To me,  this three-weekend playoff is much more exciting than it’s professional counterpart. Here are my top-three reasons why the NCAA tournament is better than the NBA playoffs.

  1. The sudden-death format creates a sense of urgency that makes players go all-out, all-game! No coasting, no “we’ll get them next time.”  Plus, players who are trying to make it seem more motivated than players who already have millions in the bank.
  2. The referees  actually call fouls – particularly traveling and offensive charging. The NBA brain trust is so concerned about keeping scoring levels high that they feel it’s OK to allow an extra step when attacking the basket. It’s OK for big men like Shaq to bowl over a smaller opponent if it ends in a basket. And a charge is seldom called under the net – that would reduce the number of slam dunks in a game.
  3. And that seques into the final reason I enjoy the NCAA tournament so much. The teams play defense. I enjoy watching players who work their butts off on “D.” And I love watching teams struggle to crack and opposing defensive scheme. The games I enjoy the most may involve only 50 or 60 points. When baskets have to be earned, they have more value.

NBA officials…wake up. The pro game is so slanted towards the offence that baskets mean very little. Games in which teams score 120 points aren’t as much fun to watch as you think. Soccer, hockey and baseball have all managed to survive without triple-digit scoring!

To me, pro basketball is the Hollywood version of the game. The NBA feels that reality isn’t dramatic enough, so they shade the rules to embellish the more specatacular elements of the sport. In fact, they’re wrong. I’d rather watch the real thing. And millions of NCAA basketball fans obviously feel the same way!

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]NCAA basketball,NBA basketball[/tags]

PE Students Need Senior Citizen Role-Models

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One of the primary goals of any physical education program is the development of our students’ ability to maintain an active lifestyle throughout their lives.

I’m the beneficiary of my own school experience in PE and sport. I still play a weekly game of old-man’s basketball – in my old high school gym with some of my old high school schoolmates – in a ritual that has been part of that school since the mid-1960’s. The youngest in our current  group is about 18. But we have two players in their sixties, with the oldest still fast-breaking and hitting the boards at 65. He still has quick feet, a good jump shot and is perhaps the most aggressive player on the floor. We think the pacemaker he had installed three years ago has given him a mechanical advantage.

So, when I heard about Ken Mink, I wasn’t surprised. Ken is a 73-year old grandfather of six, who, after retirement from the newspaper business, realized he had some unfinished business. On the basketball court, that is. In 1956, he was kicked out of junior college for an act of vandalism that he didn’t commit. It seemed to be the end of his basketball career.

But he obviously stayed fit and maintained his skills. So, retired and with time on his hands, he enrolled in some courses at Roane State Community College, in Tennessee, and tried out for the varsity basketball team. His enlightened coach, 50-year old Randy Nesbit, had an interest in the possibilities of athletic performance in older people. He gave Ken a shot, and Ken made the team.

He now plays between five and eight minutes a game, and his opponents don’t take it easy on him. Nobody wants to be the player who let a 73-year old score on him. And in November of 2008, Ken Mink set a Guinness World record, becoming the oldest-ever player in collegiate basketball history to score a point. In fact, he sunk two points, on free throws, after getting fouled while pump-faking an opponent.

And as I’ve pointed out, Ken Mink isn’t the only senior basketball player out there. How about 77-year old Don Morris of San Luis Obispo, California, who shot 84% in the free-throw competition at the recent senior Olympics California state championships, winning a gold medal.  Eighty-four percent! Shaq, give this guy a call.

The point is, students should be made aware of the Ken Minks and Don Morrises of the world, so they know that sport and fitness isn’t just something they do now…it’s something they do for the rest of their lives.

If you want to see some video of Ken Minks and Don Morris, check out the following YouTube links:

Ken Minks – On the Inside Edition

Ken Minks Versus Regis Philbin
(Ken is deadly from 10-15 feet with his set shot).

Don Morris
(Also describes his mental cues for foul-shooting).

Welcome to 2009. I’ll see you in two weeks!

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]basketball,physical education,Ken Mink,Don Morris[/tags]

Masters Basketball Differences

I play in one or two old-men’s basketball tournaments a year (known by the more politically correct as masters basketball tournaments). They are a lot of fun, and are a great way for us over-50 codgers to get a competitive fitness hit.

I have, however, noticed several differences between masters basketball (at least, the way WE play it) and the competitive game from my younger days. For example:

  • You CAN play basketball without having to actually, run, jump or get back on defense.
  • Masters players pass the ball much better than young fellers. Mainly because it’s easier than running! Long fast break passes, however, are usually accompanied by an “ouch” or groaning sound of some sort.
  • Few masters players wear baggy shorts that come down below the knees. Takes too much energy to lift the knees…if we ever get into a situation in which knee-lifting is required.
  • The older the player, the less the feet move on defense, but the harder the hand-checks become. Driving the hoop against a really old player is like running through a threshing machine.
  • Unlike high school players, masters players often don’t WANT to get off the bench.
  • Pre-game nutrition is a different animal. For example, the pre-game breakfast of one of our players this year comprised a plastic container of cold, leftover, hot-sauce chicken wings that had laid on his hotel room floor all night…washed down with some hotel-room coffee. A pre-game meal, by another teammate took place during our normal warmup period and consisted of a club sandwich, fries and a beer. For some reason, he felt sluggish during the game that started 20 minutes later.
  • Apparently, the lifespan of a masters players basketball shoes is 20-30 years. Those sissy high schoolers want a new pair every year!

Masters basketball can indeed be a different game. Ninety per cent of us have realized that we may not make the NBA, but the game keeps us fit and happy and provides a great reason to get together. Having the skills to play, even as we age, is one of the fruits of the physical education and school sports programs we experienced when we were young.

And providing the opportunity for such play for future masters “athletes” is definitely one of the goals of today’s physical educators. Keep up the great work, everybody!

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]masters,basketball,physical education[/tags]

Kyrie Irving’s “Uncle Drew” Stands Up for Old Basketball Players

Kyrie Irving

I play old-men’s pickup basketball with a crew that meets every Tuesday night during the winter. Our oldest members are in their 60’s and have been partaking of this weekly ritual for decades. But there are also some younger guys in their 20’s who play with us.

Of course, there is some friendly trash-talking about old men and their ability to play the game (usually coming from the old men themselves). So, when I came across this video, I immediately sent it to my crew (immediately after I stopped laughing, that is).

It shows rookie NBA sensation Kyrie Irving in an amazing makeup job that makes him look like he’s in his 60’s or 70’s. When a player in a game of playground basketball gets “hurt,” Kyrie is convinced to take his place. The opponents are a group of cocky 20-something hotshots who don’t like the idea of playing against an old man.

The results are hilarious and some of “Uncle Drew’s” moves are amazing. I’ll be trying them all next year (not!).

I don’t know how many of the people in the video were aware that it was a setup (I’m pretty sure I saw NBA great, Clyde Drexler, standing on the sidelines), but it’s funny regardless. And for you PE teachers and basketball coaches who have to listen to trash talk from your students about your declining hoops skills – well, send them this video!

Check out the video here:

P.S. This is the final blog before the summer holidays. There won’t be a blog over the summer (who’s going to read it anyway), but we’ll be back in September. Have a great summer vacation! And as you can see, we’re experimenting with a new, cleaner look for the blog. When you come back next Fall, we should have it finalized. I hope you like it.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]basketball,Kyrie Irving,masters basketball,Uncle Drew>[/tags]

Coaches Who “Work the Refs”

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Boo hoo. My favourite teams in the NCAA basketball tournament are gone. My alma mater, Wisconsin, was hammered by my second favorite team, Cinderella squad, Davidson. Then on Sunday, Davidson was beaten by Kansas.

However, an incident in the Stanford versus Marquette game highlighted a coaching tactic that I really hate. The Stanford coach was ejected for walking onto the floor in order to continue complaining about a referee’s call. He had already been warned once about his behavior.

This took place early in the game – with three minutes left in the first half.
While assistant coaches are prepared to take over their team, this was akin to changing a ship’s rudder in the middle of a storm. His team bailed him out – barely. Stanford won on a last-second shot in overtime.

While I respect coach Trent Johnson’s sincere apology in the post-game interview, this incident brings attention to a form of coaching behavior that I truly dislike.

Many coaches, at all levels and in many sports, now feel they aren’t doing their job unless they are “working the refs.” The thinking is, if they complain enough about every questionable call, they’ll get some “make up” calls later in the game.

The result is a constant stream of complaints aimed at the officials…from the same builders of character who preach composure to their athletes.

They might indeed get an extra call here or there. But they also risk losing credibility with the officials when they really DO have a legitimate complaint.

However, the biggest drawback is the message they are sending their athletes. They tell them not to whine and sulk and complain after a bad call. Then they go ahead and do it themselves. It’s a mixed message and one that makes it difficult to develop positive behavior among young athletes.

One reason for this trend? The television attention that coaches get when they are performing their referee rants. It’s a not-so-subtle form of approval for their poor behavior.

Just let the athletes play the game.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]March Madness,NCAA, tournament,sports,sport,basketball,sports, referees[/tags]

Small Universities and March Madness

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This is one of my favorite weekends in sports…the first weekend of March Madness. There are so many games televised that I don’t have to leave my LazyBoy for three solid days. I usually get the chance to cheer for my alma mater (Go Wisconsin!) – at least for a few rounds of play. And this is the weekend for upsets, Cinderella teams and universities you’ve never heard of.

And that’s the benefit of sport for many of these smaller schools. It puts their name on a national stage for a few days. It gives them name recognition and, through the “halo effect,” provides an an impression of excellence to prospective students and donors . The subconscious thinking is, “Heck, if they’re good at one thing (basketball), they’re probably good at other things too (like academics).”

Here’s a guide to some of the small, lesser-known schools who have made it to the “big dance.” It’s organized by size of enrollment. Do you know the location of every school?

Davidson College, 1700 Students, Davidson, North Carolina
Mount St. Mary’s, 2100 students, Emmitsburg, Maryland
Sienna, 3000 students, Loudonville, New York
Butler, 4437 students total, Indianapolis, Indiana
Belmont University, 4500 students, Nashville, TN,
Drake, Des Moines, IA, 5000 students
Winthrop, 6292 total students, Rock Hill (Near Charlotte), South Carolina
Xavier, Cincinnati, OH, 6646 students.
Gonzaga, 6736 Students – Spokane Washington
Austin Peay, 9105 students, Clarksville, TN (45 minutes NW of Nashville
Vanderbilt, 11,847 students, also in Nashville,
UMBC (University of Maryland, Baltimore Country), 12,041 students, Baltimore, MD,,

Compare their enrollments with Michigan State’s 46,000 students.

The hotbed of small schools in the tournament seems to be the Nashville area, with Vanderbilt, Belmont and Austin Peay, all in or near the country-music capital.

And who is this year’s Cinderella team? It seems to be Davidson, who advanced to the Sweet Sixteen by beating Georgetown (enrollment 6500).

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

To subscribe to the free PE Tips of the Week Newsletter, Click Here!
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[tags]March Madness,NCAA, tournament,sports,sport,basketball,sports[/tags]