Auriemma’s scathing review of men’s basketball is unjust


The Appalachian Online

Nick Joyner

According to Connecticut women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma, men’s college basketball is a joke.

During a press conference at the women’s Final Four, Auriemma was asked to give his thoughts on the state of men’s basketball. Although he has been wildly successful at Connecticut coaching the women’s team, Auriemma has never taken the step to coach men at the collegiate level.

“I think the game is a joke,” Auriema said at the press conference. “As a spectator – forget that I’m a coach, as a spectator – watching it, it’s a joke.  There’s only like 10 teams, you know, out of 25, that actually play the kind of game of basketball that you’d like to watch.”

That’s some harsh criticism from one of the most respectable figures in collegiate basketball.

Auriemma, though, was just getting started.

“Every coach will tell you that there’s 90 million reasons for it,” Auriemma said. “The bottom line is that nobody can score, and they’ll tell you it’s because of great defense, great scouting, a lot of teamwork. College men’s basketball is so far behind the times it’s unbelievable.”

Auriemma said the game should implement changes, like other sports have done.

“Every other major sport in the world has taken steps to help people be better on the offensive end of the floor,” Auriemma said. “[Major League Baseball] moved in the fences in baseball, they lowered the mound. They made the strike zone so you need a straw to put through it. And in the NFL you touch a guy it’s a penalty.”

Clearly, Auriemma strongly believes that men’s basketball needs to do something about the low scoring totals to improve the game. As a fan, he’s certainly entitled to his opinion. But, Geno went off the deep end.

“This is entertainment we’re talking about,” Auriemma said. “People have to decide, do I want to pay $25, $30 to go see a college scrum where everybody misses six out of every 10 shots they take, or do I want to go to a movie? We’re fighting for the entertainment dollar, here, and I have to tell you it’s not entertainment from a fan’s standpoint.”

It’s true collegiate basketball is fighting for the entertainment dollar, and it’s also probably true that the men’s game is a bit behind the times.

Even still, Auriemma shouldn’t have criticized the game so hard.

Every year when March rolls around, millions of television sets in America are tuned into the men’s NCAA tournament.

According to the Associated Press, the men’s final between Duke and Wisconsin was the most watched NCAA title game in 18 years. The games across CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV averaged 11.3 million viewers, the most since 1993 and an eight percent increase from a year ago.

Auriemma may not like the men’s game, but he is unjust in saying that the game is not entertaining from a fan’s standpoint. When you compare it to other sports, like Auriemma did, there are flaws behind that theory, too.

Moving in the home run fences and tightening the strike zone in Major League Baseball sounds good in theory, but baseball is still struggling.

According to BusinessInsider, in 2014, scoring in the MLB fell to 8.1 runs per game, a 20.8 percent drop in just 15 years. At the same time, MLB games averaged a record 3 hours, 2 minutes in 2014, a 15-minute increase in just the last 10 years.

In comparison to the NBA, yes, scoring has improved, but does anyone care about the NBA playoffs the same way they care about March Madness?

For some, yes, but for the most part, the NBA playoffs is about LeBron James, and whoever he is playing in the finals.

College basketball, like any other sport, has some work to do to perfect its craft. Scoring does need to be improved, and officiating needs to be more consistent. However, each season the NCAA tests minor changes to the game to improve the quality of basketball on the floor.

Let’s just hope the NCAA doesn’t share the same radical views going forward as Auriemma.

Column: Nick Joyner, Senior Sports Reporter