Contact should be avoided, not rewarded
Louisville’s Hancock highlights need for better calls
On Monday night, Luke Hancock of the Louisville Cardinals became the first reserve in Final Four history to be named Most Outstanding Player. I’m not saying he didn’t earn it, but hear me out.
I agree that his 14-point run at the end of the first half kept the Cardinals in the game and his 22 well-timed points eventually propelled them to the title win. I just wish the officials had refused to reward him for the “shooting flop” that he resorted to twice in the game, one of which put Trey Burke, a Naismith Trophy winner and Michigan star, on the bench for much of the first half. Two three-point plays. Six points, which is the deficit by which Michigan lost.
In a back-and-forth game like basketball, each point matters. Each point should be earned.
Both the National Basketball Association and National Collegiate Athletic Association made good decisions by adding the restricted-area circle under the basket to eliminate flopping. Now it’s time to enforce the same rule on the perimeter.
Once a shot is faked to draw and bypass a blocker, the shooter needs to avoid contact as much as the defender, not instigate it by moving into the path of an airborne opponent. Not only does it disrespect the game, it’s dangerous.
Viewers saw the potential when Michigan’s Glenn Robinson III pulled a “Hancock” and flipped Chane Behanan of Louisville over his back, causing Behanan to land awkwardly on his neck. Louisville could have lost a second player to a horrible injury in a matter of just two games.
In my personal experience, it reminds me of my disdain for volleyball’s recent allowance of players in the net, minus the top three inches where there is white tape.
I coached the 15-2s squad for Lakes Volleyball this winter and spent the past four months relieved that I no longer play competitively with such sloppy rules in effect, but upset for my players. Someone seemed to bump knees or land on an opponents’ ankles under the net a couple times per match. This happens because it’s OK to hit the net and OK for a partial body part to cross the center line.
Twice in a game my girls and I were watching this weekend in Mankato, a Northfield setter ran headfirst into and under the net directly into a blocker. The down referee called her for a foot violation, but she should have been warned following the second incident to avoid a more serious injury in future play.
Injuries come hand in hand with athletics and there will always be risk. But in the case of Hancock and Robinson’s three-point foul draws, I think officials in each sport should reevaulate any call that rewards a player where contact could and should have been avoided.
Lastly, sports like volleyball and basketball started as finesse and agility-focused athletics. Let’s retain a bit of their history and respect the game.