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Schools of Thought: Two are not better than four

December 1, 2008
By BILL CAIN, The Leader-Herald

I was a little stunned when after the first seven minutes of play in the Johnstown-Northville boys' basketball game Friday, a first-round game in the Andy Palmer Tip-Off Classic in Canajoharie, there were still nine minutes left on the clock.

Canajoharie coach Rick Palumbo said the state Federation is considering going to a new format, using two 16-minute halves instead of four eight-minute quarters. The coaches have been told they can try it out in non-league games this season and offer their thoughts on the possible change.

So Canajoharie has tried it. Don't expect the Cougars to try it again.

Honestly, this was the best time to try it. It's a non-league tournament with four teams - four coaches to see how little they like the change.

The word I got when I asked coaches was they didn't like it. They lose a timeout each half, essentially, without the usual breaks between the quarters.

The kids get tired. The coaches have to adjust. There are just not a lot of good things to say about it.

Oh, but it makes it more like the college game!

So what?

Don't get me wrong. I like college basketball a heck of a lot better than professional basketball - college using the halves and pro ball the quarters. But the format of the periods is not the polarizing difference between the two for any fan I have ever known.

The reason many people prefer college ball is because the players play with more enthusiasm and there is more movement on the court, or they went to such-and-such university whereas few of us have played for such-and-such pro team.

None of that is going to be injected into the high school game by changing to halves - a format that will make smaller schools less competitive against schools with deeper talent pools and longer benches.

Think of how this change would affect the Western Athletic Conference. The Class D schools in the conference would get trounced most nights when playing up against Class C and B schools, not necessarily because of inferior talent, but because they would have fewer kids capable of running the court for a half without a few minutes to sit down in the halfway through.

Another possible reason I heard for the change in format is that it makes the games go by faster.

I like basketball. I don't mind being in the gym for the extra five or 10 minutes this change may sometimes save.

Besides, there is little reason to shorten the night by a mere 10 minutes.

These are not 10 minutes the players will be using to do their homework. These are 10 more minutes for the visiting team to spend in McDonald's on the way home.

By the way, both nights of the tournament in Canajoharie, the two games still lasted a combined three hours or longer. Roughly the same as if they played quarters.

It feels like a change being made for the sake of making a change. The only reason to change the format should be if the change makes the game better.

So far, nobody has told me how this change would make the high school game better.

Bill Cain is a sports reporter for The Leader-Herald. We invite your feedback on this or any other sports-related topic. E-mail your opinions or ideas to us at sports@leaderherald.com.

 
 

 

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