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Do Colleges Need It?
December 09, 1957
NO: "College players would tense up in the last few seconds. It would tend to rush the game, lead to poor shots and to poor basketball."—Columbia Coach Lou Rossini
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December 09, 1957

Do Colleges Need It?

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NO: "College players would tense up in the last few seconds. It would tend to rush the game, lead to poor shots and to poor basketball." —Columbia Coach Lou Rossini

YES: "Today, you can put two teams in a telephone booth, and if they didn't want to play ball, the rules permit them to do just that."—Manhattan Coach Ken Norton

One of the most debated questions in college basketball today is whether the colleges should adopt some form of the 24-second rule used by the pros. This sets a time limit on shooting; if a team doesn't shoot within 24 seconds, it loses possession of the ball. Here, on opposite sides of the controversy which is argued at every annual coaches' convention, are two of the leading spokesmen: Coaches Ken Norton of Manhattan and Lou Rossini of Columbia.

NORTON: The college game has now come to the point where we must have a time limit to eliminate the farcical, no-action type of ball. Present rules permit this stalling, and we have appealed to the ethics of the coaching profession to no avail. We're supposed to be teaching competitive action. Too often now the offensive team stands around and the defensive team stands around.

ROSSINI: The type of deep freeze or staller that you're referring to has only happened in a few games, actually....

NORTON: A few games is too many.

ROSSINI: Well, I think the cases we're discussing occur toward the end of a game with a close or tie score. One team has possession and the other is back in a pocket. It's the duty of the defensive team—and I think it's excellent strategy—to go out and get the ball.

NORTON: That's another point. You're bringing up tactics at the end of a game. Here's what I mean: one team has a defensive approach, but the opposing coach feels he's going to play his own game, so he gets the ball right off the opening tap and holds it. Both coaches get stubborn. And you have people reading newspapers and throwing out pennies and the kids on the floor are sitting on the ball or something like that.

ROSSINI: Well, it's possible, but I don't think that kind of thing has been happening enough for us to get alarmed. I feel that college youngsters are not capable of playing a 24-second game and getting good percentage shots off—the type they've been used to up to this point. There would be too many shots that a coach would wince at. We'd be rushing the players.

NORTON: Now, Lou, you know our own coaches' Research Committee has gone into the figures on that. They have discovered that 97% of the time in college games the ball is shot or it changes hands within 12 seconds, and the majority of the time within six seconds. And some coaches offer this as an argument why we don't need a time limit. That's just my point—a time limit wouldn't affect the 97% but it would eliminate the 3%, which I think is hurting the game. It would curb those coaches who are teaching the stall.

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