It is not often, in fact it would be closer to rare, that I find myself agreeing with the "Talking Heads" that make up ESPN's College GameDay for men's basketball.
But I found myself nodding in approval this past weekend when former-Duke standout Jay Bilas stated his belief that the "game" of basketball has not improved over the past decade.
In fact, I began to wonder if he had been in attendance at the recently completed girls and boys state basketball tournaments at the Charleston Civic Center.
While I will never question a player's effort when they reach the "Elite Eight" of the Mountain State's basketball showcase, I have come away from our state's capital several times over the past years wondering if the game was getting better or if I was just looking at it through old, tired eyes.
The comment made by Bilas, and agreed to by both Bobby Knight and Dick Vitale, proved to me that I wasn't the only one thinking that the game was in need of some immediate help.
And before any of the fine fans at Hedgesville gets the thought that this will be yet another column crying for a shot clock, I actually enjoyed watching a coach do what he is paid to do-coach.
The Eagles' Kelly Church proved that you can get today's players to buy into doing what is best for the team. Was Hedgesville the best team at this year's tournament? The argument may go on forever. But the Eagles were the ones cutting down the nets on Saturday night and, in sports, that is all that really matters.
But back to the point.
It would appear that in a sport that really has no season, that individual play has failed to improve. It would seem that the more games that these young athletes are playing, the better the talent would become. But the opposite appears to be the case.
Few times did I witness a player pull up for a mid-range jumper and make good on his or her shot on a consistent basis. It has become more and more apparent to me that the 3-point shot is utilized way too often in high school sports and far too many times by players who should not be attempting shots from behind the arc.
And, then there are the "simple" skills called dribbling, passing, rebounding and playing defense. There simply is not enough room in this column, or the next few columns, to describe how these skills have been allowed to erode over the years.
Maybe, just maybe, coaches need to take a serious look at how many games their athletes are playing in comparison to the amount of time they are practicing those skills necessary to excel at the sport.
AAU has given coaches a wonderful venue for their athletes to display their abilities. However, that style of play rarely shows up when the player returns to his or her school team. And while it may allow a player a certain level of success, it has also sunk the sport to the level we see today.
Contact Jim Butta at firstname.lastname@example.org