I doubt there is a Division I men’s basketball coach in America who hasn’t been asked about low scoring, poor shooting and the overwhelming emphasis on defense in the game.
Some fans and journalists complain about it, leaving coaches to either defend it, explain it — or both.
Yes, it can be frustrating when teams fail to hit the 30 percent mark from the field and games wind up in the 40s.
Those games still can be exciting, though, as was the case in last Sunday’s matchup between Miami and Clemson.
The Hurricanes won it 45-43 and the outcome truly came down to the final shot.
Still — from an aesthetic standpoint — it was not a thing of beauty.
The winners shot 35 percent and the Tigers were limited to 30 percent (and made only one of their first 17 shots).
I can’t say I have learned to love this style of play but I have grown to live with it.
If you go into a game knowing you will see physical, defensive play from buzzer to buzzer, you are more prepared for final scores that used to be numbers teams put up by halftime.
However, I also have covered a lot of Division II hoops this season, and it is remarkable how different the stats are.
For example, the nation’s leading scoring team in DI is Northwestern State, which averages 84.1 points per game.
There are only three more schools (Indiana is one) that score at least 80 points per outing.
And that is out of 347 programs.
The squad with the best scoring defense is Stephen F. Austin, which gives up 49.9 points per game.
There are 35 who hold their foes to less than 60.
In the DII ranks, it’s another story.
The nation’s leading offense belongs to West Liberty, a club that lights it up for 105.7 points per game.
One team averages more than 90 (Oakland City, 90.3 ppg), and 24 score in the 80s night in and night out.
Defensively, the best of the division is Cal Poly Pomona, giving up 54.7 points on average.
Much of the disparity has to do with the best DI players spending no more than a year in college.
That creates a revolving door of players, many who lack experience. And when you don’t have enough guys to keep the points flowing, you make up for it by stressing defense, defense, defense.
“I think that’s a part of it, no doubt,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said in January. “I think the lack of experience is going to lead to some poor decision making. I also think the defenses are much more sophisticated now than they were 15 years ago. I think people understand what people are trying to do, offensively, and make much more of a conscious effort to take you out of your normal rhythm of offense and force guys to do other things.
“Especially with young players, when that does happen in difficult environments, it’s not easy,” Brownell said.
Of course at the DII level one and done is not an issue. A team with four sophomores and four juniors one season will be a team with four juniors and four seniors the next.
There is a lot to be said for cohesion, and that cohesiveness helps players get a lot more comfortable when shooting the ball.
College basketball has been cyclical before, but now that the NBA snatches up the top collegians as quickly as possible (and gets some directly out of high school), low-scoring, defensive games might be the norm for the long haul.
If you want to see more scoring, Division II is your best bet.
Like the NCAA advertisement says, most players will be going pro in something other than sports.
But until it’s time to earn a paycheck in the real world, DII guys have four years to work on their aim.