Tuesday, Jul 16 2013 12:00 AM

The Roadrunner Connection: D-Up for college basketball

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Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, the retired Shaquille O'Neal and Phil Jackson; what do they all have in common?

I'm sick of them all, but they have once again restored my faith in the amateur game of college basketball.

Thanks for being NBA drama-queens; I'll stick with the youngsters.

Seriously, this last couple of weeks has turned the NBA into a he-said, he-also-said soap opera as Dwight Howard left the Lakers for the Houston Rockets.

It then made news when Kobe stopped following him on Twitter (I guess that's an insult); Shaq said something about Dwight not being able to make it in Hollywood while his former coach Phil Jackson strayed from his passive-Zen philosophies to echo Shaq's sentiments by adding "maybe he'll be better as an Astro." Nice play on Houston-team words.

But if I've learned anything while paying attention to millionaire-crybaby-nonsense, it's that the purity of the college game, although not always completely innocent, still remains a major attraction for my personal attention.

I've always been honest about the NBA, I rarely pay attention until the playoffs, and even then you can catch me snoozing until game six or seven.

It lacks discipline, defense, hustle, strategy, defense, offensive sets -- and did I mention defense?

Making a defensive stop in the NBA playoffs is like chipping it in from the rough at Augusta, it may happen from time-to-time and when it does you pump your fist like you meant to do that all along. In college basketball defense is required, in the NBA it's just a suggestion.

Now college hoops isn't without fault, but it's still a better game.

Unfortunately, the powers that be in the NCAA tack on additional rules each season that seem to steer college basketball closer to its professional counterpart. This season we're being blessed with more replay; turning the courtside monitor into the equivalent of a referee's pacifier.

They again have decided to change the blocking/charging rule which they never got right before, so we're back to square one. Oh, and now a player can elbow an opponent in the face without being called for a flagrant foul as long as the officials deem it "incidental."

Nothing like gray area for officials to operate it, it seems like they do so well with that right?

But what do I know? I just watch hundreds of college games every season, many from press row and shake my head. What can you do? It's imperfect but it's better than the NBA alternative.

So I'll take the college game any day over the NBA. I hope coaches, administrators and others that have a say in our game look upward every year and try to make sure that college basketball stays true to its values and makes sure they don't stray down the side-show path of the pro game.

And for Pete's sake make sure the kids keep playing defense!


COREY COSTELLOE, a Tehachapi High graduate, is Director of New Media and Broadcasting for California State University Bakersfield.

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