Officiating was a factor in Missouri’s heartbreaking loss to Florida on Jan. 6 and brought up an interesting discussion with Tigers coach and East St. Louis native Cuonzo Martin last Tuesday as he talked about the impact fouls have on the fans watching the game.
Martin said over the years he’s grown as a coach in understanding how the team he puts on the court has an effect on how many people come to the game and whether fans enjoy themselves.
“I look back at some of our teams. I thought we had great defensive numbers, but how entertaining was it?” Martin said. “I enjoyed it. But I think you have to grow in a lot of areas.”
He had a number of suggestions to improve the game from an entertainment perspective, which includes giving each player six fouls, one more than the current allotment.
Martin said the physicality of the men’s game causes a lot of players to get in foul trouble. An alternative suggestion he provided was keeping the five-foul limit but allowing an additional foul in overtime.
He’s also been a proponent of reducing the shot clock from its current 35-second time frame but thinks the change should also be made at the high school level, which would better prepare players for the college game. Missouri currently doesn’t have a shot clock for high school games, while states like California and New York do.
On officiating, Martin said he’s never tried to make games about how they’re called, because it’s an easy excuse for when his team loses. While junior forward Kevin Puryear said it usually takes him the first five minutes of a game to see how a game is being called, Martin said he doesn’t think about stuff like that as a coach.
“You’d like to think if it’s a league game it’s all the same,” he said. “So that right there takes care of itself. Some guys have a quick whistle, some guys are very aggressive, you know their styles and how they officiate games. Certain guys you can communicate with, certain guys, OK, that’s part of the game.”
Martin also suggested going to four quarters in a college game rather than two halves, which is a transition the women’s game made a few years ago and was considered in men’s basketball. He also said there is still talk about the men’s game adding a sixth foul and joked his team could use it right now, which implied freshman Jeremiah Tilmon’s foul trouble. Tilmon, a bruising 6-foot-11 post, is a product of East St. Louis High.
“I think the women’s game is sometimes ahead of ours in a lot of ways,” he said.