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By Staff | Jan 25, 2017

I talked to several kids the past two weeks and not once did any of them say anything disrespectful, in fact, they all were quite pleasant and willing to listen.

I noticed that about today’s kids, most are interested in what you have to say and some will even strike up a good conversation with you if you hit on a subject they know a little about. Most are polite and seem to show respect and accept any advice you are willing to offer. I like that about kids.

However some, although in the minority, have little respect for authority or for their elders and many times each other.

One of the things I like to do most is to watch peoples reaction’s to what goes on around them. That means when I am at a sporting event I keep my eyes on the coaches, fans and athletes as well as everything else I can take in. It also pays to keep your ears open because you never know what will come out of someone’s mouth.

I saw several good hard fought ball game recently and overall, the officiating was pretty good. Although, there are some who continue to bash the officials. Just once I would like to see them put on the black and white and do a game where every call would be perfect and satisfy everyone. I enjoy a good-officiated ball game and I think the officials try their hardest to make the proper calls. No one is going to purposely throw a high school ballgame. Do they miss some? Sure. Do they intentionally miss some and make the wrong calls? No.

This may be somewhat controversial and coaches, fans and players may disagree with me, but here goes anyway. I believe there are four things that have been taken from the game of basketball. Number one on the list is the addition of an extra referee. I think the purpose was to make it easier to cover the entire court and see more violations. However, I believe it has backfired. It has been my observation that the officials are now playing positions which causes friction between them when they miss a call and an official in another position makes it. Therefore, it’s better to not call anything than have problems with your partners.

I may be wrong, but that is what I seem to see happening.

The second thing I think needs changed is the addition of a high school basketball one-minute shot clock. I have seen way to many games won and lost because kids are forced to foul in order to get the ball back. Many teams lose their best players to fouls because a team gets a lead and stalls the game.

Most importantly, I think kids need to learn to shoot jump shots off the dribble. There are a few who can still do it, but the majority have to spot up.

That alone accounts for low scores and gives the defense an advantage. Games today are still exciting to watch and I saw some good ones lately but the high scoring affairs are few and far between unless a good team is pitted against a much weaker opponent. Breaking the century mark doesn’t happen nearly as often.

Last but not least, the three-point line needs to go. It has literally destroyed the game and if it has to stay it should be moved back to where teams don’t rely solely on the long ball to stay in a game. For example, kids down in grasshopper leagues can even make them at the present range.

Two referees, a one minute shot clock, jump shooters and elimination of the three point line and you would see better and more exciting high school basketball.

I’m an old guy now, and I’ve seen a lot of basketball over the years but is it just me or have you noticed too, that shooting and scoring have really declined? The mid-range pull-up jump shot is becoming a lost art, seems like all you see now is the floater, a slam duck or a three pointer. Shooting percentage has declined at all levels, high school, college, and NBA. Especially at the foul line where many games are won and lost.

Kids are quicker and generally more athletic these days, but many can’t shoot a lick. We used to see many teams with great outside shooters, guys and gals who could really light it up. Yes, there are still players like that… but not like some years ago. Why?

I think it’s a number of factors, but mainly there has been a decrease in emphasis on shooting which is really odd since getting the ball in the hoop is what it’s all about. Correct shooting form is very important, but I’m not discussing that here.

Many kids today simply don’t practice shooting as much as they used to. I’m talking about shooting in the off-season, out on the playground alone.

Most kids aren’t doing that nowadays. And they need to shoot a lot on their own. They need to see the ball go through the net many times to become confident shooters. Shooting by yourself allows you to work on correcting your errors without any pressure. Shooters learn how to “fix things” on their own. You want to be a good shooter, start out by shooting close to the basket, and then gradually extending the range further outside. Shoot 2-3 hundred shots a day and another 100 fouls shots.

Just shooting during practice doesn’t give players enough reps. Players need to shoot before or after practice, in addition to the off-season.

Years ago, shooting hoops was what we wanted to do in our free time. Kids today are great and hold our future, and I love being around them… their energy and spirit. Many have knowledge and skills that we didn’t have years ago.

Basketball clinics are great, but have you ever noticed that so much time is spent on dribbling drills and dribble moves, 1-on-1 stuff and how very little time is spent on shooting? Dribbling and dribble moves are important, but the bottom line is to get the ball in the hoop. Again, what are we emphasizing?

Years ago, all those great shooters, for the most part didn’t have AAU or the many basketball clinics that kids have today. Mostly they just practiced, practiced and then practiced more!

Some coaches think that we should not use the 3-point line in youth and middle school, I agree, again I believe we should eliminate it from high school as well. The 3-point line has and continues to take away from learning to shoot the mid-range, pull-up jump-shot.

So what’s the answer? I’m not sure, but I think we should encourage players to shoot more in the off-season, and before and after practice. Less drills and more dribbling and shooting, let’s refocus the emphasis. eparsons@tylerstarnews.com