Four-Point Shots May Be Sexy, But Are They Sexy Enough to Get You to Watch Summer Ball?

Four-Point Shots May Be Sexy, But Are They Sexy Enough to Get You to Watch Summer Ball?

As you may or may not have noticed during this year's Olympic games, the FIBA basketball floor looks a lot more like the NBA court than it used to.

As time is moving on and basketball becoming more popular around the globe, it's not surprising to see an increasing uniformity of the rules.

Unless, of course, you're trying to launch a new alumni summer basketball league and then all bets are off and this is 'Nam, Walter, and there aren't rules.

Well, okay, there are some. What the hell are we talking about? Find out after the jump.

If you're feeling a little lost, The-BALL (Basketball Alumni Legends League) wrapped up it's two-day showcase unveiling Sunday night at Saint Joseph's.

The league, founded by former filmmaker Michael Wranovics, is meant to give former college standouts -- guys like Pat Carroll and Curtis Sumpter, who played their final games as professionals last night -- an extra opportunity to earn some cash by playing ball during the summer. It also aims to give fans the chance to see some old favorites they haven't in a while. You can read more on Wranovics' vision, scheduled to start in full force in summer 2013, by clicking here.

In an effort to differentiate itself, The-BALL, as upstart leagues are wont to do, has gone ahead and tweaked the rules and conventions of basketball just a bit. On the whole, the changes are actually kind of amusing and surprisingly palatable with one very notable exception. This isn't the full list of differences -- which you can read here -- but a list of the ones that immediately stood out.

-- A four-point line that extends the shooter 25 feet from the basket.

-- All and-one shooting fouls automatically result in three-point plays upon a made basket.

-- All non-shooting fouls result in one free throw attempt worth two points.

-- All quarters start with a tip-off and each team has to use a different player at each jump—no repeats.

-- The 30-second shot clock becomes a 20-second shot clock inside of five minutes to play.

-- Teams do not enter the bonus until the opposing squad registers 16 total personals.

-- Once a team is in the bonus, all fouls result in one free throw, again worth two points, and the shooting team retains the basketball.

-- There's a live band, whom I believe went by the name "Supreme and the New Experience" (but don't hold me to that), who played before and after the game and during all breaks. This isn't a rule change, but it was really phenomenal anyway.

Alright, we'll start with the good or plainly acceptable. Watching Dionte Christmas score eight points in two possessions removed any and all skepticism related to the four-pointer. As for the auto-and-ones, it really doesn't get in the way of the game at all and it's surprisingly easy to accept. Same with the one free throw worth two points -- there's suddenly a whole lot more drama surrounding a free throw; if he makes, well okay, and if he doesn't, "oh sh*t that was worth two points, this guy's confidence at the line is going to go down faster than normal!"

As for the bad, critics of the game of basketball often complain about how badly the game can break down inside of a minute to play. The trailing team starts fouling to buy time, constant trips to the foul line ensue, one minute takes twenty to play and you know the deal. But here's the thing, that's a wrinkle in basketball you really can't do away with. And giving the team the ball back when they're in the bonus completely negates this strategy.

Granted, the diminished shot clock and four-point line could certainly make things interesting, and if desperation starts sooner than normal teams might stand a chance to come back; but of all the rule changes, that one felt the least like real basketball. There was just something plainly and profoundly oft-putting about it.

On the one hand, you could say it's fair for an upstart league to want to garner as much interest as possible, and changing a few things could conceivably do that. On the other hand, this league is trying to appeal to people like me -- basketball addicts, because only basketball addicts are pining to watch Mark Tyndale play basketball again. We're pining for that because we're already addicts, and thus don't need to be further incentivized by gimmicks.

Then again, most diehard fans are the people who will complain about how things are going only to keep showing up. So if you're not losing what you presume to be your core base by making a few changes, it can't hurt to try to spark the interest of a few others along the way.

You just have to be make sure your diehards are really diehards, which the league in question obviously hasn't done yet. But once you've got the word out, you can go for broke.
Bear in mind the conclusion here is more theoretical than practical as specifically related to The-BALL, which only drew maybe 500 people last night. But I studied philosophy, so I'm a theory guy.

As always, your thoughts on whatever you'd like to address?

Eagles-Vikings 5 things: Game much bigger than Sam Bradford's return

Eagles-Vikings 5 things: Game much bigger than Sam Bradford's return

Eagles vs. Vikings
1 p.m. on FOX

Eagles +3

A familiar face comes to town on Sunday when the Eagles host the Vikings, the NFL's last unbeaten team at 5-0.

There's more to this matchup than a certain jilted quarterback returning to Lincoln Financial Field though. After an inspired 3-0 start, the Eagles have come out flat in two consecutive games, both losses. If this squad has any hope of getting back on track in Week 7, they can't afford to focus on the high-profile former teammate in purple sleeves.

Grinding it out
How good is the Vikings' defense? Even though they're ranked fourth in the league against the run and eighth in yards per carry allowed, they've faced the second-highest number of rushing attempts. Simply put, between a fierce pass-rush and ball-hawking secondary, offenses are afraid to put the ball in the air against this team.

Opponents have decided the best way to beat the Minnesota defense is by keeping the ball on the ground — shorten the game, try to create manageable third downs and play the field position game. Of course, the best way for the Eagles to beat Washington's 28th-ranked run defense last week, with a fifth-round rookie right tackle making his first career start mind you, also would've been to hand the ball off early and often, which wasn't exactly the game plan that we saw.

As good as Carson Wentz is, the Eagles probably aren't going to beat this team by airing the ball out. It may be inefficient and look ugly, but this time, head coach Doug Pederson needs to lean on the ground attack and take the pressure off of his first-year quarterback and tackle. Otherwise, a Vikings defense that ranks third in the NFL in sacks and fourth in interceptions can take this game over.

Self-inflicted wounds
Ticky-tack calls or not, you can't blame the judgment of the officials for all of the penalties the Eagles have taken the past two weeks. Last week in Washington, they drew 13 flags for 114 yards. The week before, it was 14 flags for 111 yards. Is it really any coincidence in two losses the Eagles have been penalized 27 times for 225 yards? Unlikely.

Were one or two or even a handful of those calls excessive? Have officials missed some potential calls that could have gone the other way? Yes and yes, as is always the case. When it's that many penalties for that many yards though, you can only place so much blame on the refs.

Simply put, the players need to clean up their acts. According to, the Eagles are committing the most penalties per game at 9.8. Only one other team is above 9.0. All excuses aside, the Eagles lack discipline right now, and it's hard to beat anybody when they are continuously shooting themselves in the foot, let alone the only undefeated squad in football.

No gimmes
There is no bigger indicator of winning and losing in the NFL than turnovers. So what happens when the two teams who cough the ball up the least are going head-to-head?

One thing the Eagles did correct in Washington was the little giveaway problem that cost them the game in Detroit. After losing their first fumble and throwing their first interception of the season in the final three minutes of their loss at Detroit, the offense went back to playing turnover-free football on Sunday, one of the positive things that could be said for the performance.

Yet the only team that's committed fewer turnovers than the Eagles is the Vikings, who have just one through five games. The ball security these clubs have displayed is remarkable bordering on unheard of. So what happens when the unstoppable force meets the immovable object? The first one to blink, or in this case make a mistake, might just cost themselves the game in what could be a tightly contested tilt.

Just a pit stop
If it feels like the Eagles' 34-3 romp of the Steelers at the Linc was a long time ago, well, it has been almost a month. Since then, there's been a bye week followed by trips to Detroit and Washington, putting the last home game at exactly four weeks ago.

Don't get used to the feeling either. After their game against the Vikings on Sunday, the Eagles go back on the road for two contests against the division rival Cowboys and Giants.

What does it all mean? Besides a travel-heavy stretch, it suggests this sandwich game with the Vikings is an especially significant spot on the Eagles' schedule, particularly given the slow starts they've jumped out to as the visiting team of late. That can't be blamed entirely on going on the road of course, but it certainly hasn't helped. Vikings or not, the Eagles could use a positive showing on Sunday before they go away again.

The Bradford Bowl
You didn't really think we were going to completely gloss over Sam Bradford, did you? Not even mention his name?

It's interesting, because right now, the trade that sent Bradford to the Vikings and cleared the way for Wentz to start at quarterback for the Eagles looks like a win-win. Both head coaches agreed with that sentiment as well. Mike Zimmer says Bradford gave the Vikings an energy back after starter Teddy Bridgewater was lost for the season with an improbable injury, while despite coming back down to earth a bit the last two weeks, it's obvious the Eagles' future is bright with Wentz.

That being said, there are some additional bragging rights at stake for both signal-callers this week, whether they acknowledge it or not. If the Eagles win, it shows their gamble on Wentz being prepared to start right away was justified. If the Vikings win, pundits could argue the Eagles never should've traded Bradford in the first place.

These are only narratives of course, and the Eagles' investment in Wentz and the Vikings' desperation trade for Bradford are both left to be judged somewhere down the road, long after this game has been played. Nonetheless, the result on Sunday is sure to spark some interesting debate in the coming days.

Penn State upsets No. 2 Ohio State, 24-21

Penn State upsets No. 2 Ohio State, 24-21


STATE COLLEGE – As his team slogged through back-to-back 7-6 seasons in his first two years as Penn State’s head coach, Langhorne native James Franklin heard time and again that he was in need of a signature victory.

Now he has one, even if he refuses to admit it.

Junior cornerback Grant Haley returned a blocked field goal 60 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with 4:27 left as the Nittany Lions stunned second-ranked Ohio State 24-21 on Saturday night.

“That’s for you (media) guys, all that signature stuff,” Franklin said.

Not exactly.

“It’s just a game that put Penn State back on the map,” Haley said. “We needed that signature win, and we did it tonight.”

The fans stormed the field after the Lions, 5-2 after their third straight victory this season, beat a ranked team for the first time since 2013 (Wisconsin). It was also PSU’s first victory over a team ranked in the top five since 1999 (Arizona) and its first over a team slotted as high as No. 2 since 1990 (Notre Dame).

Ohio State (7-1) saw winning streaks of 20 straight road games and 17 straight Big Ten road games come to an end, despite building a 21-7 lead through three quarters.

The Lions whisked 90 yards in five plays to cut the gap to seven with 13:32 left in the game, with quarterback Trace McSorley running two yards for the TD.

Freshman linebacker Cam Brown then blocked Cameron Johnston’s punt to set up a 34-yard field goal by Tyler Davis with 9:33 remaining, making it 21-17.

Ohio State mounted a drive behind J.T. Barrett, their splendid quarterback, moving from its own 13 to the PSU 28. Barrett’s 34-yard connection with wide receiver Noah Brown was the big play.

But the Buckeyes stalled, and Tyler Durbin came on to attempt a 45-yard field goal. Penn State safety Marcus Allen made a leaping block, however, and Haley scooped up the bouncing ball and beat Durbin and Johnston, the holder, down the left sideline for the go-ahead score.

Ohio State’s final drive of the night ended with a pair of Penn State sacks, the last a combined effort by defensive linemen Kevin Givens and Evan Schwan with 1:02 left.

When the final gun sounded, several Penn State players sprinted toward the south end zone and launched themselves into the front row of the stands, Lambeau Leap-style, among the delirious students. And thousands of fans, all clad in white for PSU’s traditional White Out, flooded the field.

“This is for everybody,” Franklin said later. “This community’s been through so much in the last five years (a reference to the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal and its aftermath), and this is a big step in the right direction, in terms of healing. I said very, very early on that for us to get where we want to be, we need this entire community together, and a win like tonight – I know I’m biased – but I believe that football has the ability to bring a community together like nothing else.”

Moments later, he caught himself and said he “didn’t want to spend a lot of time talking about the big picture.”

Rather, he added, “I just want to enjoy tonight.”