13 Theories to Make Sports More Thrilling: Banning Hack-A-Shaq

Hack-a-Shaq. We hate it. You hate it. The NBA hates it. The problem is that the hack-a-Shaq tactic can be a smart and useful strategy that sometimes helps teams win important games. “Hack-a-Shaq” is typically used by teams who are facing a player who has a low free throw shooting percentage. By fouling that player while their team is in the bonus, it forces the player to take free throws, which he would most likely miss. Fouling like this stops the clock, and often results in only one or zero points for the opposing team. The strategy was given the name Hack-a-Shaq because it was used against Shaquille O’Neal (a dominant Center, but terrible free throw shooter) for the majority of his career.

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Games get boring when Hack-a-Shaq is being deployed. Only one team is having offensive possessions, while the other is just shooting free throws. It’s hard to watch a player shoot five free throws in a row, and it’s even harder to watch a player miss five free throws in a row. Not to mention that this technique adds tens of unnecessary minutes to the game, which can make the last five game minutes end up taking 30 minutes. Along with spectators, the players dislike the Hack-a-Shaq strategy as well. They just want to play the brand of basketball they grew up learning, but sometimes it’s the best option. Even though it’s not sexy and sometimes even referred to as cowardly, right now there isn’t anything substantial in place to discourage teams from using this. And if it continues to work, teams will keep using it.

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The only rule in the NBA that discourages this kind of play is the one that says that if a player is fouled off the ball in the last two minutes of a game, that this player is awarded free throws and their team gets the ball back. This rule is somewhat effective, but coaches are more so using the Hack-a-Shaq strategy in the middle of games as well. There is also the long-standing rule that eliminates NBA players from a game once they record their 6th personal foul. However, nothing about this rule specifically addresses Hack-a-Shaq, and players can always spread their fouls evenly in this regard. While these are arguably steps in the right direction, the league needs to make more changes to stop or at least minimize the use of Hack-a-Shaq.

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There are a few other ways that the league could approach this.

  • First, the NBA could implement the late-game rule they currently have for just a longer period of time (two more minutes?). This isn’t extremely innovative, but would increase the desired effect of the rule that the NBA has in place.
  • Since teams generally foul the same player due to his horrid free throw percentage, a good rule would be if a single player is fouled off ball three times then any additional fouls would result in free throws for that player, and their team would get the ball back. This would allow a few rounds of Hack-a-Shaq, but only three times, then it would stop or the team could begin to “hack” another player. If this rule is implemented, then the two minute rule should be taken away, because that way the team could still use the Hack-a-Shaq technique strategically, and they would be able to foul three times near the end of the game for a few chances to get the ball back.
  • Another more extreme rule that the NBA could use would state that if any off ball foul is committed intentionally, the player fouled gets to take free throws and their team gets the ball back as well. Although this penalty may seem excessive, and might be the most unrealistic, something has to be done about Hack-a-Shaq.

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However, it is unclear whether or not the NBA wants to do anything about the rule. NBA commissioner Adam Silver has said that no rules will be changed because the Hack-a-Shaq tactic is mainly used against only a few teams, and only a few players. He has said that there is no point in changing the rules just a few players. Many people disagree with Silver in this regard, and the game would be much more fun and intriguing if one of the outlined rules above was implemented. Even if one of these wouldn’t stop Hack-a-Shaq, but it would be great to limit it to only a few hacks per game, making the strategy much more STRATEGIC.

13 Theories to Make Sports More Thrilling: Changing The MLB Draft

The first round of the 2015 MLB Draft took place on June 8th, and many baseball fans couldn’t have cared less. Some fans noticed because of a tweet or Facebook post made by their favorite team. Others found out it happened thanks to a brief SportsCenter segment. This would never be the case with the immensely popular NBA & NFL drafts. The first installment of Thuuz’s 13 Theories to Make Sports More Thrilling looks at why the MLB Draft isn’t more watched, and how it could be made more exciting!

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In the NFL, players must have been out of high school for three or more years before they are eligible to declare for the NFL Draft. Prior to the Draft, these former college stars participate in the NFL Combine. This is where they can display their athleticism, skills, and knowledge in front of teams’ coaching staffs and management.

In the NBA, players have to be at least one year out of high school before they declare for the Draft. Players that declare are typically college superstars, or have been excelling in a foreign league. Draft picks often make an immediate impact for their teams, seeing as NBA rosters are made up of only 12-15 players.

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The MLB Draft is the most boring draft for fans out of the major professional sports in the United States for a variety of reasons. The first reason is that not many people follow college baseball, or only tune in during the College World Series. Because of this fans don’t know of the top players that their favorite team drafted. Furthermore, fans probably won’t be seeing these players in the MLB for a handful of years anyway. Finally, the MLB draft is held in the middle of the week (June 8th-10th) during both the College World Series and the MLB season. Only diehard baseball fans have the time or attention span to tune in and watch the Draft unfold. However, there are some reasonable changes that could be made to made the Draft more exciting, and comparable to those of the NFL and NBA.

First, the college baseball season overlaps directly with the MLB season. While sports like football and basketball face the same problem, they have a different schedule. There are significantly less college football and basketball games than there are baseball games, the football and basketball schedules don’t get oversaturated. But with the MLB season being 162 games long and the college baseball season spanning several months, there is just too much baseball at one time. Baseball fans love the MLB and wouldn’t want to shorten the season, but there is a simpler solution. Move the college baseball season into the late fall and have it continue with the College World Series into the winter.

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While this would make baseball slightly compete with football, it would provide nice variety for football fans. Baseball fans who don’t follow football would seemingly love this idea too. They would have almost double the amount of time in which they could watch competitive baseball. This would obviously mean more people watching college baseball, which would make fans more knowledgeable, and thus enjoy the Draft more.

Something else that should be addressed is the date of the MLB Draft. Currently it is held from June 8th to June 10th (right in the middle of the MLB season and the College World Series). Barely any fan has enough time to properly digest all of this baseball. When to move it to? All Star Week. Not only would the College World Series be over, but the All Star Week is the perfect breaking point in the MLB season. This shift also would make sense because it would make the MLB more money. There are plenty of nights during the five day span that could use this attention-grabber. Not only would a massive amount of baseball fans watch the Draft, but the top picks could spend the week mingling with the best of the best in the MLB, learning tips and gaining wisdom. This seems like it would be a win-win, and it would definitely make the Draft more exciting!

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Finally, a more drastic measure could be imposed to make the Draft more exciting. One reason people don’t like the MLB Draft is that even the best prospects spend multiple years in the minor leagues before the emerge as superstars at the major professional level. However, if all non-injured first round picks were forced to start at least one game in the MLB in their first year after being drafted, they would assert themselves as young stars in the eyes of the fans. If players were to have to make an immediate impact at the major league level, fans would be a lot more conscious of who their team drafts. This would be a far-fetched, but simple way to make the MLB Draft more exciting!

Overall, while these ideas may never be incorporated into the MLB Draft, the desire for a change is still extremely popular. Both casual and diehard baseball fans understand that the Draft is uninteresting and has a seemingly minuscule effect on their team. The ideas mentioned are just some ways that Thuuz thinks the MLB could improve the Draft, and change this negative sentiment surrounding it. Stay tuned for next week’s installment of Thuuz’s 13 Theories to Make Sports More Thrilling!

Most Exciting MLB Games of 2014

10. September 28th: Marlins 0 Nationals 1

Zimmermann throws the first no-hitter for the Nationals in franchise history. With only a one run lead the Nationals had a game to win down the stretch as well as a no-hitter to protect.

Photo Credit: USA Today

Photo Credit: USA Today

9.May 5th: Rockies 11 Mets 10

Rockies scored 8 runs in the 5th inning to erase the Mets early 6-0 lead. The Mets reclaimed the lead in the top of the 9th, but a two run pinch-hit homer gave the Rockies a walk-off win. Troy Tulowitzki also passed the 1,000 hit mark in the game.

Photo Credit: Denver Post

Photo Credit: Denver Post

8. September 3rd: Nationals 8 Dodgers 5

Nationals were being shutout 2-0 when they called in Adam LaRoache to pinch hit in the top of the 9th inning. LaRoache belted a home run to tie the game in the 9th and hit a single in the 12th to give the Nats a 2 run lead. The Dodgers scored runs in the bottom of the 9th and in the 12th to stay alive but had no answer in the 14th.

Photo Credit USA Today

Photo Credit USA Today

7. May 18th: Braves 6 Cardinals 5

Back and forth game, Braves scored go ahead run in the top of the ninth beating a play at plate off of a wild pitch.

Photo Credit: FoxSports.com

Photo Credit: FoxSports.com

6. August 17th: Pirates 5 Nationals 6

Nationals took a 4-2 lead into the top of the 9th but the Pirates stormed back scoring 3 runs. Then a clutch single from the Nats tied it up in the bottom half of the inning, and a sac fly gave them the walk-off win in the 11th

Photo Credit: The Washington Times

Photo Credit: The Washington Times

5. September 12th: Giants 4 Cardinals 5

NLCS game 2: Giants score on a wild pitch in the top of the ninth and game looks to be headed to extras until Kevin Wong hits a walk off homer. The Cards had 4 HR’s in the game

Photo Credit: NY Post

Photo Credit: NY Post

4. April 23rd: Giants 12 Rockies 10:

Slugfest: 9 Homers in the game, 6 by the Giants including a go ahead grand slam by Hector Sanchez in the top of the 11th inning. Game went back and forth in the high scoring affair. Rockies still put up a fight down 4 in the bottom of the 11th scoring 2 and putting a runner on first before a double play ended it.

Photo Credit: SF Examiner

Photo Credit: SF Examiner

3. May 20th: Giants 4 Rockies 5

Giants went ahead 4-3 in the top of the 9th on a double and brought in closer Sergio Romo. With a runners on first and third 2 outs, a double from Arenado brought in both the tying and winning runs wing a line drive double

Photo Credit: CBS Sacramento.

Photo Credit: CBS Sacramento.

2. September 30th: A’s 8  Royals 9

AL Wild card game: The A’s came out strong at home in the 1 game playoff with their mid-season pickup Jon Lester on the mound. KC came up with a comeback down 4 in the 8th inning to send the game into extras. The Royals stole 7 bases in the 12 inning classic.

Photo Credit: MLB.com

Photo Credit: MLB.com

1. October 10th: Royals 8 at Orioles 6

ALCS game 1: KC’s Alex Gordon came up with the big hit with a three run homer in the top of the 10th. O’s put the pressure on in the bottom of the 10th with runners on first and second but came up short.

2014 MLB #1 Kansas City Star

Champions League Round of 16 Review

Paris Saint Germain and Chelsea-

PSG - ChelseaPhoto Credit: The Guardian

Les Parisiens and the Blues met in the Round of 16 for the 2nd straight year in the most enticing draw of the round. In the first leg Chelsea scored early, but PSG came back with a valuable equalizer to send the series to London on a draw. The following game at Chelsea was an instant classic (and of course earned a 100 Thuuz rating). After a red card for PSG striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic at 30’, and a Chelsea goal at 81’ the Blues looked destined to advance. Then, 5 minutes later PSG stormed back with a goal to tie it. In extra time Chelsea converted a penalty to take the lead, but PSG came up with one last equalizer with seven minutes left to advance based on away goals.

Shaktar Donetsk and Bayern Munich-

Bayern MunichPhoto Credit: BBC

This matchup was the most one-sided of the round. The draw started off with a very boring 0-0 draw at Donetsk, with Shaktar parking the bus and not letting Bayern score. The second game in Munich was the polar opposite, with Bayern wearing down their opposition en route to a 7-0 victory and progression into the quarterfinals.

Schalke 04 and Real Madrid-

This draw was a lot closer than many expected. After a 2-0 victory in Schalke in the first game, Real Madrid was expected to easily handle the next game. But Schalke wouldn’t go down easily, and put up four goals against Los Blancos. Luckily for Madrid, they stayed in it with three goals of their own. Even though Real lost in the second leg, they still advanced on the 5-4 aggregate.

Basel and Porto-

A matchup between two of the more obscure Champions League teams, and both came out with something to prove. Porto dominated play in the first match, but they were held to a 1-1 draw. In the second match, the score was more reflective, and Porto came away with a 4-0 victory to advance to the quarters.

Arsenal and AS Monaco-

MonacoPhoto Credit: BBC

In this draw, both teams had one good game and one bad game. In the first match at Arsenal, Monaco surprised the soccer world with a 3-1 road victory to give them a huge advantage going into the second leg. In that match, Arsenal reigned victorious with a 2-0 win, which brought the aggregate score to 3-3. However, Monaco was able to progress on away goals.

Bayer Leverkusen and Atletico Madrid-

This matchup was the only one to be decided by penalty kicks. Leverkusen won the first game with a 1-0 victory, and Atletico won the second with the same 1-0 scoreline. In penalty kicks, Leverkusen missed three of its penalties to allow Atletico to advance to the next round.

Borussia Dortmund and Juventus-

Dortmund might be having a nightmare season in their domestic league, but they were still a contender in the Champions League. In the first game at Juventus, Juve defeated Dortmund 2-1 to carry an advantage into the second game. Dortmund may have been too aggressive trying to get goals, because Juve put three goals past them in the second leg for a convincing 5-1 aggregate victory.

Barcelona and Manchester City-

Man City BarcaPhoto Credit: New York Times

Another Round of 16 matchup that was a repeat of last year, Barca and Man City provided another highly anticipated draw. Barca defeated City 2-1 in Manchester thanks to a pair of goals from Luis Suarez. In the second match in Barcelona, Barca only won 1-0 thanks to an outstanding performance from Man City keeper Joe Hart. Despite the meager scoreline, Barcelona dominated the entire match, and looks to be a scary team to face next round.

Quarterfinal Outlook-

Other than maybe Chelsea, every team that advanced was expected to do so. The quarterfinals are arguably the most exciting round because it features premier matchups, with twice as many games as the semifinals. The round features three Spanish teams, two German teams, two French teams, and a Portuguese team. The draws for the quarter-finals are: PSG vs. Barcelona, Atlético Madrid vs. Real Madrid, Porto vs. Bayern Munich and Juventus vs. Monaco. 1st legs will be played on the 14th and 15th of April, 2nd legs on the 21st and 22nd of April.

NCAA Basketball Conference Championship Preview

Championship Week commences Monday, as most of the major conferences hold their championship tournaments. This allows for another week of March Madness, complete with stunning upsets, amazing individual performances, and crushing defeats. By the end of the week, most of the NCAA tournament bracket will be set. Championship Week is the time for bubble teams to finish off their resumes, national contenders to assert their dominance, and underdogs to shock their conference and earn an automatic bid. Here is a preview of eight major conference tournaments.

ACC:

ACC

The ACC is consistently one of the strongest conferences in the country, and their 2015 conference tournament should only further that point. The conference could send seven teams to the NCAA tournament, so the conference tournament has huge seeding implications. Duke and Virginia are the obvious favorites, but there are at least six teams capable of winning it all. Look for North Carolina to slip by Louisville in the second round to set-up a matchup with Virginia in the semifinals. Additionally, Duke should be wary of NC State, as the Wolfpack beat the Blue Devils on Jan. 11, and also defeated Louisville and UNC in the second half of conference play.

The pick: Virginia

Big 12:
Big 12 - Perry Ellis

The Big 12 also enjoyed a very successful year, finishing with five teams ranked in the top 25. Oklahoma State and Texas are the two teams on the bubble. Texas will have to top Texas Tech and then likely Iowa State to make a strong case for the tournament. Oklahoma State beat Kansas, and Baylor twice, but lost five of their last six. They’ll get a quarterfinal matchup with in-state rival Oklahoma. Look for Baylor and Oklahoma State to make deep runs in the tournament and challenge Kansas for the conference championship.

The pick: Baylor

Big East:

Big East - Darrun Hilliard

The Big East enters its conference tournament with five teams over 20 wins, including #4 Villanova. Xavier is the only team on the bubble, and will likely need to top Butler to solidify their case to the committee. Villanova is one of the most well-rounded teams in college basketball, with six players averaging nine points per game or more. The Wildcats have only been beaten twice all season and their depth is unmatched.

The pick: Villanova

Big Ten:

Big Ten - Frank Kaminsky

The Big Ten could have up to seven teams in the NCAA tournament if the cards fall the right way during the Big Ten tournament. Purdue and Indiana sit squarely on the bubble, with RPIs of 56 and 57 respectively. The Boilermakers hold the four seed in the tournament, and will face Iowa or the winner of the Nebraska-Penn State game. Purdue topped Iowa back in January, but the Hawkeyes won six straight to close out the season. Indiana will have to top Northwestern to get to a matchup with Maryland. The Terrapins boast wins over Wisconsin and Iowa State, but lost to Indiana on Jan. 22. If Maryland can get past Indiana, look for another exciting matchup with Wisconsin in the final.

The pick: Wisconsin

Pac-12:

Pac 12 - Joseph Young

To say that is has been a down year for the Pac-12 might be an understatement. The only two locks in the conference are Utah and Arizona. Oregon looks to be in as well, but the Ducks cannot afford a first round loss in the conference tournament. UCLA won their final three games, but losses to Cal and Arizona State (whom they might face in the first round of the tournament) undermine their body of work. The potential semifinal matchup between Utah and Oregon is intriguing, as the Ducks will fight to not be one of the first four teams to play in the NCAA tournament, and Utah will battle to get a top 3 seed.

The pick: Oregon

SEC:

SEC Kentucky

It is true that the SEC tournament is very important for a couple of bubble teams, like LSU and Texas A&M. But the real reason to watch is Kentucky. The Wildcats completed an unblemished 31-0 regular season, and will look to stretch their record to 34-0 by winning the SEC tournament.  With the country’s most impenetrable defense, Kentucky is the team to beat. LSU or Texas A&M could be a tough second round matchup for the Wildcats, as both teams played Kentucky close during conference play. However, expect Kentucky to run away with the conference title.

The pick: Kentucky

AAC:

AAC - Nic Moore

Cincinnati, Temple, and SMU, appear to have their tickets punched to the big dance, barring particularly bad first round losses. The AAC team with the most to prove is the two seed, Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane swept the season series with Cincinnati, but non-conference losses to sub-par teams like Oral Roberts and Southeast Oklahoma State (yes, you read that right) have hurt their resume. A third win over Cincinnati and a trip to the tournament finals would help Tulsa’s case.

The pick: SMU

Conference USA:

Conference USA has three teams with 20 or more wins, but Old Dominion looks to be the only team with a shot at an at-large bid. The Monarchs own impressive non-conference wins over LSU, VCU, and Richmond. Louisiana Tech is the one seed in the C-USA tournament, but they lost to Old Dominion by 20 points just two weeks ago.

The pick: Old Dominion