By LARRY VAUGHT
Considering the athleticism of today’s college basketball players, why is the pace of play often still slower than it was 30 or 40 years ago even with the shot clock now in play?
That’s the question I posed to former Kentucky All-American Jack Givens, the Final Four MVP in 1978 when UK beat Duke in the national championship game.
“I think one of the reasons why is that we understood the ball passed up the floor gets there quicker than the ball dribbled up the floor, so we passed the ball and shared it,” said Givens. “Seems like today the game is a whole lot about showing you can dribble the basketball. We learned the old-fashioned way and I still think that is the best way to play.”
Givens says he gets frustrated at times watching today’s game.
“I am not real excited about an offense where one guy makes a pass and then you dribble, dribble, dribble and then make a move,” Givens said. “I like to see passes and guys sharing the basketball.”
Kyle Macy was Givens’ teammate on the 1978 national title team and UK’s point guard. He says there was another reason for more passing than dribbling 40 years ago.
“When we played you couldn’t carry the ball and make the moves you do now,” Macy said. “Probably more of a team game than the individual game now.
“Players are bigger and faster now but I am not sure they have the same mentality for knowing how to help a teammate get a shot because they don’t understand the game as well.”
Macy jokes that today’s inflated NBA salaries can put more pressure on players to think more about individual play than team play in hopes of landing a mega contract.
“We didn’t know what the minimum salary in the NBA was,” Macy said. “We just focused on winning. We didn’t care who scored. It was not about I had to get mine so I could get my contract.”