The time between the first weekend in April until mid-October is a little more than six months. That’s a long time to wait for college hoops fans.
But what if you didn’t have to wait that long?
If Kentucky head coach John Calipari had anything to say about it, you wouldn’t have to.
Speaking at the UK Basketball Tipoff Luncheon in Louisville on Monday, Calipari made the argument for fall practice in college basketball, similar to what college football does with spring practice.
Calipari believes college basketball teams should have 10 days in August to practice and hold on-campus scrimmages against foreign teams, before college football takes center stage in September.
And it sounds like a great idea.
Here’s the full excerpt of Calipari’s quote, courtesy of Kentucky Sports Radio:
“How about spring football? You like spring football? Something different, right? Spring football. Why don’t we have August basketball for the NCAA? There’s nothing going on in August. Let’s spend ten days of practice — how about we play against foreign teams on our campuses. Do you really want your team to go overseas and play right now? How about we do stuff right here?
“So August, for ten days, becomes NCAA basketball. Instead of having to worry about football ending, we’re going to go before it and start in August. It’s too good of an idea, believe me. Plus it’s mine which means it’ll never happen. It’ll never happen.”
The idea of fall practice for college basketball is interesting, and comes with plenty of positives.
First, it would allow college basketball to briefly take center stage before college football starts in September.
The beginning of the college basketball season is often overshadowed by college football because football is in midseason form, but a fall practice would bring attention to college hoops and give fans something to look forward to.
Calipari knows this. He coaches at Kentucky, which has a subpar football program and arguably the largest, most passionate basketball fan base in the country. Big Blue Nation would show up in droves to watch their Cats play in August, even if it was against a foreign team.
But Kentucky wouldn’t be the only place with a big draw. All of the “blue blood” programs — Duke, North Carolina, Kansas and others — would draw similar numbers. It would be a hit for the entire Big East Conference, which lacks FBS Football. All of that means extra revenue and attention for college basketball.
Second, it would allow teams extra time to practice and become familiar with one another so that they can hit the ground running in November.
Today’s college basketball landscape is dominated by one-and-done prospects and graduate transfers. Because of that, most teams incur tremendous roster turnover compared to a few years ago.
The extra practice time would be beneficial in helping new faces get used to playing with each other, and would also give coaches a chance to observe the talent they have on their rosters.
Once October rolled around, the team and coaches would be used to one another, and could start focusing on the start of the season. The result would be a better early-season product and more exciting basketball games in November and December.
Looking at the all the positives, it’s evident that the idea of a fall practice would be beneficial for college basketball. Even though Calipari likely pitched the idea because it would directly benefit his program (perhaps even more so than others), there is a lot of truth in his statement.
It may never happen. But for the sake of college basketball and its fans, it should.