INDIANAPOLIS – In the days leading up to Saturday’s Final Four against Houston, Baylor coach Scott Drew will focus primarily on the details of two games against two Texas powerhouses. Cougars can be very difficult to deal with. But Drew says he at least knows he’ll rise to the challenge and is comfortable on the couch in casual clothes rather than a suit.

One thing I know for sure, he said, is that we dress the way we do now [and that shouldn’t change].

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That sentiment won’t make Schneider Drew happy, but the whipping of the coaches is just one part of an unprecedented season hit by a unique pandemic that could define college basketball forever next season.

Those interested in the game would appreciate a return to the more traditional elements that have defined the sport. Live viewers should return next season to recreate the atmosphere that makes college basketball one of the most exciting sports in the country. In addition, coaches, players and administrators are currently discussing whether to make some changes this season, such as… B. creative programming, can improve the game in the future.

Schools were forced to scale back their schedules for 2020-21 as conferences focused on strengthening their leagues and avoided the unnecessary risks associated with travel or non-conference games. But this disruption has also created opportunities. Teams began scheduling games at random, sometimes only a few days in advance.

Martin Jarmond, director of athletics at UCLA, said there could be major conferences in the future, where part of each season is blocked and teams can schedule impromptu games.

Some are doing it now, but Power 5 schools should consider flexibility week, Jarmond said. I need to think about it more. There are many things to see.

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Craig Robinson, executive director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, also supports the idea.

Teams must be prepared to play against new opponents and adjust the schedule if necessary, he added.

Big Sky Commissioner Tom Wistrill said his league has already held meetings about retaining the more flexible roster options used this season. His conference has also been moved to Thursday through Saturday during the 2020-21 season to save money and minimize potential issues with COVID-19. It could also become a staple of the league.

We haven’t made a decision as a group yet, but I like the idea of a flexible schedule, he said. I also think back-to-back travel can help reduce out-of-control travel costs.

Limited travel for some coaches and others involved in the game was a benefit at the single-team NCAA Tournament held in Indianapolis in recent weeks. There is no indication that the NCAA will host such an event in the future. Is there a city that can properly host 68 fan bases once the crowds return? — but there are benefits on a more limited scale as well.

Oklahoma State’s Mike Boynton said there might be a way to make the NCAA Tournament a big event in one place once the fans are back, because it reduces the workload for fans watching their teams across the country.

I think we can create an even better environment [without a pandemic], he said. And less stress for families who have to travel multiple times in a short period of time.

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No. 11 UCLA defeated Michigan for the 18th time. For the first time in program history, and advances to the men’s Final Four.

Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann concurred with that idea, saying that using one venue, starting in the Round of 16, could be a great way to end each season.

The idea of keeping the Round of 16 and the Final Four in the same place is worth considering, he said. I think in a normal year it will really be an additional experience for both teams and the fans.

However, not everyone agrees that a single site is the best solution for the sport.

Houston coach Kelvin Sampson celebrated with his players at Lucas Oil Stadium on Monday after his school reached the national semifinals for the first time since 1984, but he also noted the impossibility of connecting with a large number of fans in different cities, some of whom don’t have the opportunity to attend games regularly.

I don’t think we should keep it on centre court because I don’t think it’s fair to the fans, he said. College basketball for players and fans. … Not everyone can afford to travel. There’s something romantic about applying for NCAA tickets, figuring out what you have and planning your year around that. I think there’s something very exciting about it.

Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner added: I think you should visit some cities. It’s part of the band. That’s part of the home field advantage.

Fans have found a way to support teams in scenarios where opportunities are limited. Can format changes change the way they travel? Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

It is also important to note that this NCAA tournament was not held in one place or even one city. At the first games in West Lafayette and Bloomington, several teams were sent on buses across the state.

Bloomington was an hour and 10 minutes away. It was too far, a division coach said. The games at the Hinkle Fieldhouse were scheduled too close together. Both teams were in their half of the training facility at the same time and only had 30 minutes on the ground. I felt rushed and hurried.

Although the single-venue concept has caused a stir on both sides, those who spoke with ESPN seemed to agree that the change to the NCAA tournament schedule was a welcome adjustment. The majority of respondents pointed to the Monday/Tuesday format for the Elite Eight. And many stakeholders said some of the changes were behind the scenes, such as. B. video conferencing with recruits, will continue – even if coaches can get back on the road.

Other subtleties that players, staff and coaches have noticed – and that the regular fan may have overlooked – may also affect the game in the future. Expanding the areas around the team benches – another adjustment related to COVID-19 this season – was necessary but not easy, according to many people who spoke to ESPN.

Hopefully the benches will be restored, Holtmann said. I think that has limited the camaraderie on the team this season.

However, given the limited arena capabilities, the energy within each team during games is an important resource. Purdue coach Matt Painter said he will continue to demand support for his team even as the crowd returns, and he will insist on bringing energy as one would in an empty gym.

He also said medical protocols and refilling precautions can remain in effect. The artist said he thought crews would continue to wear masks and take other precautions while on the road.

The college basketball handshake has left the path of the dodo, and could be a permanent change. Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Sportswire Icon.

Paster said he thought we had seen our last handshakes in college basketball. While vaccination rates continue to rise across the country, he said coaches are now more aware and cautious about how other illnesses, such as colds or flu, can spread through a team and affect the season if they are not careful.

I don’t think you should shake hands after the game, Pastner said, adding that he doesn’t think his players will share hotel rooms in the future. I’m thinking of a punch that stays here.

With all of these ideas and concepts in motion, college basketball will have to make some decisions about what worked and what didn’t in the 2020-21 season. Robinson said college basketball players and officials should be willing to talk about reclaiming some elements of this chaotic season if it benefits the game.

There have been many changes this season, such as. B. a single conference schedule and modified NCAA Tournament game days, he said. Whether these changes remain permanent or not, our sport must maintain this receptivity to new ideas. We don’t have to go back to what we always had.

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