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Etc.: Street ball
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If I do say so myself, that headline you just read perfectly describes the three subjects in this space this week:

Along came Jones: The story your favorite weekly newspaper covered about the Platteville Plan Commission meeting Monday night was far different from what I thought we’d be covering after the meeting agenda reached the office. Until Monday afternoon, I had some simple, if not easy-to-answer, questions:

• Where is Jones Street? (And why is there no sign?)

• Who was Jones? One of the first settlers, who brought his wife and according to History of Grant County, Wisconsin (1881), “three young ladies of venturesome temperament” and built a cabin on Water Street? Mary, the first woman married in town? Fanny, married in 1836 by Justice of the Peace John Rountree? S.N., a village trustee in 1846? John N., a Town of Platteville supervisor in 1849 and the Sealer of Weights and Measures in 1850?

• How many more Streets In Name Only (that is, streets on the official city map but not identified by signs) exist in the city?

I have answered only the first question — the “street” just east of Steve’s Pizza from Main Street to the alley north of Hartig Drug. (Which is apparently not a street either, but an alley.) I had assumed that Jones Street might have gone north of Main to what now is Park Place, separated by the former Platteville United Methodist Church site that became First National Bank and now is Livingston State Bank. 

On the clock: By the time this week is over I will have seen in the same week (1) a college men’s basketball game with two 20-minute halves, (2) a college women’s basketball game with four 10-minute quarters, and (3) a high school basketball game with two 18-minute halves.

The second of those three is the result of a large set of college basketball rules changes; there were 25 men’s basketball rules changes, but somehow the clock didn’t get changed. The new women’s rules essentially eliminate the 1-and-1 free throw opportunity, because the bonus now occurs on the fifth team foul of the quarter, not the seventh team foul of the half. Since fouls in the act of shooting get two free throws, and two free throws awarded on the fifth foul of the quarter, the bonus is what used to be the superbonus. (Got that?)

The women’s rules are certainly electronic media-friendly. I have never grasped the logic of four quarters of high basketball and four quarters of professional basketball, but two halves of college basketball. (Which changed from four quarters sometime in the 1950s.) A writer who favors quarters points out that, between media timeouts, timeouts each team is allotted and halftime, a Division I men’s game can be stopped 17 times. Going to quarters would eliminate one media timeout per half, and there is now one media timeout per women’s quarter. 

So then why did Wisconsin go to halves for high school basketball? It is because, in the absence of a shot clock (which due to expense is unlikely to be adopted by the nation’s high schools), too many teams held the ball for the final minute or more of each quarter. Going to halves is supposed to eliminate that, though I am skeptical. (On the other hand, if four quarters is electronic-media-friendly, two halves is not, particularly since almost no high school games are on commercial TV.) Four more minutes, meanwhile, is bad news for teams with small rosters.

On the road: On Saturday, the UW–Platteville basketball teams will be going in opposite directions — the men to Hope College in Alma, Mich., and the women to Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa. That happens during the nonconference part of the Pioneer seasons, before, now, New Year’s Day with the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference down to eight teams.

Given the UW System funding cuts, which include athletics, I wonder why the WIAC continues to schedule conference games in opposite — that is, if UW–Platteville plays Stevens Point in men’s basketball at home, the Pioneers and Pointers women’s teams play at Stevens Point the same night. Not only does this split each school’s fan base, but the schools are required to fund 14 road trips, instead of seven with two teams on one (possibly larger) bus. (At least the overnight trips to Superior are gone with Superior’s departure to the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference.)

The reason, I imagine, for their current conference travel arrangements is so that the men’s and women’s teams can each play at 7 p.m. weeknights instead of having fans stream in during the early women’s game, or leave before the late women’s game. It is unfortunate that women’s games aren’t attended as well as men’s games, but I’m not sure what can be done about that. 

I do not, by the way, expect the NCAA to go to quarters for men’s basketball, or the WIAC to adopt my idea to reduce their travel expense. Sports sanctioning bodies have a long history of ignoring my sensible suggestions.