Jerry West on college hoops: It's a more difficult game today

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Jerry West has been an active member of the basketball community for more than 50 years. (USATSI)

What does one of the greatest basketball players of all-time think about modern day college basketball?

Jerry West told the Register-Herald of West Virginia that the scouting that's possible today, the uprise in terrific athletes -- which has led to much better defense -- and the advent of the 3-pointer has totally altered the game. And continues to do so. Some of it thrills him; other parts still confuse him. Undeniably the game keeps evolving, though.

It must be something to be Jerry West, this 75-year-old basketball icon, and basically have lived through four or five epochs of evolution in basketball. It was different in the '50s than the '60s; the '70s than the '60s; the '80s, '90s and so-on.

“It’s a different type of game today,” he said when asked why most shooters today do not have the consistency percentage-wise than those when he played back in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. “Coaches really emphasize defense today. They also put more emphasis on athleticism. It’s not only different but a more difficult game.”
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“And then you have a lot of driving from kids who have trouble holding onto the ball,” West said. “So it’s a different kind of game than it used to be. ... I don’t understand this, but there seems to be a lot of really poor free-throw shooting, even at the NBA level. And that tells me the competition isn’t very good.”

West is now with the Golden State Warriors, in an advisory role. While at West Virginia, West tallied 2,309 points and 1,240 rebounds in just 93 games ... and was 6-foot-3. He's still the leader, all-time, in both categories at WVU. This was before the 3-point shot, of course.

Hard as it might seem now for those in their teens and 20s, the game we know today will be very different from what college basketball will become 20 years henceforth. The basics remain the same, but the styles can't help but incur wrinkles, and that's what makes it so fun to follow as we get older. And the players stay the same age.

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Norlander is a national award-winning writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. He's in his seventh season covering college basketball for CBS, and also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics and... Full Bio

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