NCAA has new rules for hoops season

By Jeff Linville - [email protected]

The NBA season has begun, and college hoops isn’t far behind.

With preseason tournaments only a week away, here is a reminder of some rule changes that have taken place in the college game.

Hadn’t heard about that? The announcement came in early June, when fans were more concerned about where their favorite player had gone for a workout with an NBA team prior to the draft.

Here are a few highlights, then we’ll get into particulars:

• Shorter shot clock

• Bigger restricted circle under the basket

• Fewer timeouts, and a restriction on when to call them

• Flopping penalty

• Pregame dunk contests

• Increased emphasis on moving screens/picks

Many of these rule changes are to either clean up physical play or to speed up the pace of the game. There seems to be an unspoken desire, too, to be more fan-friendly, especially for those watching on TV.

The one we’ll all notice the most is the shorter shot clock. The first college clock back in 1985 was set at 45 seconds. Then it was reduced to 35 seconds in 1993, and will now be at 30 seconds.

Hand-in-hand with this, the NCAA will allow the use of instant replay to determine if a shot-clock violation occurred.

“Scoring in Division I men’s basketball dipped to 67.6 points a game last season, which neared historic lows for the sport,” the NCAA stated in making the change.

The issue of using a shot clock in high school has been brought up many times within the National Federation of State High School Associations, but has always been voted down, most recently in 2011. Still eight states have enacted a shot clock on their own: California, Maryland (girls only), Massachusetts, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Washington.

A shorter shot clock could lead to more action, which sounds fine, but then why did the NCAA take away another existing rule that helps ball flow? There will no longer be a 5-second closely guarded call on dribbling.

One of the things I like about college ball over the NBA is that the players move the ball around. You don’t have James Harden dribbling for eight seconds and then shooting. I just can’t agree with this one.

Another rule removal I dislike is the prohibition on dunking during warm-ups. Players going through layup drills before the game can now turn the practice into a nightly dunk contest. This is something I hope individual coaches oppose, but there will always be coaches like John Thompson who would be in favor of this.

It’s like a baseball player swinging for the fences at batting practice, trying to play Home Run Derby instead of focusing on good swing mechanics. Warm-ups are about getting the body prepared to play the game, not wearing out your legs trying to jump as high as possible for some meaningless dunk. What if a player pulls a muscle trying this before he’s warmed up?

Something I do agree with is eliminating flopping from the college game. Ever see that YouTube video of Duke’s Greg Paulus falling down on a fast break when no one even touches him?

The NCAA has given the officials permission to check replays on certain foul plays and “penalize” the flopping player. The press release didn’t stipulate what this penalty would be.

The NCAA would love to decrease collisions, because it isn’t free-flowing basketball that attracts the fans. It would also make it easier for refs to officiate.

Along those lines, the league is increasing the no-charge zone under the rim. The restricted circle is increasing from three feet to four feet after a tryout during the 2015 NIT Tournament.

I like this — heck, I’d agree with five feet. Players can jump up and dunk the ball from 10 feet out. They need a clear area around the basket to protect them from injury. No one standing inside the jump radius of a dunker should be getting a foul call, and this just makes sense.

As for the timeout changes, these make sense, especially for those watching at home.

For televised games, there are “media timeouts” every four minutes. You could have a coach call a timeout at 16:02, and then on the next dead ball at 15:56, there would be another timeout.

Now the NCAA says any timeout within 30 seconds of a designated TV stoppage would then become the media timeout. The advertising department at CBS will hate this, but fans should like it.

Also, a coach can carry only three of his timeouts over to the second half, not four. This will stop coaches like UNC’s Roy Williams from saving all of his timeouts for the last four minutes of the game.

Another thing that will speed up game play is that a coach cannot call a timeout during live action. We’ve all seen it: a team is behind so a player scores quickly and then calls a timeout to set up the defense. Since the trailing team doesn’t have the ball, it never made sense to let that team call a timeout anyway. That would be like the Panthers’ defense calling a timeout in the middle of a play because Andrew Luck was about to fire a pass downfield.

Along with rule changes, the NCAA also picked certain existing rules that need more emphasis by officials.

This year, the association wants to see the refs crack down on hand-checking on the perimeter by the defense and moving picks by the offense. As part of this emphasis on decreasing physical play, refs are supposed to crack down on rough play in the post and beating up offensive players moving without the ball.

By Jeff Linville

[email protected]

Jeff is the associate editor and can be reached at 415-4692 and on Twitter @SportsDudeJeff.

Jeff is the associate editor and can be reached at 415-4692 and on Twitter @SportsDudeJeff.

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