CRAWFORD | Ten college basketball rule changes over the years th - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Ten college basketball rule changes over the years that might surprise you

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WDRB photo by Eric Crawford WDRB photo by Eric Crawford

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — After watching wall-to-wall college basketball for four days, I couldn’t help but come away thinking about what a great game this is.

I also couldn’t help thinking about how it might be better. The incessant intrusions into the game for television timeouts really need to be addressed. Officiating concerns are far from alleviated by the use of video.

The NCAA and its coaches’ committee do a good job of examining their rules every few years and trying to change the game for the better. Sometimes they hit, and sometimes they miss.

What I was surprised at when I took a look back at the rules changes over the years, is how many things have been tried. In fact, some of them are things I believe should be brought back! So before we enter another big weekend of college hoops, I wanted to take a look at some rules changes over the years.

You’ll notice that some of these old rules that have fallen by the wayside now seem down-right progressive.

I had fun looking at some of these changes. Check them out and see what you think . . . 

1. SHUT UP, COACH. Before the 1910 season, a rule was enacted that prohibited coaching during the course of a game — by either the coach or anyone associated with the team. A warning was given for the first violation and a free-throw awarded after that.

This isn’t unheard of. I kind of like it. The idea is, you prepare your team before the game, then let the players execute it once the game starts. It would never fly with today’s micro-managing coaches, but this still exists in parts of sports. In the USTA, coaching during matches is illegal (though many players break the rule often). In rugby coaches communicate very little with players during games.

2. DESIGNATED SHOOTER. Until 1922, a team could send anyone it wanted to the free-throw line when it was awarded shots. Most teams picked their best shooter, and he shot most, if not all, of the free-throws. A 1923 rule dictated that the player who was fouled is the one who had to shoot the free-throw.

It might be interesting to allow teams to designate a free-throw shooter in the final minutes of games today. Though it’s hard to find fault with the rule as it stands. The free-throw line was 20 feet from the basket until 1906, when it was moved to the current distance of 15 feet.

3. SUB WISELY. In Dr. Naismith’s original rules of the game, no substitutions were allowed. In 1920, rules were changed to allow a player to re-enter a game once after leaving. In 1933,  coaches were given the ability to re-insert a player twice after taking him out. In 1944, this rule was replaced and unlimited substitutions were allowed.

4. OVERTIME BONUS. In 1942, a player who had yet to foul out of a game was awarded an extra foul if the game went into overtime. This rule went away two years later, when the NCAA decided that five fouls would disqualify a player, with no extra fouls given. James Naismith’s original rules of the game allowed two fouls before being disqualified. That number was changed to four in 1911.

5. ALL RIGHT, COACH, YOU CAN TALK. There had been no talking during timeouts prior to a rule change in 1948 that allowed coaches to speak to their teams when time was called. Over the years, timeouts were largely used for players to rest or regroup among themselves. This passage on timeouts from Adolph Rupp’s “Championship Basketball,” published in 1948, demonstrates that timeouts were fairly calm affairs up to that point:

“What does a team do during a time out? Very often you will see a team call time out, a manager run out with the towel, and about all that happens is that the players use the towel to wipe off the perspiration. Little conversation takes place.”

Rupp also discussed when to call a timeout: “We do not permit the calling of time out in order for a boy to rest. the place to rest is on the bench, not out on the floor.”

6. QUARTERS! Anyone who has read my work for any length of time knows that I’m a big proponent of splitting the game into four 10-minute quarters. The women’s game instituted that structure for its games this season, and that is in keeping with every other level of basketball, from high school to the NBA. It makes for more natural breaks (including for media timeouts) and it can cut down endless trips to the free-throw line (a team goes into the bonus after five fouls in a quarter, but that limit resets at zero when the next quarter begins).

In 1951, college basketball changed to a quarter system. Whether it was well-received, I don’t know, but it didn’t last long. In 1954, the college game went back to two, 20-minute halves, where it remains today.

7. SIT DOWN, COACH. In 1964, a rule was instituted requiring coaches to remain seated on their bench except when the clock was stopped or “to direct or encourage players on the court.” The rule was aimed at coaches interacting with or inciting negative crowd reactions toward officials. In 1984, the coaching box was introduced, in which all coaches were to remain at all times unless seeking information from the scorer’s table. In 1985, coaches were given permission to stand up for the whole game, but everyone else on the bench was to be seated.

8. DON’T FLOP! In 1972 officials were given the authority to award an unsportsmanlike technical for flopping, if, “in the official’s opinion, the actor was making a travesty of the game.”

Some might find it humorous to know that this rule was deleted in 2002 — “because of lack of use.”

9. OFF THE BALL CALLS. It was also surprising that it took until 1973 for the rules to allow officials to penalize players for fouls occurring away from the ball — this included grabbing, holding and setting illegal screens.

10. WHO’s NO. 1? From 1957 until 1999, the numbers 1 and 2 were prohibited on uniforms. It was said to cause confusion with referees signaling how many free throws were to be shot.

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