LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Another year has come and gone, and once again the NCAA playing rules oversight panel has messed around with the rules and declined to make the one change that could make the most real improvement in the game.
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not one of those who says the college game needs to be "fixed." College basketball is doing fine, on the court, at least. The game is exciting. It moves. There's nothing wrong with it. (College baseball and football, take note.) Some things could be done to improve it, but if they aren't, it'll still be a great game.
The new rule changes are all right. They're backing up the three-point line by a foot or so. That's good. It could open up play in the lane. It should give more value to the mid-range game. It's a good change.
They adopted a rule to speed up the pace of play – resetting the shot clock to 20 seconds after an offensive rebound, instead of 30. I don't like diminishing the value of an offensive rebound. I also don't like that having moved to speed the pace of play, they took a step backward allowing coaches to call live-ball timeouts in the final two minutes of games.
If there's a problem I have with the college game, it's that it can feel "over coached." The coaches are the personality in the college game, and I get that. But once the ball is tipped, I'd like to see the players take center stage. I'd like to see more action and fewer timeouts. I’d like to see less micromanagement and more execution. In short, I’d like the action to be between the lines more than on the sidelines.
You might think that’s out of line. I’d only note that in the early days of college basketball, the rules of the game were that no coaching from the sidelines was allowed at all. The first offense carried a warning, and the second earned a free throw for the other team. Maybe that was a bit extreme. Maybe that’s why the rule went away in 1911.
Just my preference. But it influences the changes I think could bring the most effective changes to college basketball. You want to give the game a shot in the arm, here are the five things I think should be done:
1). PLAY FOUR QUARTERS. Why the college men's game hasn’t adopted the same game structure as high school basketball, FIBA, women’s basketball and the NBA is a mystery. The men’s college game has developed a stupid rhythm of four TV timeouts a half. Going to four quarters with one TV timeout midway through each would create more natural breaks.
Quarters also speed the pace of the game. You don’t shoot free throws until the fifth foul of the quarter. The team foul count resets in the second quarter. This eliminates endless processions to the free throw line.
It does change the strategy of the game. It creates more set-pieces at the end of quarters. But it has made the women’s game more fun to watch. It could do the same for the men’s game.
2). LIMIT TIMEOUTS. Give teams one 30-second timeout per quarter plus a full timeout in the game’s final two minutes. Limit the strategic value of timeouts. Let the action play out. Let teams fight through runs.
Maybe one of those 30-second timeouts could be banked. The main thing is to cut back called timeouts. With the built in media timeouts available already, there are enough breaks.
3). ALLOW THREE FOULS PER HALF, PER PLAYER. This doesn’t necessarily mean a player gets six fouls per game. Some will. But it would make coaches less reluctant to pull players with two early fouls, because if they do pick up a third in the first half, they would sit for the rest of the half, but can return for the second.
It’s also a way to increase chances for players to stay on the court while serving to still address physical play. If you get only three fouls in the second half, you’re going to have to be careful.
Again, you can play with this rule. But it’s an interesting thought.
4). ESTABLISH A DEFENSIVE THREE-SECOND RULE. I know, this limits zone defenses. But if you want to create freedom of movement and clean out the lane, you can’t just let the defense camp in there.
Under the defensive three-second rule, once the ball crosses half court, a defensive player can’t spend more than three seconds in the free-throw lane without actively guarding a player.
You can’t just plant in there in an effort to draw charges. It becomes more difficult to slide over if the offensive spacing is right. It puts more of a premium on man-to-man defense, but it still allows for help defense and switching if you’re quick enough.
Maybe it would make for fewer block-charge situations. If it did that, it would’ve been more than worth it.
5). ADD A FOURTH OFFICIAL, WHO WORKS VIA VIDEO. He reviews calls. He can overturn calls from the sideline. He can make calls from the sideline, but can’t assess fouls except in the final minute of the game. He can correct errors in scoring at any time. His ability to review plays is limited to full-speed replays and he gets two looks from each available angle.
Anyway, those are my changes. What you don’t find on this list is the ability to advance the ball by calling timeout at the end of a game. Getting the ball up the court against pressure is part of the game. I hope it remains.
Nor do I think the shot clock needs to be shortened. I think going to quarters will solve any issues with pace of games.
So what have I gotten wrong, or left out? What changes do you suggest? Feel free to reply by email, in the comments below or via social media.
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