The NCAA announced proposed changes Friday to men's basketball rules as given by the sport's rules committee that will impact the way the game looks and the way viewers experience the game.
The committee's intent was to focus on improving pace of play, game flow, and to reduce physicality.
At first glance, the impact on BYU basketball should be fairly minimal, which I will address. But here are the proposed changes, which will be voted on by the oversight committee on June 8:
Larger restricted area
The restricted area arc by the basket is currently three feet out from the rim. This proposal is to enlarge that area to four feet from the rim to reduce block/charge/collision situations.
The NCAA reports that in the 2013 and 2015 NIT postseason tournaments, which used the four-foot arc on an experimental basis, the number of block/charge situations at the basket fell from 2.77 per game to 1.96.
This should be a positive impact on the game. College referees have been horrible at recognizing when defenders improperly move in front of already-airborne offensive players and almost universally grant charging fouls if a defender is not in the restricted area. Increasing the restricted area should improve the accuracy of these decisions and hopefully get defenders to try and play real defense.
The proposals also call for a stricter enforcement of defensive rules. While this could theoretically improve offensive game flow, it could also give refs more ammo to make ridiculous ticky-tack calls -- and that helps nobody.
30-second shot clock
The long-awaited reduction of the shot clock is now on the table for a vote, and is almost assuredly going to pass. Whether or not this is a misguided attempt to improve the game's pace, I still like it.
The impact on BYU should be minimal. The Cougars play the fastest brand of basketball in the nation. The only impact might be on teams who try to take the air out of the ball and minimize BYU's possessions -- this will mitigate that to a small degree.
Timeout reductions and changes
The committee proposed to reduce the amount of team timeouts from five to four, while allowing no more than three timeouts to be carried over into the second half.
College basketball suffers from over-coached syndrome sometimes, but Dave Rose rarely over-coaches and lets his players play, so this should have little impact.
Additionally, a proposed rule would eliminate the subsequent media timeout if a team timeout is used within 30 seconds prior to a media timeout or any time after the scheduled media timeout. In other words, if a coach calls a timeout with 4:30 left in the first half or any time after, the under-4:00 media timeout would be skipped.
That is fantastic news for viewers of college basketball. The experience both in the arena and at home will be much improved. Basketball games should not last more than two hours, and this should help.
There is also a proposal to disallow coaches the ability to call timeouts during live-ball situations. The first reaction would be this mean coaches can't help their players keep possession in loose-ball scrums, for example. But the real target is something else: this should mean a coach cannot call a timeout after his/her own team's made basket. This has been a plague to the flow of college basketball, so if it results in the elimination of such timeouts, we'll all be better for it.
The final proposal is to strictly enforce existing rules governing how quickly teams return to the court after timeouts and reducing how long coaches have to replace disqualified players.
10-second backcourt violation
The committee proposed to make the 10-second backcourt violation (having to advance the ball past halfcourt in less than 10 seconds) mean a total of 10 seconds. Currently, a team can call timeout and its 10-second count would start over.
The impact to BYU should be minimal. BYU rarely puts on full-court presses and rarely faces them either.
Eliminating 5-second closely-guarded rule
The current rule awards possession of the ball to the defending team if a defender can remain closely guarding an offensive ball-handler for five consecutive seconds and if the offensive player is not able to advance meaningfully toward the basket. (That's a paraphrase of a rule that is likely worded much more complexly in the rulebook.)
This proposal eliminates that rule. At first, I don't like eliminating rules that reward good defense. But, the reduction of the shot clock almost makes this rule unnecessary. I also like it because it should (hopefully) improve referee accuracy for other rules. Instead of constantly worrying about keeping a five-count, refs can just watch and officiate more important rules.
Again, BYU does not play a brand of pressure defense this would affect, and moves so quickly on offense that this should have minimal impact on the Cougars.
Allow review of made field goals on expired shot clock situations
This would allow referees to conduct video reviews any time a shot is made when the shot clock expires to make sure the shot was released prior to the expiration of the clock. This would be allowed at any/all times of the game.
Flopping on video review
This proposes that if a player is found to be faking a foul (flopping) when refs are reviewing video regarding a flagrant foul, that player/team can be penalized. The penalty for this was not spelled out, but it seems likely it would be a Class-B Technical Foul. Speaking of that:
Class-B Technical Fouls result in 1 shot
Currently, all technical fouls result in two free throws for the other team. This rule would make the class-B variety, like hanging on the rim or delaying the game, a one-shot technical.
If Brandon Davies were still on the team, this would help BYU because refs really loved to (stupidly) target him for hanging on the rim.
Add 1 foul per player (experimental)
The rules committee approved adding one personal foul per player (fouling out at six fouls, not five) on an experimental basis for interested postseason tournaments. The 2015 NIT implemented the experimental 30-second shot clock and the four-foot restricted area, so for example, the 2016 NIT will likely experiment with six player fouls based on this approval.
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Overall, I'm not convinced any of these rules benefit or affect BYU in any meaningful way, unless the emphasis on defensive rules and game flow mean the BYU offense can flow more freely and doesn't just result in more whistles for the entire season.
As fans, though, we should benefit greatly from the changes as the game becomes more enjoyable to watch with less timeouts and more possessions.