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NCAA Basketball proposed rule changes intent on speeding up the game

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Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this month, the NCAA Men's Basketball Rules Committee proposed several changes in an effort to improve the game.  There was a lot of criticism this season about the continued decline of scoring, the slower pace of college basketball and borderline unwatchable games for the casual fan.  This article in March from Sports Illustrated outlined some suggestions and included this quote from Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany: "We’ve got to find ways to expedite the last few minutes," he says. "The games are slowing down to the point where the only people who are going to watch are diehard fans of those two teams."

The official NCAA march madness twitter handle tweeted out the list of proposals ten days ago:

This helps address what Delany said directly and it makes sense.  The reduction of one timeout per team and the elimination of TV timeouts if a coach calls one within 30 seconds of it being scheduled is a good change to help improve game flow.  The focus on resuming play faster after timeouts and when a player fouls out is positive but the difference will only be incremental.

From the NCAA press release: Although the reduction in the shot clock to help increase scoring seemed to be the most discussed topic, the increase in the physicality of play has been a major concern for coaches. The NCAA rules committee has addressed that this week with an emphasis on perimeter defense and post play," said Ron Hunter, president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches and men’s basketball coach at Georgia State University.

The idea behind this change is to open up the lane more and reduce defenders bogging down the rim area.  The NCAA adopted the 3 foot arc in 2011 which is one foot less than the NBA.  From the SI article above: "That thing is like a bee bee on a four-lane highway. It’s a joke," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo says. "That’s the NCAA and our coaches saying we are not going to be the NBA. I look at it as, the NBA plays a hundred games a year. Let’s learn from them."

Men's College Basketball has always had the longest shot clock in the game of basketball.  It wasn't until the 1985-1986 season that college basketball introduced the shot clock at 45 seconds.   It was then reduced to 35 seconds in the 1993-1994 season.  Meanwhile the NBA has had their shot clock at 24 seconds since the 1950's.  FIBA also adopted a 30 second shot clock in 1956 and reduced it to 24 seconds in 2000. Moving to 30 seconds will increase offensive possessions for each team.  From the SI article above: "Why wouldn’t we go to 30? That’s a better question," asks Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. "We didn’t go to 30 in the first place because the women had it. People wanted to be different. It’s not hard to figure out. A shorter clock means more possessions, and more possessions means more points."

The change to add more possessions per team doesn't guarantee a significant amount of increased scoring.  Shot selection is key and a concern would be teams losing 5 seconds to run their offense could potentially force more bad shots.  What I like about this change is the effect it will have on team defense.  Coaches will be more inclined to press full court and 3/4 court to slow down the other team from starting their half court offense.  Also teams have 5 seconds less to defend per possession so coaches will be more willing to stretch their defense and exert more effort per possession.

This is another effort to improve the flow of the game. While I don't have an issue with the backcourt timer not resetting after a timeout, I do disagree with coaches not being able to call a timeout during live action.  In reality coaches can ask their players to call the timeout, but doing so during game action doesn't mean it will always be heard.  I like the committee proposing to eliminate the number of timeouts, but not preventing coaches from calling the ones they have.

These proposed changes are an obvious intent to encourage dunking, making the game more entertaining.  Only old school purists would be against this change.  A dunk is a shot like anything else and I never agreed with not being allowed to practice it while warming up for a game.

Overall, I like the changes proposed and think something needed to be done to improve the quality of college basketball games.  As for the impact this potentially has for Rutgers, it falls right into how Eddie Jordan wants to play.  He has recruited athletic players with length to play a pressing style on defense and push the fast break on offense.  This season he finally has a full squad of his players to play this style, so its a perfect time for these rule changes.  Regardless, this team must improve its offensive efficiency to properly take advantage of more possessions and give themselves the opportunity to set up their press on defense.  More to come after June 8th once the proposals are officially voted on.