Last month, the NCAA Men's Basketball rules committee proposed a series of changes for the upcoming 2015-2016 season. These proposals were made in large part to improve the flow of the game, increase scoring and make the game more entertaining for the casual fan. Today it became official, as the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved all of the rule changes proposed.
OFFICIAL! 30-sec shot clock, 4-foot arc, reduction in time outs among changes coming to men's basketball next season. pic.twitter.com/qgLqt0BS6D— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) June 8, 2015
The reduction of the shot clock from 35 seconds to 30 seconds will increase possessions in the game, thus potentially leading to an increase in scoring. However, this means for scoring to increase teams will have to be more efficient in their half court offense. Less time per possession could lead to more bad shots. As I wrote last month, this gives teams that like to press an incentive to apply full court pressure more often, making it harder for the opponent to set up their offense in the half court. For Rutgers, this falls right into how Eddie Jordan wants his team play. He has assembled an athletic and guard heavy lineup that can exert pressure up and down the court. They pressed at times last season and were successful for stretches. With the hope this roster is better equipped to press more often, now the change in rules give them even more reason to do so.
In terms of improving game flow, timeouts have been reduced from five to four, with the limit allowed to carry over to the 2nd half limited to three. In addition, coaches can no longer call timeouts during live action. They can still communicate through a player to call a timeout, but the intention is players are less likely to call one on their own. Also the 10 second backcourt clock will no longer reset after a timeout. Jon Rothstein of CBS sports was vocal in support of the reduction in timeouts.
Love the reduction in timeouts. Will be tremendous for the sport. https://t.co/K8I5795Rb3— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) June 8, 2015
On the defensive end, the restricted area under the rim has now been extended from three feet to four feet. This will create more space in the lane for offensive players to drive to the rim. This is also meant to reduce collisions at the rim. In addition, the referees have been given a mandate in an effort to improve offensive flow. From the official NCAA press release:
The key areas officials will focus on in the upcoming season are:
• Perimeter defense, particularly on the dribbler and strictly enforcing directives established before the 2013-14 season.
• Physicality in post play.
• Screening, particularly moving screens and requiring the screener to be stationary.
• Block/charge plays.
• Allowing greater freedom of movement for players without the ball.
If the referees actually call more fouls regarding hand checks, bumps, and holds, this will have a short term negative effect on speeding up the game and improving flow. The hope is over time it will positively change the way defense is played, allowing an offensive player more space and freedom to move in the half court offense. For me this aspect, which actually isn't a rule change, will be the most interesting to watch for next season. And it could actually have a greater impact on scoring increasing than the shortened shot clock.
Jerry Carino asked former Rutgers coach Bob Wenzel on his thoughts on the new rule changes. Wenzel thinks the elimination of the five second rule on closely guarded dribblers will have a major impact. "Now one player can handle the ball for the entire 29 seconds and nobody else has to touch it," said Wenzel, the former Rutgers coach who serves as an analyst for several networks. "So if you've got a really good ball-handler, you have him handle the ball and get the other guys to set some intricate screens." Cue Corey Sanders!
With creating more space for players to move on offense, the NCAA also made some adjustments to encourage dunking. They eliminated the ban on dunking in pregame warmups and reduced the technical for hanging on the rim from two foul shots to one. The players will love the opportunity to dunk in pregame when warming up. This could help teams play looser and more aggressively at the start of games, especially with the new four foot arc to open more space to the rim.
One notable change in the women's game was switching from two 20 minute halves to four 10 minute quarters. Could that be a change in the future for men's game as well? Not necessarily. However, the women's game has played with a 30 second shot clock for years.
Overall I think change was needed and credit the NCAA for acting in a timely and efficient manner. That isn't something we say everyday. As for Rutgers, these new rules are conducive to Eddie Jordan's preferred style of play. Teams that are loaded with great athletes and play fast and aggressive will benefit. The Wisconsin's of the world, who play slow and look to pound you inside on both ends of the floor, will not. This is a good thing for Rutgers, as they will need every advantage possible heading into next season.
UPDATE: Read coach Eddie Jordan's thoughts on the rule changes here. Jordan said, "As a team, we'll adjust to the rules, just like everyone else. With our new guards we'll be able to get the ball up the court quick enough. With our full court pressure defense maybe we'll turn the ball over more."