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Rule Changes I’d Like to See in College Basketball

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The NCAA Rules Committee announced changes last month, and I’d like to see them go much further

Gonzaga v North Carolina Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The NCAA Basketball Rules Committee announced several changes that will take affect in the 2017-18 season, and in case you missed them I will list them below.

  • Extend the coach's box to 38 feet. The coach's box in previous years was 28 feet, but NCAA Men's Basketball Rules Committee members believe this will allow coaches to improve communication with their teams, especially when the teams are at the opposite end of the court. Author’s Note: I think this will also reduce technical fouls as coaches will use this change to go further on court to argue calls as well.
  • The panel also approved a rule permitting a reset of the shot clock to 20 seconds when the ball is inbounded in the frontcourt after a foul by the defense. If more than 20 seconds remains on the shot clock, the shot clock will not be reset.
  • Throw-in spots will occur from more consistent spots in the frontcourt when the offensive team retains possession after a non-shooting foul or other stoppages in the game. The location of all throw-ins in the frontcourt will be determined by an imaginary line drawn from the corner of the court to the intersection of the lane line and the free-throw line. If the stoppage of play is inside this area, the throw-in will occur on the end line 3 feet outside the lane line. If the stoppage occurs outside this area, the throw-in will be at the nearer sideline at the 28-foot mark. Deflections will continue to be put back in play at the nearest out-of-bounds spot. Throw-ins in the back court will continue to be at the nearest spot.
  • Referees can use the instant replay rule in the last two minutes of the second half or last two minutes of overtime to see if a secondary defender was in or outside the restricted-area arc but only when a call has been made. If the player is in the restricted area, a block will be called on the defender. If the secondary defender is in legal guarding position and outside the restricted area, a player-control foul will be called. The Big Ten and Mid-American conferences experimented with this rule last season.
  • A mandatory minimum of 0.3 seconds will be taken off the game clock when the ball is legally touched, and an official immediately blows his whistle.
  • A legal screen was redefined to require that the inside of the screener's feet be no wider than his shoulders.
  • The cylinder rule was adjusted to allow more freedom of movement for the offense. If a defensive player straddles an offensive player's leg in a way that prohibits him from making a normal basketball move — which now includes pivoting — contact that creates a common foul will be called on the defensive player. Author’s Note: I STRONGLY disagree with this ruling, but will expand upon that below.

Most of these changes were minor things that ultimately won’t affect the game all that much. I have been calling for a change to reset the shot clock after a defensive foul in a way similar to what the NBA does, and I’m glad the NCAA has finally addressed this issue.

However, I strongly disagree with the rule allowing for more freedom of movement for the offense. The freedom of movement rule has caused WAY too many fouls to be called in the last couple of years, and has quite frankly made it almost impossible to play defense in the paint. This also causes a disadvantage to players when they enter the NBA, as fouls are almost never called in the paint, so players coming out of the NCAA are not used to hard contact. It also makes the game unwatchable for fans, as nobody wants to see constant stoppages in play for minimal contact in the paint.

More changes I would like to see are:

  • Eliminate the alternating possession arrow, and have actual jump balls when a tie-up occurs. This would make the game much more interesting, and would also line up with the NBA rule. It seems that the college game is becoming more and more about preparing players for the NBA, so why not eliminate the alternating possession rule. The alternating possession also highly disadvantages a defensive player. Under the current rule, a player can cause a tie-up, but if the other team owns the possession arrow, the defensive player has no chance to get the ball back for his team without causing another tie-up. Eliminating the alternating possession and having a jump ball would be equally fair for both sides, and make more sense for the game.
  • Give players an extra foul when the game goes into overtime. If the game goes into overtime, let players have a sixth foul. Gameplanning is done for a 40 minute game, so when a game goes longer, players are at a disadvantage by having more minutes to play but not being allowed another foul. This would eliminate the issue of so many players being in foul trouble in the overtime period, and teams running out of players due to fouls. If a player has already fouled out with five fouls in regulation, he would not be granted the extra foul and would remain disqualified from the game. But this rule would allow players to be more aggressive in the overtime period and actually play to their full potential and do whatever it takes to win the game for their team if they know that they have one more foul to give before being disqualified.
  • Place a time limit on video reviews by referees. Reviews are a great thing when they can help to determine things that critically impact the game. But basketball games are already long enough without having several minute breaks every time refs go to the monitor for a review. Getting a call correct is great, but there are only so many camera angles to review, and eventually you have to just use your best judgment. Therefore, I propose setting a one minute maximum time limit on video reviews.

Do you all agree with my proposals? What rule changes would you like to see? Comment below!