College basketball is back, people. Can I get an amen?
The march to March is on, and the North Dakota State men’s basketball team has already started its conquest to reign on top of the Summit League once again.
Teams around the nation got their season underway last Friday, and with this new year comes some pretty significant changes to the way college basketball will look and be played.
The NCAA men’s basketball rules committee made over 30 rule changes during the offseason to “increase the pace of play, reduce the number of stoppages and provide better balance between offense and defense,” according to a press release by the rules committee.
Some of the modifications are insignificant formalities, while others might have a major impact on the way coaches will strategize their defenses or how the players will play the game.
The most noticeable change the average basketball fan might see is the shot clock being reduced from 35 seconds to 30 seconds. For a team like the Bison that has the tendency to slow the pace of the game on offense, it might only mean someone will have to make a play five seconds earlier than normal.
But the change might come into play more during the end of games, when the five-second reduction might create a possession or two that wouldn’t have existed last year. Teams might also be more willing to apply full-court pressure to use up some of the shot clock in the backcourt.
The other more noticeable change will probably have the most impact on the game, and it comes in the form of plenty of whistles. The NCAA sent out a mandate emphasizing a strict enforcement of hand checks and physicality to better facilitate an offensive player’s freedom of movement.
It should because the NCAA emphasized the same exact thing two years ago at the beginning of the 2013 season in an effort to gain consistency of the physicality and get more scoring. The emphasis worked in theory, especially for the first few weeks, but its implantation by the referees dropped significantly once conference play began.
However, this year garnered a mandate by the NCAA, which is much more than just the point of emphasis two years ago. Consistency from day one to the NCAA Tournament is expected now from the NCAA, and we’ll just have to see if the calls stick a few months down the road.
Timeouts were a big topic that the committee addressed with a few changes designed to keep the game moving. Anytime a 30-second timeout is called within 30 seconds of a media timeout, the timeout becomes a media timeout. Finally gone are the back-to-back timeouts that seemed so unnecessary.
Another welcomed change to the rules is the elimination of live-ball timeouts called by coaches. Only players can call them, which allows referees to focus on the players. It also takes away the ambiguity on situations of what happened first, the player in a corner threw the ball away or the coach on the opposite side of the court called for a timeout to another referee.
Also, a timeout does not reset the 10-second backcourt count, so a bad press-break from good defensive pressure can’t be bailed out by a timeout.
Finally, referees can penalize players for faking being fouled when the referees are at the monitor reviewing a flagrant foul. Soccer’s working hard to expunge embellishment out of their game. No need to even give it a chance to run rampant in college basketball.
These rule changes, along with the minor others not mentioned, might take some time for players, coaches, referees and fans to get used to, but all in all, if consistently enforced, they should mold better games for the future.
Oh, and players can dunk during pregame and halftime because why not.