NCAA approves several rule changes to men's basketball in an effort to make the game faster, sleeker and more competitive. We look at these changes and analyse their implications.
NCAA Men's College Basketball Rule Changes
The introduction of rule changes in men's college basketball this week ushers in a whole slew of amendments to the game that will affect how it is played in the coming 2015 season. Amongst some of the changes, the most prominent are shortening the shot clock to 30 seconds (five seconds were shaved off), reducing time outs (from five to four) and timeout protocols, and increasing the restricted arc from three feet to four feet.
Although these changes appear small on paper, on court they are sure to have a vast impact on the game and far reaching consequences on the coming season. We look at three key impacts on the game below.
1. Higher Scoring and More Offense
Five seconds may not seem like much but it's somewhat significant in the scope of the game. The primary intention is to increase possessions, thereby increasing scoring opportunities for each team. This change is a direct response to steadily declining scoring numbers in recent seasons. At the end of last season average scoring was calculated to 67.1 points per game, marking a drop from 71 points on average in the previous season.
The rule presupposes that these declining numbers are a direct result of the old rules. That's yet undetermined. In a perfect world, a reduced shot clock is supposed to increase the possession and scoring opportunities each team enjoys. The upshot of which is that we should see (so they hope) higher scoring games in the 2015-2016 season, which will be something total bettors will need to spot. It remains to be seen whether the lack of offense in college basketball is a predicament of the rules or simply the result of coaching strategies and the varying quality of players across the field.
Certainly, reducing the shot clock is going to force offenses to move at a faster clip, not to mention it's going to tax defenses as well. It'll take care of some of the time wasters that coddle the ball for an eternity, only to wind down the clock. And it will improve the viewers experience both in the stands and on the other side of the screen.
What it won't guarantee is the quality of offense. Speeding up the clock doesn't make offense better. That's down to talent, skill and depth of each and every team. Worst case scenario, it could make it worse as players will be under pressure to shoot the ball. It's quite likely we're going to see more than our fair share of duds being thrown at the net, few of which will go in.
2. Thrilling Showdowns
On the upside, fewer timeouts are sure to improve the viewing experience. The constant start-stop-start-stop-start-stop-start-stop-start-stop of NCAA college basketball can be painful to watch at times, especially as the game winds down and coaches start to pull out timeouts from their pockets like loose change, dragging the last few minutes of a game for an eternity. As if people didn't have lives to get back to and all the time in the world to watch a 60-minute game go on for cricket-like hours.
NCAA have approved four timeouts in a game and, importantly, no more than three in the second half. They've also disallowed timeouts to be called within 30 seconds of TV timeouts
An indirect consequence of the fewer timeout rules is going to be on game management in closely contested matches. With fewer timeouts towards the end of the game, no timeouts within 30 seconds of TV timeouts and the ability to take live-ball timeouts gone, games should come to a more thrilling conclusion. Coaches won't be able to suck the life out of a game as they used to be able to and they won't be able to micro-manage on court proceedings to their liking (setting offenses and defenses as they like all while drawing up plays on paper). This puts the onus on the players on court rather than the coaches on the sidelines and as a result we're sure to see better what each team and player is really made of in clutch situations.
3. Free-flowing Games
Another aspect of the game as it was that is deemed to have been responsible for stifling the flow is the restricted area. Within its original narrow three-feet confines, way too many fouls were being committed as players charged and collided (sometimes senselessly). With the arc increased by another feet, getting outside the restricted area is going to be a tougher task; the upshot of which we should have fewer fouls committed as a result and, ergo, fewer stoppages interrupting the flow of the game.
So there you have it.