The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel on Monday approved a package of proposals and areas of focus for officials in men’s basketball to improve the pace of play, better balance offense with defense and reduce the physicality in the sport.
The NCAA Men’s Basketball Committee made similar recommendations before the 2013-14 season, and it felt the changes improved the game. But after gaining some positive traction, the balance between offense and defense again tilted toward the defense last season. Scoring in Division I men’s basketball dipped to 67.6 points a game last season, which neared historic lows for the sport.
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.
Pace of play
With an eye on reducing inaction, the panel approved several proposals to improve the pace of play. The most significant is reducing the shot clock to 30 seconds. The shot clock was last reduced for the 1993-94 season when it went from 45 seconds to 35.
Teams will also have one fewer team timeout (only three can carry over instead of four) in the second half. Officials will focus more on resuming play quickly after a timeout and will issue a delay-of-game warning when a team does not comply and a one-shot technical foul on subsequent violations.
The rest of the package designed to improve the pace of play includes:
• Adjusting the media timeout procedures to allow a timeout called within 30 seconds of a break (at the 16:30 mark) or at any time after the scheduled media timeout becomes the media timeout.
• Removing the ability for a coach to call timeout when the ball is live.
• Allowing a total of only 10 seconds to advance the ball to the front court (with a few exceptions).
• Reducing the amount of time allotted to replace a disqualified player from 20 to 15 seconds.
The panel also approved the expansion of the restricted-area arc from 3 feet to 4 feet. This arc would be effective in 2015-16 for Division I and 2016-17 for Divisions II and III. Moving the arc a foot farther from the basket is part of a continued focus on reducing the number of collisions at the basket.
Games in the 2015 Postseason NIT were played with the 4-foot arc on an experimental basis.
When compared to the 2013 NIT, which had the same block/charge standards as the 2015 event (aside from the 4-foot arc), the number of block/charge plays decreased from 2.77 per game to 1.96 per game.
During the use of a video review to see if a possible flagrant foul occurred, the panel approved a rule that would allow officials to penalize players who fake fouls. The NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules Committee felt that players trying to draw fouls by deception is a growing issue.
Other proposals approved by the panel include:
• Allowing officials to use the monitor to review a potential shot clock violation on made field goals throughout the entire game.
• Making Class B technical fouls (hanging on the rim and delaying the resumption of play, for example) one-shot technical fouls. Previously, two shots were granted for these types of technical fouls.
• Eliminating the five-second closely guarded rule while dribbling the ball.
• Removing the prohibition on dunking in pregame warmups and at halftime.
The panel also approved an experimental rule to allow players six personal fouls, instead of five, in the 2016 postseason tournaments other than the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship.