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Greg Johnson | | May 12, 2017

Men’s Basketball Rules Committee looks at future of the game

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules Committee discussed overarching issues regarding the future of the game during its annual meeting this week in Indianapolis.

While no major rules changes were proposed, the committee believes the changes made in the previous rules cycle have paid significant dividends in improving the quality of college men’s basketball.

“We continue to be pleased with the trajectory of the game,” said Keith Dambrot, chair of the committee and men’s basketball coach at Duquesne. “Without a doubt, the rules changes and officiating emphasis in previous seasons have been successful. We continue to build on this and look forward to continuing the trend.”

During its meetings, the committee reviewed data from recent seasons and met with the National Association of Basketball Coaches and the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee.

The groups agreed that changes made two seasons ago have improved the balance between offense and defense. Last season, Division I teams averaged 73.4 points per game compared with the 67.5 points scored in the 2012-13 season, an increase of 8.7 percent during that period. This year’s point total and field goal percentage (44.4 percent) are the highest since the 1994-95 season. Teams also averaged 70.3 possessions per game in the 2016-17 season compared with 65.8 two years ago. Divisions II and III schools showed similar statistics in the past two seasons.

As part of the new Division I governance structure, the Division I Men’s Basketball Competition Committee collaborated with the rules committee on several key items. The two groups began conducting a holistic review of potential significant rules changes, including a careful examination of any unintended consequences that could result if those rules were changed.

The rules committee also discussed possible long-term changes that would continue the positive momentum. Some of the items on the agenda included whether to widen the lane to 16 feet from the current 12 feet; whether the 3-point line should be moved farther back from its current 20 feet, 9 inches; and whether to use a modified foul structure to allow more personal fouls in certain situations. The committee will encourage conferences to experiment with these concepts next season. The committee also discussed using quarters instead of the current format with two halves, but it did not take any action.

2017-18 Rules Recommendations

The committee’s rules proposals must be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which is scheduled to discuss the men’s basketball rules recommendations June 13. The committee’s recommendations are:

  • Extend the coach’s box to 38 feet for the 2017-18 season. The coach’s box is now 28 feet. Committee members believe this will allow coaches to improve communication with their teams. “We believe this change will help our coaches, particularly when the ball is at the opposite end of the floor,” Dambrot said.
  • Reset the shot clock to 20 seconds when the ball is inbounded in the front court after a foul or other violation by the defense, such as a kicked ball. If more than 20 seconds remains on the shot clock, the shot clock will not be reset.
  • Make throw-in spots more consistent in the front court. The location of all throw-ins in the front court will be determined by the current rule, defined as an imaginary line 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 three feet outside the lane line. If the stoppage occurs outside this area, the throw-in will be at the nearest 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.
  • Allow referees to 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. 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 second be taken off the game clock when the ball is legally touched.
  • Redefine a legal screen to require that the inside of the screener’s feet be no wider than his shoulders.
  • Adjust the officiating guidance in relation to the cylinder rule. 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.
  • Approve the Southeastern Conference’s request to use a separate individual or individuals to collaborate with the on-court officials on all monitor reviews during their league games during the 2017-18 season. This collaboration will take place from a central location that is not at the game site.

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