HUNTINGTON — Men’s college basketball is going to look different — and play different — starting next season. Marshall Coach Dan D’Antoni applauded the changes that were approved Monday.
The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel took what the Men’s Basketball Rules Committee aggressively proposed last month, bringing a renewed focus for officials on contact between players, and making significant rules changes.
The move that’s getting the most play is the shot clock time, which will be reduced from 35 to 30 seconds, changing a possession rule that had been in place for 22 seasons. There are other changes, like extending the restricted arc area under the basket from 3 to 4 feet, matching the NBA rule.
“Most people would want me to say the 30-second clock will have the most impact, but I think the best change is the 10-second rule to cross the midcourt line — and you don’t get a reset on the clock if the defense knocks the ball out of bounds,” D’Antoni said Tuesday. “That benefits the defense, and we want to press and get up, so I think that rule kind of falls in line with how I eventually see us playing.
“Another is the coach not being able to call timeout when the ball is live. We’ll have to train our players on that one. Again, that’s a help for the defense, especially pressing, attacking defenses. The players sometimes get involved in what they’re doing and the coach could save them, and now that’s not going to happen. It benefits a gambling, attacking defense.
“I think those two rules — more so than 30 seconds — will make a difference.”
The second-year Herd coach said the trimming of five seconds from the shot clock may not have as much impact as some expect, although he conceded it may affect more coaches than players.
“I’m not sure how many times the shot clock got down to 30 anyway,” D’Antoni said. “I know it didn’t happen to us very often. I don’t think a 30-second clock is going to put us out of our offense one way or another. It does allow the defense to concentrate for a little less time.
“The 30 also will encourage defenses to move up the floor. Say you can make an offense start at 22 seconds and then by the time they have to reset after getting the ball up, maybe it’s down to 17 or 18. In that case, you’re not going to see a lot of offenses making passes just to make passes, three or four that are meaningless, just kind of moving the ball to get to do what they really want to do, but it had no bearing on the play that was going to occur.
“I always wanted to see a 24- or 25-second shot clock, because I think it forces coaches to be better. A lot of people say, `Well, it’s just turning the game over, it’s a run-and-shoot game, no coaching involved.’ I see it the opposite way.
“I see there has to be more coaching because with a shorter clock. There are more possessions and you better be good at what you’re doing because you’re going to have to do it more often. It also has to be cleaner, more precise.
“I don’t think 24 seconds is a pass at all to say you don’t have time to do anything. You have time to run plenty of outstanding, clean possessions and it forces a coach to really hone in. You have to be really good at seeing the game and coaching the game.”
D’Antoni’s uptempo, push-the-pace system is all about spacing and cutters, and the stated emphasis on reducing physicality and enhancing freedom of movement is welcomed, as is the change to the 4-foot arc, which should decrease block/charge plays under the hoop.
“On moving out the arc, it’s more of an injury-type of thing that affects the game, the collisions inside,” D’Antoni said. “You can teach verticality to bigs, how to guard, how to use the arc to defend. To me, it’s more exciting because the play is in the air, not on the ground, and it forces blocked shots going up, using the verticality rule, instead of staying down drawing fouls. I think that has to help.
“The biggest thing that goes with that is the hand-checking. It’s all in how the officials manage the game. The 10-second rule change, the 30 clock, the timeout rule (one fewer in second half than previously), those are what they are. No judgment … easy to manage.
“The verticality rule and how officials manage the defense — what they allow teams to do with the arc or hand-checking on the perimeter, those are on the referees.”
D’Antoni pointed out that the desire of the rules makers — Marshall Associate Athletic Director and Chief of Staff Jeff O’Malley is one of 12 members of the Men’s Basketball Rules Committee — was to get more flow into the game and tilt some of the advantage back toward offense.
The per-team scoring average in games last season was 67.6 points, approaching historic lows for the sport. The last time it was significantly lower was in 1951-52 (63.3 points).
“They talked in changing the rules how they wanted more scoring, and a lot of that will come down to how the referees manage it — what is a foul and what isn’t,” D’Antoni said. “It’s how much movement they allow without contact … still knowing there will be contact in a good game. It’s just managing that contact in the right way, so there is a flow on offense.
“The NBA has done a great job in making sure the players are able to move and go in a fashion that creates exciting basketball. Hopefully with these changes, the referees get together, be consistent throughout the country on how they handle the arc and the hand checks and physical play.
“The changes are good, and they’re good for how we want to play. How the officials handle what’s been proposed will determine how much the speed of the game and the scoring in college basketball improves.”