College basketball’s journey to its climactic March Madness ending begins in earnest this week with the season’s first games.
And only time will tell how new rules changes will impact the game.
A consensus has emerged that a shorter shot clock and new mandates to enhance freedom of movement won’t cause a significant change.
That’s not to say the new rules won’t translate into more possessions for the better team on the floor. But will it reach its designers’ intention to increase scoring? Perhaps.
30 Seconds for the new shot clock for men’s basketball in 2015-16, down from 35
“When you look at basketball in general, in the NBA with a 24-second clock, at the end of the year — in playoff, championship-caliber basketball — good teams, good players don’t let you run,” said TCU coach Trent Johnson. “So the scores still go down.”
Johnson added that the shorter shot clock will “speed up our game just a little bit.”
The 30-second clock received most of the headlines this summer, though it’s only one of a number of new rules for 2015-16.
We’ll go to Texas and get mauled; the officials will swallow their whistles. Then we’ll play a smaller school and try to be strong and physical, and they’ll call everything.
UTA coach Scott Cross
Others, most of which deal with pace of play, include the following:
▪ Another attempt to tighten up hand-checking regulations. The new rule was originally laid out two years ago and lasted about half the season before the game went back to its former self.
▪ Reducing physicality in post play.
▪ Better regulations of moving screens.
▪ Allowing a total of 10 seconds to advance the ball into the frontcourt. Timeouts no longer result in another full 10 seconds.
▪ Removing the ability of a coach to call timeouts when the ball is live.
▪ Reducing the amount of time allotted to replace a fouled-out player from 20 to 15 seconds.
▪ Teams will also have one fewer team timeout in the second half — only three will carry over instead of four.
If officials are stricter on hand-checking and physicality on the blocks and away from the ball, it could lengthen games if more fouls are called and result in more free throws.
But how those renewed directives affect the game will come down to the touchy subject of the interpretation of referees — something that’s as old as sport itself.
It’s also why the NCAA renewed the same rule made in 2013 to crack down on hand-checking. Officials did for a while and then relaxed. It’s hard to imagine the same thing happening with post play and interpreting the term “stationary.”
More calls, however, will likely result in more zone defenses to protect players from foul trouble.
“It’s tough for schools like us,” said UT Arlington coach Scott Cross. “We’ll go to Texas and get mauled; the officials will swallow their whistles. Then we’ll play a smaller school and try to be strong and physical, and they’ll call everything.
“It’s a bit of a challenge for our guys, but you have to adjust to how the game is called. The team that does that best will be successful.”
TCU’s Johnson agreed, though he said the biggest change might be the most subtle — the substitution rule for players who foul out.
“There’s a teaching point right there,” Johnson said. “That’s an adjustment for players and coaches. Those kinds of things we’ve spent some time on.”
Most everybody agrees that the 30-second shot clock will have little effect on the outcomes of games. It’s not a revolutionary change, such as the implementation of the 3-point shot more than 25 years ago.
But it could at times change the way some teams play. For example: Instead of resetting an offense off a pass out of the block, a team might go to more isolation because of the fewer seconds.
“It won’t change the game that much,” said former TCU coach Moe Iba. “It might to a point. But if you have better players, it doesn’t matter if you have a clock or not.”