Examining the Latest College Basketball Rule Changes

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Ben Goren (@BenG412) and Jason Dorow (@jasondorow) are back to walk you through some new rule changes in men’s and women’s college basketball

Ben Goren: Normally, Drizzy and Goren is reserved for podcasts, but since you’re working up in Wausau, Wisconsin, or as Dante referred to it, “Circle 4,” Jason, we have to take this to the printed word.

The NCAA is in the news this week and GUESS WHAT? IT’S NOT BAD NEWS! Yes, the NCAA has tweaked the rules of the men’s and women’s basketball games.  The men’s game is seeing the shot clock change to 30 seconds, an expansion of the restricted area under the basket, and, most importantly, players will be allowed to dunk in pregame and halftime warmups whenever they want.  Some other changes have been made too.

For the women, there are maybe more significant changes.  Instead of 2 halves, there will be 4 quarters of 10 minutes each, bringing with it new timeout rules and new foul rules (RIP one-and-one, hello NBA 5 foul bonus rules).  Defenders will be allowed to use arm bars while defending in the post, and bands/recorded music will be allowed to play at any dead ball instead of just on timeouts (NUMB Alums rejoice).  What changes are a big deal to you, Jason?

Jason Dorow: The shot clock is obviously the change that the world had been waiting for, and while I’m happy to see the fix, I don’t see a huge effect on the game coming with it. There were minor effects to scoring and pace when the NIT tested out, speeding up the game slightly, but mostly I’m glad we don’t have to watch a team hold the rock for 35 ticks at the end of a game anymore.

The timeout re-configuration is probably more significant. Coaches cannot call live-ball timeouts anymore in the men’s game, and they are only allowed to take 3 TOs to the second half (instead of 4). Plus, more called timeouts will become media timeouts. The game should run much more smoothly with these adjustments, except for the fact that we are getting even more official reviews.

BG: I don’t think the shot clock change will matter all that much, to be honest.  For teams like Wisconsin and Virginia, their tempo will be forced to change from “glacial” to “molasses in summer.”  For NU, it means a Tre Demps iso will start 25 seconds into a possession rather than 30.  If Johnnie Vassar was still here I’d be really amped to see him dunk whenever he wants, but to me the best rule change is the expansion of the restricted area.  In the tiny sample size that was the men’s NIT, the expanded restricted area decreased the number of charge/block calls by nearly .8 calls per game.  That’s significant, and it’s going to make defenders rotate faster to cut off penetration.  Plus it probably means less Grayson Allen taking charges.  That’s always a plus.

For the women’s game, I’m excited to see these new rules about interior defense.  According to the NCAA, “The panel approved a new rule that allows defenders to place a forearm or an open hand with a bend in the elbow on an offensive post player with the ball whose back is to the basket.”  Thank God.  Sooooo many times in college basketball we see ticky-tack fouls called on defenders in the post, when offensive players are allowed to bang as much as they want.  In the old rules, just putting your hand on your man in the wrong way was an instant foul.  Changing that will make the game easier to watch and, selfishly, it means less foul trouble for Nia Coffey.  Double plus.

JD: Initially it was tough to watch games two years ago when the NCAA changes hand-checking and arm bar rules for the men’s game, but eventually I’ve accepted it. What’s funny is I think that the biggest change that comes with these new interior defense rules is less flopping. Last season we saw post defenders stick out their chest and take unwarranted charges all the time because they couldn’t lay a finger on the player posting up. Still, I’m not a fan of the arm bar. The college game is rough enough without defenders throwing forearms into opponents’ midsections.

One thing we are really overlooking for the women’s game is that they can advance the ball with a timeout in the final minute of the fourth quarter now. Of course, this will makes games more exciting, but it also means coaches will hang on to all their timeouts for the final 60 seconds. Isn’t that exactly what everyone wants to prevent? And does it make any sense? I hate that the NCAA is glorifying the conclusion of college basketball games. We can only review most plays in the last couple minutes. Teams can only advance the ball in the final minute. And people wonder why we have controversial finishes all the time. There has to be more consistency. If I had the reigns, the only thing we’d review is flagrant/technical fouls and buzzer beaters (whether it be shot clock or end of period), and those reviews would be in effect for the entirety of the game.

BG: SPEAKING OF DUMB REVIEWS WE HAVE A NEW RULE ABOUT THAT TOO!  So now, for the men’s game, when at the monitor trying to asses whether a technical should be given, you are allowed to look if someone “faked a foul,” or as regular people say it, “flopped.”  Part of me wants to like this rule because plays like this make me angry.


But most of me hates it. One, either be able to go to the monitor whenever, or never.  99% of flops aren’t on plays that get reviewed for technical fouls.  Two, “flopping” can be hard to pin down.  When D’Angelo Russell springs back like he got shot, yeah, it’s a flop, but when Alex Olah establishes position and takes a charge against a guard who shouldn’t be able to knock him off balance, let alone knock him down, isn’t that technically flopping too?  I can envision refs staring into a monitor for 10 minutes trying to get a flop call right.

I’m not sure if calling it “dumb” is fair, but for the women’s game I cannot for the life of me understand why it’s moving to a four quarter game.  What was wrong with the old system?  How many people were really thinking during a women’s game last year “boy, I sure wish there were four periods instead of two?”  Anyone?  It screams “change for change’s sake.”  With that change brings with it the end of the “one-and-one” bonus that college basketball uses and I love.  I really do like watching teams choke away games by missing front-ends of their bonus foul shots and allowing teams back in the game.  Maybe with the new NBA-esque foul rules, we’ll see Hack-A-Shaq in the women’s game.  That would make up for it.  Until then, I’m just scratching my head wondering why they’d fix a system that ain’t broke.

JD: Although I also like the one-and-one bonus system, I actually love the move to four quarters. How many times have we seen a college basketball game – men’s or women’s – hit the bonus just 7 or 8 minutes into a half? Too many. And then, we spend more time watching teams shoot free throws than seeing some actual ball. The argument that four quarters improves the flow of the game is legit.

The ability to review flopping is silly to me too. It’s just another delay in play for a call that should be pretty discernable in real time. The final things that I wanted to note were the elimination of defensive five seconds in the men’s game, the lifting of the pre-game dunking restriction and the amplified music leeway.

1. There’s enough noise during a basketball game. We don’t need the band playing every time a ball is deflected out of bounds (sorry NUMB). 2. YAY MORE DUNKS!!! Before, you had to show up at least 20 minutes before tip to watch these dudes rock the rim (and there’s like zero NU students willing to do that.) Now, maybe the student section will file in before the game starts rather than 10 minutes into the contest. And 3. How are they just sliding by with eliminating defensive five seconds? It prevents teams from holding the ball, serves as an incentive for tight defense and is one of the most exciting moments in basketball to be honest.

If there is anything you should take from these rule changes, it’s that the NCAA wants to be the NBA, as if we needed another reason for these athletes to be treated more like professionals.

BG: As long as continuation never makes its way into the college game.

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