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More Basketball Rule Changes On the Horizon?

Ronald Martinez

Actually this is an annual ritual where the NCAA basketball rules committee meets to discuss tweaking the rules. Last season that included a new emphasis on fouls with the hope of cleaning up the game. It did work, at least for most of the season, with usual slippage coming as the season wore on. At any rate, via Yahoo's Pat Forde, here are some of what is being chewed on by the committee for the next "rule-change cycle" which is slated for 2015.

And there is a long list of what may come next. Among the big items that will be placed on the agenda for discussion:

• Reducing the number of timeouts. Everyone agreed that one of the biggest detractions of the current game is the eternity it takes to end a close one. That is largely due to the number of timeouts granted to each team, both officially (five per team per game) and unofficially (coaches are given a minute to substitute when a player fouls out). Replay reviews are viewed as a necessary evil in the quest for the right calls, but they also add to the length of an endgame situation. Coaches cherish their control of the game and thus will be loath to surrender timeouts, but fans everywhere would embrace fewer stoppages in play – especially late in a game. The NCAA said it will begin tracking the length of games next year, as it does in football.

"Length is becoming a concern," said David Worlock, NCAA associate director of men's basketball.

• Widening the lane.

• An elimination of live-ball timeouts, or at least limiting those calls to players instead of coaches. This would be a move toward FIBA international rules, which allow no live-ball timeouts.

• Revisiting the 10-second backcourt rule, which currently allows a bailout for the offensive team if it calls timeout before passing midcourt.

• Reducing the shot clock to either 30 or 24 seconds. Brey said he is in favor, and there seems to be fairly wide support for a reduction of some kind – although there also is a concern about college hoops becoming an NBA copycat league. (Interestingly, Byrd said his Belmont team occasionally uses a 12-second shot clock in practice to force tempo and enhance conditioning.)

• An examination of the NBA's continuation rule, and whether it should be applied similarly in college. There was not much support in the meeting room for that idea.

• No scoring on a charge. Baskets off a charge are waved off in every level of basketball except college.

The two biggest issues here would be the shot clock and adjusting the number of timeouts or who can take them and when.

Concerning the timeouts, reducing them wouldn't be a huge deal for UNC and Roy Williams. It is well documented Williams doesn't use his timeouts even when people think he should. His modus operandi for his entire career is to pocket those for end of game situations. Even then, Williams is often content to let plays runs without calling a timeout. Williams is a huge exception. If you watch other games, you see most coaches call a timeout on every critical offensive possession in the final two minutes. This(and reviews) has caused games to take longer to finish because many coaches engage in a fair amount of hand holding during the crucial late minutes of games. It should be noted that the idea of advancing the ball to halfcourt after a timeout has not been broached and may that continue to be the case.

The shot clock reduction would again not be a huge deal for UNC since the Tar Heels play at a quicker tempo than about 300-plus teams in college basketball. Personally, if a reduction is going to occur, I would rather see it go to 30 seconds versus 24 mainly because I agree with the line of thought that going to 24 would feel like a move towards looking just like the NBA.

Resetting the 10 second count after a timeout is one of the worst rules in college basketball. It is a complete bail out of the offensive team and negates great defense. Changing that rule to prevent teams from avoiding the violation with a timeout would be a nice change.

In addition to these possible changes, addressing physical post play and an increased emphasis on allowing more freedom of movement(i.e. cutters) will also be considered