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College basketball's rule changes to give players greater freedom of movement helped perimeter players in 2013-14. Now, those tasked with future rule changes are looking at potential measures to assist movement for post players -- along with a host of other topics.
At a roundtable discussion with a group of news reporters Monday, men's basketball rules committee chairman Rick Byrd and men's basketball secretary-rules editor Art Hyland outlined areas they expect the committee to discuss in May.
Some are bigger-picture items, such as improving freedom of movement for post players (widening the lane) and cutters without the ball. Others are more specific, from reducing the number of timeouts a coach can call to shortening the shot clock to 30 seconds to not counting baskets on a charge. (Currently, if an offensive player releases the shot before contact, the basket counts, despite the foul on the offensive player.)
Hyland also mentioned the possibility of limiting coaches' ability to call timeouts during live ball situations, as well as addressing ways to keep the game moving quickly. That includes limiting the delay of game that occurs after a player fouls out and limiting the amount of time a team has to bring the ball past midcourt to 10 seconds total (even if a timeout is called, it would not reset).
"We need to narrow down the topics this May so coaches can think about things all of next season," said Byrd, head coach at Belmont. "If anything is seriously under consideration, we'll at least know all year."
Byrd added he and the rest of the rules committee did not expect unanimous support from coaches on some of these topics, particularly the ones involving coaches and their timeouts. "Modern coaches want control over everything they can have control over," he said. "You're not going to get a whole lot of agreement with coaches with officiating."
Those tasked with discussing and ultimately tweaking aspects of change also want to look at offensive players initiating contact with defenders and getting the call -- "we can't call fouls that don't exist," Hyland said -- because it has become increasingly difficult for coaches to teach post players how to defend.
As Hyland and others stressed repeatedly Monday, the rules committee will consider whatever it thinks is best for the sport. That's why the committee adopted 24 changes last year and stressed freedom of movement along the perimeter. By calling fouls for hand-checking and arm bars, defensive players eventually adapted and gave guards more space on the court. That, plus a tweak to the block/charge call that helped offensive players.
The rule changes were made to open the floor for offensive players after scoring had declined and the game had been overrun by physicality. According to the NCAA, scoring is up 4.6% from last season, and not all of that is from free throws (though there have been more attempted). Field goal percentage is up two points in the NCAA tournament.
"It feels to me like we're on a path to a better game," said John Adams, NCAA national coordinator of officials. "There's a level of predictability we can live with when stepping onto the court."