news 5 days ago

Rules chiefs gamble that replay, longer 3-point line will increase college basketball appeal

Sporting News — (Mike DeCourcy)

NEW YORK — On the majority of occasions when a college basketball game is long-since decided, the team with the substantial lead will wind up in possession of the basketball and simply dribble it in place until the final buzzer sounds. Such games will appear no different to fans in the 2019-20 season.

In those instances, however, where one team or the other chooses to attempt a field goal that has nothing to do with the result — but everything to do with the final score — attention will be paid. Officials now will be instructed to ascertain the “true score” of each game, one of many new regulations and directives adopted by the NCAA men’s basketball rules committee for the coming season.

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Even a buzzer-beating shot in a blowout game now will be viewed on the replay monitor to determine whether it should count. If a player is fouled at the buzzer and the game is out of hand, the player will shoot whatever free throws are awarded.

When the new rules were presented to game officials who will work Division I basketball games this season, there was no mention of the utility of this particular procedure. If the final score is 83-65, what does it matter whether that last heave was released before the buzzer? It doesn't, at least not to the result. But it might to someone who bet on the favorite while giving 19 points.

DraftKings and FanDuel and all the other legal sports gambling venues across the nation are going to love this.

The changes drew the most attention when the rules committee met in the spring were those that will impact how the game is played. But the one that made the loudest statement about sports in the 21st century is the one that will assure that each final score is entirely accurate.

“I think it’s cheesy, but I get it,” one veteran national analyst told Sporting News. “As long as sports betting is legal in so many places, I understand why they’re doing it. Things are changing.”

The other key rules changes for 2019-20 are more oriented toward the competition:

MORE: 3-point line moving back to international distance

— Moving the 3-point line to 22 feet, 1¾ inches from its prior distance of 20 feet, 9 inches. The change in the distance means the arc leaves less room in the corners, which was a periodic problem for players in NIT games that served as an experimental venue. They frequently stepped over the sideline when moving backward into their jumpshots while trying to remain behind the 3-point line.

The last time the line moved, in 2008-09, accuracy on 3-point shots declined from 35.2 percent to 34.4 percent. Last season, after a decade of Division I employing that distance on 3-pointers, accuracy was at 34.5.

— Emphasizing the elimination of flopping. Instead of the imperious “get up” gesture an official was free to present in the past — which acknowledged the ref wasn’t buying a player’s attempt to draw a charge but carried no penalty — refs now have a call that might help eliminate that scourge from the game.

If an official sees what they consider a flop, they can blow the whistle and then signal by extending both arms forward from the shoulder. That indicates the player has faked a play designed to draw an incorrect call favoring his team. It could be an attempt to draw a charge, a leg-kick on a 3-point attempt meant to draw a shooting foul or possibly a head snap by a ball carrier when he moves past a defender.

The first such call is a warning for delay of game. The second against that team -- any delay, in any category including another flop -- is a technical foul.

— Using replay review on goaltending/basket interference. In the final 2 minutes, officials now can use replay to determine whether a goaltending or basket interference call was correct. Interestingly, they are not allowed to review whether such a call was missed; remember, it was a missed basket interference call on a bucket by LSU in their road game against Kentucky that generated conversation about using replay to address this circumstance. That play would not have been reviewable under the new rule because no whistle was blown.

— Permitting coaches again to call live-ball timeouts, so long as it is within the last two minutes of regulation play or overtime. In surveys regarding the rules, coaches had expressed frustration with being unable to call strategic timeouts in late-game situations. So the rules committee agreed to allow them to do so late in games. Previously, only players on the floor could signal for the stoppage.

— Going to media timeout on any instant replay review initiated within 30 seconds of a planned media stoppage. Instead of spending time on a review, resuming play and then soon afterward going to a commercial, the networks will go to break — and teams will go to their benches — while the refs head to the monitor.

— Resetting the shot clock to 20 (instead of 30) on an offensive rebound. To increase the number of possessions in a game, the rules committee decided to follow other leagues by shortening the cycle for an offensive team that regains the ball after one of its field goal attempts hits the rim.

This reduces the punishment to the defensive team for failing to grab the rebound — but the people in charge of the game are betting this will lead to more action and excitement.