There's 4:05 left in the second half when Mark Turgeon calls a full timeout to draw up a play to extend the Terrapins' 65-50 lead over the Wisconsin Badgers. New plugs Diamond Stone, Robert Carter Jr., Rasheed Sulaimon and Jaylen Brantley have all proven themselves, but the fans are hungry for more. The ball is inbounded, six seconds tick off the clock and on an entry pass from Melo Trimble to Jake Layman, the ball is swatted out of bounds. The horn blows for a media timeout. This is the second commercial break in the last six seconds.
The NCAA Rules Committee approved a package of proposals and officiating initiatives to improve the pace of play and eliminate such scenarios as laid out above. The committee's recommendations must be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which is set to review the changes June 8.
Although reducing the shot clock to 30 seconds seemed to be the most talked about issue at a committee summit in mid-May, the group said it needed to put an emphasis on the physicality of perimeter defense and post play, according to Georgia State head coach Ron Hunter.
According to a release from the NCAA, the key areas of focus for the committee this upcoming season are:
- Perimeter defense, particularly on the dribbler
- Physicality in post play
- Screening, particularly moving screens
- Block/charge plays
- Allowing greater freedom of movement for players without the ball.
The restricted area expansion rule
If passed, the restricted-area arc will expand from the current 3' to 4'. The NCAA instituted this rule in the 2015 NIT in order to experiment with player safety to see if increasing the arc would lessen collisions near the basket. The experiment had positive results, effectively reducing the percentage of plays ending in blocks and charges from 2.77 percent to 1.96.
This rule will certainly encourage less contact when players drive to the basket, giving offensive players the advantage. There will likely be far less charges because defensive players will have to be more aware of the restricted arc and not have enough time to step up. The proposed rule change could help further develop players looking to go to the next level defensively, as the NBA already has a 4' restricted-area arc.
The restricted-area arc was introduced in the NCAA in the 2010-11 season. The new expanded arc would go into effect this upcoming season for Division 1 and the following season for Divisions ll and lll.
Pace of play
Among the most noteworthy suggestions that came from the NCAA Rules Committee, is changing the shot clock from 35 seconds to 30 seconds. The shot clock was last reduced in the 1993-94 season when the clock shrunk from 45 seconds to the current 35. Reducing the shot clock will increase the pace of the game and subsequently increase scoring.
The committee also voted to take away one team timeout in the second half and place a greater emphasis on transitioning from timeout breaks to play. Teams who lag to get back on the court after a timeout is over will be handed a delay of game warning, which will result in a one-shot technical foul.
The committee also suggested adjusting the media timeout procedures to allow a timeout called within 30 seconds of a break to count as the media timeout (NCAA women use this rule), and removing the coach's ability to call a timeout when the ball is live.
Removing the coach's ability to call a timeout when the ball is live puts a lot of power in the players' hands. When the game is on the line with less than five seconds left, the player would now have to decide whether or not he should go for the glory himself or call a timeout on behalf of his coach.
Reducing the shot clock would be a huge step to improving the game speed and pace of play in college basketball. This past season, teams averaged a staggering 67.6 points per game, which flirted with historic lows. The days of Maryland leading South Carolina 3-2 at halftime (no, this wasn't lacrosse) ended decades ago, but this reduced shot clock could really make the game more exciting for Terps fans. It could particularly help the handful of Maryland players who legitimately could make a run at the pros, who currently abide by a 24 second shot clock.
Other changes proposed
- Allowing officials to monitor potential shot clock violation on made field goals throughout the entire game.
- Making Class B technical fouls (hanging on the rim, delaying resumption of play) one-shot technicals, instead of two-shot and reinforcing them stronger
- Eliminating the five-second closely guarded rule while dribbling the ball.
- Removing the prohibition on dunking in pregame warmups. It's a shame Maryland will never be able to see Dez's pregame dunk contest.
- Allowing officials to penalize flopping by using video to review such plays.