The NCAA Rules Committee voted yesterday on rule changes for the 2013-2014 college basketball season. There was nothing ground breaking, or anything completely new that will be added. The committee has recognized the trend of low scoring and is working to fix it, but they don’t want to change too much to quickly. Many are surprised to see that the 35 second shot clock will still stand for next season. The rules committee did not vote on any changes to the shot clock, citing that there was not enough support to even consider a change.
As noted, there will be no major changes coming next season. There were slight changes to the block/charge, and we will see more use of replay in late game situations. The rules committee wants to make a stronger push to have the rules already in place enforced more frequently. This is in response to the cry for less hand checks and arm bars, to allow more freedom of movement on offense. These rules already existed, but are not called as frequently, which means next season we could see more off-ball touch fouls called.
Charging has now been amended to mean that a defensive player must be set guarding position before the offensive player begins his upward motion. Put in other terms, a defensive player can not slide over once an offensive player has started his upward motion. The hope behind this change is that more blocking fouls being called, will lead to more players going to the free throw line for either 2 shots or an And-1 situation. Art Hyland, secretary editor of the men’s rule committee, said, “If that happens two or three times a game thats seven or eight more points a game.” Not sure if this is the increase in scoring people wanted to see, but its a step in the right direction. Changing the charging rule could also lead to less players attempting to take a charge, and more open looks at the rim for driving players.
The use of replay was something I believe everyone saw coming. Once the door is open to using replay, it tends to lead to more opportunities to use it. Officials can go to the monitor in the final two minutes to review out of bounds and shot clock violations. In the final four minutes of the game, officials can stop play to review two and three point shots. The rule before was that they would signal to the scorers table and review the play at the next media timeout. The four minute mark is the final media timeout, and in close games it is even more important for coaches and players to know what each basket was. A foot on the three point line in a six point game, for example, has great impact on a coaches play calling for the next possession.
What does this mean for Maryland next season? Not much at all on the defensive end. Charges taken are not an official stat kept in basketball, but with 7’1″ Alex Len protecting the rim, Maryland did not take many charges during the season. Alex Len will be missing from the team next season, but I don’t think that will change much in the defense. The wide body of Dez Wells and Seth Allen’s quickness will still make it difficult for guards to penetrate, and the length of Jake Layman and Evan Smotrcyz will help protect the rim from small forwards and power forwards. The discipline and athleticism of Maryland allowed to switch on many ball screens preventing driving opportunities for the opposing team.
Maryland’s guard could see a positive impact from the changes to charging on the offensive end. Seth Allen, Dez Wells, and Nick Faust have shown the ability to get into the lane and attack the rim. With less players taking charges, they could see more open opportunities to finish their attacks on the rim. The focus on calling more blocking fouls could also lead to them getting more free throw opportunities as well. Improving free throw shooting was always going to be a point of emphasis with this team, but now it is that much more important.
Around the ACC, I see Maryland being one of the teams that benefits from this change. Teams with attacking guards like North Carolina, North Carolina State, and Miami should also see some added benefit from the changes to block/charge. The Wolfpack worked more inside-out last season, but with the departures of Richard Howell and C.J. Leslie, we could see them look to attack more with their guards. Virginia Tech’s fast pace style offense could also reap some benefits as well, but given how poor their defense was last season, any focus on improving the offensive game could hurt them more than help.
Teams like Virginia and Boston College who don’t attack the rim often, but instead use their offensive sets to generate open looks could benefit from the focus of allowing more freedom of movement. An emphasis on preventing hand checking could help their players coming off of multiple screens. They lack speed, but use work within their sets well to create open opportunities for jump shooters. While teams like Clemson and Wake Forest, might just need a complete overhaul of the rule book to help them.
Then there are our friends in Durham, the Duke Blue Devils. Duke’s more aggressive style of defense could be toned down slightly if the emphasis on hand checking is enforced. Not enough to drastically change their defensive style, but we could see a call or two a game go against them for it. There is the potential for them to adjust to it slightly during the course of the year, but as I said don’t expect this to change how Duke plays defense. For our acting fans on the page, you guys will lose out the most. There is no focus on calling players for flopping, but if the changes to charging fouls does lead to less players attempting to take them, then we could lose out on such moments as these.
It is great to see the rules committee focusing on improving the offensive game in college basketball, I wouldn’t expect these changes to sudden lead to more games in the 80s. Don’t expect Wisconsin and Virginia to start scoring in the 70s or even the 60s on a consistent base. These are slight changes, but a step in the right direction for the rules committee and the game of college basketball. When I say that teams will benefit from these, I by no means mean that Maryland will go from middle of the ACC to first place or Duke will drop to last place just because of some slight rule changes. The benefits will be subtle and like all sports will come down to if teams choose to exploit them for an advantage or not. The rules committee will not meet again until the 2015 season ends. Until then lets hope to see an improvement in the offensive game and more awesome Dez Wells dunks.