By Greg Johnson
With the 2010-11 NCAA men’s and women’s basketball competition tipping off next week, fans will notice some experimental rules in the early part of the season.
In some men’s multi-team events and exhibitions, a “restricted area” arc located two feet from the center of the basket will be placed in the lane. This is an extension of last year’s rules change that made it illegal for a secondary defender to take a charge underneath the basket.
By placing the arc on the court, officials, players and coaches will have a visual aid to determine the proper positioning by a defender to draw a charge. If a player’s foot is touching or inside the arc, officials have been instructed not to call a charge.
“We’re working to get as many events a possible to put the arc down so we can have some data and feedback to discuss in our meeting next May,” said NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules Committee Chair Mike Brey, who is also the head coach at Notre Dame. “Coaches and official evaluators felt there were fewer collisions underneath the rim last year due to the rules change. It cleaned up the wipeouts underneath the basket.”
If the rules committee receives positive feedback from basketball stakeholders, the arc could become a permanent fixture in men’s college basketball as early as the 2011-12 season.
“We want to take an aggressive look at this,” said Brey, whose team will play in the Old Spice Classic November 25-28 in Orlando. “My first year on the rules committee four years ago we brought it up, and it was only talked about for 10 seconds before it was turned down. We want the information because there seems to be a real trend toward adding it. But the biggest question is where the arc should be placed that is right for our game. That is the data and feedback we need.”
On the women’s side, teams will record shooting percentages behind a 20-foot, nine-inch, three-point line (the current distance in men’s basketball) during exhibition games and 40-minute game-like scrimmages. The current distance for the women’s three-point line is 19 feet, 9 inches.
The data collection continues the NCAA Women’s Basketball Rules Committee’s examination of the three-point line.
“We’ve charted three-point shots in previous NCAA basketball tournaments,” said Rice Senior Associate Athletics Director Leslie Claybrook, who is also chair of the Women’s Basketball Rules Committee. “Coaches have asked for additional information on how many shots are taken behind the men’s three-point line. That’s the genesis for us doing it this year.”
Data collected from all three divisions in the 2009-10 season showed that more than 60 percent of three-point shots were being taken from behind the men’s line, with comparable shooting percentages.
Last season, Divisions I and II women’s basketball players made about 32 percent of their three-point shots, while Division III players connected around 30 percent of the time.
“We want the answer to several questions,” said Claybrook, who is also a member of the Division I Women’s Basketball Committee. “Is it good for the game to move the line back? Will it increase scoring? Will it help clear out the lane area and clean up post play?”
One change that is not experimental in both the men’s and women’s games this season regards strengthening the penalties for elbow contact above the shoulders.
Officials will assess either an intentional or flagrant foul on a player who swings an elbow and makes contact with an opponent above the shoulders. If the foul is deemed to be intentional, the team whose player was struck would receive two free throws and possession of the ball. If the foul is deemed to be flagrant, the player who threw the elbow would be ejected.
Previously, such contact called for as little as a common foul or as much as a flagrant foul to be assessed. Under the new proposal, though, officials would no longer have the option of calling a common foul. A player who swings the elbow and makes contact below the shoulders would still be subject to a common foul, an intentional foul or a flagrant foul, depending on the severity and intent.
“Concussions are a big problem in sports,” Brey said. “We wanted to do something about the contact that occurs above the shoulders. You have to penalize and have a deterrent. This was an off-year in the cycle for making rules changes for us, but we advocated for this change based on student-athlete safety.”