Monday, June 8, 2015

NCAA passes rule change proposals, local coaches weigh in

The 35-second shot clock is now a thing of the past, as NCAA officially voted in favor of trimming allotted time to 30 seconds, among many new wrinkles in college basketball. (Photo courtesy of the Wall Street Journal)

The era of a 30-second shot clock is now upon us, after the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved several changes to the way the game is played, modifications that will be implemented in the 2015-16 season. Among the additional alterations to the pace of the game include the loss of a timeout in the second half, which will now see teams have only three opportunities to stop the clock in the final 20 minutes of regulation as opposed to four, and coaches will no longer have the ability to call a live ball timeout.

The big takeaway, though, is the shorter shot clock, which was experimented with during three of the four postseason tournaments last season, and saw negligible differences in offense and efficiency. Yet for all the perception of five fewer seconds being a major difference maker, there are some coaches who feel otherwise.

"I don't think five extra seconds is going to have any impact on the game, honestly," Albany head coach Will Brown said when discussing the newly minted proposals. "I've heard people say they should drop it to 24, (seconds) but in my opinion, if you drop it to 24, then you have to ban zone defense. If you drop it to 24 and there's no zone, you're going to have a lot more possessions, a lot more opportunities to score. I don't think there's anything wrong with our game, I really don't. We've got a good game right now."

Saint Peter's head coach John Dunne does not consider the 30-second time frame a big deal either, but feels that the expansion of the restricted area arc from three to four feet will affect the game in a more profound manner.

"Helping eliminate the rotation player, having the extra space you need to get outside to take a charge," Dunne; a former member of the NCAA Rules Committee, said. "I think it will clearly help the offense, maybe make it a little easier for an offensive player to get to the rim, or get that help they need to rotate further or open up the next pass."

One of the more refreshing insights came from Manhattan's Steve Masiello, who has always displayed a willingness to adapt to the ever-changing landscape so that he can effectively instruct his team, which enters the coming season in search of a third consecutive Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship.

"Most of the rule changes are very good," he admitted. "The only one I don't like is taking the timeouts where the coach can't call it. If you want to clean up the game, you've got to let the coaches help the players in certain situations."

Masiello's perspective on the restricted area is one that, honestly, anyone involved with college basketball shares to some degree, in that no one really knows how that will ultimately shape the game.

"I'm curious to see how that plays," he candidly opined. "I like it for the sense where I think it's going to open up the game more and it's going to affect spacing on the floor and how people play."

Masiello also spoke out in favor of a shorter shot clock, even arguing that it eventually be pared down to 24 seconds, stating that the restriction of time could pose a challenge for opposing offenses against the matchup zone defense that his Jaspers play.

"I love the shorter clock," he passionately advocated. "I'd like to see them go to a 24-second clock. I think it adds to your ability to rush teams, and that's something we've thrived on. So now, let's say you get the ball, you cross halfcourt at 22 (seconds). You really only have twelve seconds to attack our zone, because once the shot clock gets under 10, the pressure goes on the offense to make a play now, so I think your ability to defend; especially now that the 10-second count doesn't start over, I think you'll see more teams go to zones, which is something we've been doing for a while, it's kind of been our primary set for a long time."

"I think that does play to us," he continued, "but on the flip side of that, you're going to see the better offensive teams really be able to separate themselves from the inferior offensive teams. I think teams that can really score the basketball are going to have some success, because I think they'll be able to separate themselves in regards to how quickly they could get a good shot."

As far as the new timeout legislation, Brown has no qualms with it. In fact, he argued that it makes coaching more valuable.

"I don't have a problem if they were to take away a timeout or two," he offered. "I think it puts more emphasis on the coach to make sure his team is prepared for all situations. You have so many more practices than games, maximize your practice time, or maybe all 30-second timeouts and no full timeouts. I think we want to be careful on changing the game that, in my opinion, is a good game."

While Brown is indifferent to the timeout structure, Dunne was diplomatic in his analysis of the changes.

"I'm in favor of getting rid of the timeout," said Dunne, "but I'm not in favor of the coaches not being able to call timeout, as I'm sure a lot of coaches are not. At times, when you're in the heat of battle as a coach, you want timeouts and you want to strategize. The game really does get slowed down for the fan, and especially for just the average spectator, and there are enough stoppages through the course of 40 minutes, that we're not going to miss this coaches' timeout so much. And any time you can eliminate some of those stoppages, it helps keep the spectator engaged."

"I think they will help," Masiello stated with regard to the rule changes as a whole. "My only concern is going to be, like in years past, is this something we're going to see for a month? Are high-major games going to be refereed differently than mid-major games? Is this going to last throughout the year? As long as it's called consistently for eight months, seven months, whatever the season is, I'm good with it all."

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