Those who thought that the changes to Men’s College Basketball this season are radical will be in for quite a shock next season. With the expanded restricted area, “freedom of movement” emphasis, and shortened shot clock the game has changed drastically.
As strategically beautiful as the games were last season, they were not interesting to the casual viewer. With the new rules scoring has increased, turnover rates are down because perimeter defense is less physical, and the game has noticeably improved. However, the NCAA is not satisfied.
All of the brightest basketball minds across the nation have speculated about what comes next. Some are proponents of a college basketball rule set that differentiates from the NBA game, and they appreciate the two playing different brands of basketball. Others believe rules that more closely resemble those in the association would improve the game.
All of these rule changes would create more continuity, more movement, and make talent evaluation easier for NBA front offices. But again, the college basketball purists wonder what this will do to a game that has been halves, and intentionally different from its professional counterpart for so long.
Those worried what effect a change that drastic will have on the game may look no further than the next women’s game on campus. This year, women’s college basketball instituted many of the rules that the men’s game is thinking about adopting next year. The new rules have been a major success.
Basketball is a game that is simply at its best when played over the duration of four quarters. This gives players rest, keeps the best players on the floor, and prevents games from turning into foul shooting competitions. It is a rarity in men’s college basketball for a team to not hit the bonus by the end of a half. In today’s women’s game, common fouls almost never send players to the line --- and that’s how it should be.
Thursday night the Boston College Women’s team took on a very good No. 16 Miami team. Despite not pulling out a victory, the game was exciting and engaging. Close down to the final seconds, filled with great shooting from the Eagles’ Nicole Boudreau and the Canes’ Adrienne Motley, as well as dominant post play from Mariella Fasoula who finished with 19 points.
The game unfortunately dropped the Eagles to 1-8 in conference and 13-9 overall, but it was thrilling to watch. It was clean and exemplified the way basketball should be played. In fact, only two common fouls resulted in trips to the line. In contrast, there are men’s games where teams reach the bonus with 13 minutes left in the half.
Despite the disappointing loss, one thing was abundantly clear: this is the way basketball is meant to be played. The men’s game needs to adopt the quarter system so: team fouls can reset at every 10 minutes instead of every twenty, the number of timeouts decrease, and timeouts that advance the ball will have a greater impact. Ultimately, these changes will increase last second chances to win. What kind of fan doesn’t love a good buzzer beater?
Until the men’s game accepts the same rules, the NCAA will not be putting its best possible product on the floor. Hopefully, they can take the success they have had with the alterations to the women’s rules and make them universal across all of college basketball.
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