NCAA rule changes aim to increase pace, freedom of movement

In May, the NCAA college basketball rules committee adopted a package of sweeping changes that will have significant impact on the way the game is played this season. Most notable among them: Reducing the shot clock from 35 to 30 seconds in an attempt to increase the pace of play.

Other new rules attempt to reduce physicality and increase freedom of movement both in the post and on the perimeter and speed up the flow of the game, moving closer to the NBA and international versions of the game.

“I’m excited about it,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “I think (Belmont coach) Rick Byrd, he did an unbelievable job as head of the rules committee, getting movement in our game we haven’t had in a long time.”

Not everyone is a fan, though. Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said he fears the new rules emphasize offense at the expense of defense and talent over hustle.

“I don’t have guys who can make shots like Kobe (Bryant), under pressure, falling away and banking them in on a contested shot,” Hamilton said. “I don’t have a Carmelo Anthony on my team who can make contested shots. ... I might be successful without any pros on my team. But now we’re dictating how everybody has to play the game. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a good defensive team. But that’s been evaluated by certain people in the media as ugly. I love an ugly defensive game.”


The ACC actually used a 30-second shot clock in exhibition games a year ago with minimal impact on the game, but it will be interesting to see how methodical teams like Virginia alter their offensive rhythms with the loss of five seconds of possession time.

“I think it’s fine, this rule,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “I wouldn’t be a proponent of it going to 24. Having played in the NBA, I think that’s a different animal. I think some coaches wouldn’t agree with that, but that’s about being able to create your own shot and a lot of isolation and one-on-one play. I don’t know if the college game is quite ready for that.”


The attempt to change the definition of a block/charge two years ago was an unqualified failure – officials went back to the old standard about a third of the way through the season – so the rules committee decided to expand the restricted area under the basket from 3 feet to 4 feet.

A help defender standing in that area cannot draw a charge, which should tilt the balance slightly in favor of the offense as players driving to the basket are more likely to draw a foul while also reducing dangerous collisions around the rim. An experiment with the larger arc during the 2014 NIT saw the number of block/charge plays decrease from 2.77 per game to 1.96.


Team timeouts will now be combined with TV timeouts when called just before them, removing the old timeout–10 seconds of play–timeout situation. Coaches can no longer call timeout while the ball is live, and calling a timeout will no longer reset the 10-second clock in the backcourt. Other minor changes – including less time to substitute a player who picks up his fifth foul – are also designed to quicken play.


The 5 seconds closely guarded rule was removed, meaning one player can keep the ball as long as he wants as long as he’s dribbling it. Dunking is now allowed in warmups.

The arm bar – a forearm in the back of an opposing player – is now legal even when that player has the ball. Previously, a defender would have to remove his arm if the offensive player received the ball, leaving the defensive player vulnerable.