NIT will use 30-second shot clock next month, a rule change Bill Self favors
College basketball fans unaware that the NIT still exists might have reason to tune in next month to the tournament that steadily has faded from prominence.
The shot clock for the 32-team men's tournament that features the best teams that come away empty on Selection Sunday will be reduced from 35 seconds to 30 in order to see what impact it has on scoring and pace of play, the NCAA announced Friday. Also, the restricted arc area under the basket will be extended from 3 feet from the center of the basket to 4 feet.
Kansas coach Bill Self consistently has spoken in favor of shaving the shot clock to 30 seconds.
“A lot of coaches are not in favor of shot-clock reduction,” Self said last month when the discuss the down-ward scoring trend in college basketball. “They think that if you have trouble scoring now try getting a shot earlier in the clock where you don’t give the defense a chance to break down. I’m not one who feels that way. I think the shot clock should be reduced because coaches will adjust and try to score earlier in the clock than if there was a 35-second clock, as opposed to 30, but a lot of coaches across America do not feel strongly about that at all.”
In announcing the NIT's participation in serving as guinea pigs for the two potential rules changes, the NCAA defined the restricted-arc, which became a rule in the 2011-12 season, thusly: "A secondary defender cannot establish initial legal guarding position in the restricted area for the purpose of drawing a charge while defending a player who is in control of the ball - either dribbling or shooting - or who has released a pass or shot. When contact occurs in the restricted area under these circumstances, a blocking foul should be called unless the contact is a flagrant foul."
I like the idea of expanding the restricted area a foot because it subtly promotes offense and should make a player less tentative when driving to the hoop and rewarded more often for blowing past his man.
The NIT holds an important place in college basketball's tradition, so it's cool that the NCAA has kept it alive and has found another reason for keeping it relevant by making it a laboratory for potential rules changes.
The NCAA Men's Basketball Rules Committee meets May 13-15 in Indianapolis and discussing the data from the NIT games is on the agenda.
“The committee discussed both of these potential rule changes during its May 2014 meeting, knowing that the May 2015 meeting would be the committee’s next opportunity to make a change to either of these rules,” said Belmont coach Rick Byrd, who chairs the NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules Committee. “Although the committee will discuss a number of potential rules changes at the meeting, having specific data on these two rules should help the committee make a decision about whether such potential rule changes might further improve the flow and competitiveness of college basketball.”
Promoting offense is the way to go, especially if done with subtle rules changes, which isn't to say low scoring can be blamed on the rules.
"I think a lot of that is bad offense," Self said. "I think it’s easier to coach defense than offense a lot of times and it’s easier to stop people than exploit people. I think a lot of coaches feel that way. But our players’ skill set I don’t think is quite as good. I think it’s just generally going down in large part because we don’t have as many great players playing in the college game as what we’ve had in the past because none of them stay past their sophomore year.”
The biggest influence on the decline in skill is one nobody ever discusses: Video games. Leisure time once spent shooting hoops now is spent slaying dragons or putting up jumpers as LeBron James.