The idiotic group that gave us time saving last football season only to reverse itself when it proved to be a miserable failure has struck again with its decision to move the three-point line back a foot for the 2008-09 basketball season.
Did I miss something? Was there a huge national outcry about how bad college basketball was over the past few years? I'm a firm believer in the theory if it ain't broke, don't fix it. The NCAA however appears to believe in the policy of, "let's screw around with it and see if it helps".
The vote of the Basketball Rules Committee will be reviewed by the Playing Rules Oversight Committee on May 25th for final approval. Here's one vote for that committee telling the other to buzz off.
The Current Line Works
At 19'9" the current three-point line was worked effectively to allow the "little guy" to have a major impact on the game. As college basketball gets more and more physical the ability to score three from the perimeter has served as an excellent deterrent to muscular play. Moving the line back will simply reward more zone defense and more physical post play while limiting the ability of the smaller player to affect the outcome.
I know it's just a foot, but it serves no positive purpose. Florida showed how to best utilize the line as it is. Putting together a team that can score all over the court is basketball at its best. The last two NCAA Titles were won by an incredibly unselfish team that balanced the inside and outside scoring threat beautifully. What would possess anyone to think about changing the rules at this stage?
Coaches Split on the Issue
An article on ESPN.com showed just how divided the coaching community is on the issue of the three-point distance. It quoted Billy Donovan sounding somewhat resigned to the rule change and imploring those involved to also widen the lane to create more opportunities to take the ball to the basket. Tennessee Coach Bruce Pearl hates the idea as do others, but some like the idea of no longer "rewarding" a 20-foot jumper with an extra point.
The problem with that mindset is that it ignored the reality we live in. Officials have allowed college basketball to resemble wrestling on occasion. The saving grace to the rough and tumble ways of the modern game has been the three-point shot, which rewards a basic skill while punishing laziness on defense.
Ready Yourself for Ugliness on the Floor
One of the under publicized issues in all of this is the decision to allow the women's game to keep the 19'9" line for three-point shots. Thus every court on which both men's and women's teams play will have multiple lines. Not only will that cause confusion for officials and invariably some blown calls; it will be ugly as hell to look at.
Cross your fingers that May 25th will turn out better than May 4th did.
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