Rule changes should help OU

Sooners up-tempo offense will benefit from proposed tweaks to rules

In hopes of improving the quality of a game that has been widely criticized, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules Committee proposed a host of rule changes, many revolving around speeding up pace on offense and reducing the physical nature of defense.

The recommendations, which range from shortening the shot clock to 30 seconds to extending the restricted zone under the basket by one foot, must still be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel on June 8.

This all comes after scoring in Division I basketball fell to just 67.6 points per game last season, nearly the lowest in the history of the sport.

“The committee has taken significant steps to reverse the trends in the sport that are concerning to the men’s college basketball world,” committee chair and Belmont head coach Ricky Byrd said in a release by the NCAA. “. . . Our anticipation is that dedicated officiating enforcement, along with this package of changes, will help balance the offense and defense in our game.”

The rule changes would come in to play for next season if approved. All would have an immediate impact on the game – some more than others. Some might affect the Sooners in a far more specific manner.

Here are some of the major changes and how they could affect Oklahoma men’s basketball next season:

Shot clock reduced from 35 seconds to seconds

How it affects OU: Five seconds isn’t going to make a ton of difference, but if nothing else, it will make extra-slow offenses play slightly closer to Oklahoma’s desired pace.

Every second cut of the shot clock is a good thing for Oklahoma.

Restricted-area arc under the basket is extended from three feet to four feet.

How it affects OU: The rule will create more space under the basket, making it a violation to take a charge inside the arc. Oklahoma didn’t take many charges last season, and the vast majority were drawn by departed senior TaShawn Thomas.

The Sooners rim defense will be much more focused on blocks this season than body work. On the other side, the Sooners’ backcourt, which is one of the best in the country, should be able to drive more freely.

The number of timeouts has been cut from five to four – and only three can be used in the second half.

How it affects OU: Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger isn’t one to use a ton of timeouts early in games, and he started to make really good strategic use of them down the stretch and in the postseason. It doesn’t seem like this new rule will affect him too much.

There are a few other changes to timeouts. Outside of the first team timeout of the second half, all team timeouts taken within 30 seconds of media timeouts will become media timeouts. There will also be a stronger enforcement of returning to play quickly after timeouts.

Warm-up dunking is now allowed; hanging on the rim is just a one-shot technical foul; Elimination of the five-second closely guarded violation

How it affects OU: The only in-game affect for Oklahoma will be the removal of the five-second violation. Most officials don’t even closely watch the call, but the few that do won’t be giving the advantage to Oklahoma’s elite backcourt any more - especially Isaiah Cousins, who is Oklahoma’s top perimeter defender by far.

On a side note, there will probably be a backboard broken before a game next season and then another rule change in the offseason.

Overall, the changes shouldn’t have a negative impact on Oklahoma. The Sooners play a brand of basketball that the NCAA is trying to emulate.

Oklahoma isn’t overly physical, even in the defensive post. The Sooners rely on athleticism and activity there. Those two traits aren’t frowned upon very often.

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