Basketball Rule Changes

A few minor rule changes for men's basketball were passed by the NCAA earlier this week, but of more interest are some experimental rule changes to be conducted during exhibition games this year.

The two changes carrying the most weight include alignment along the free throw lane and the shooting of free throws during bonus situations. During free throws, the two lane spaces closest to the free-thrower will now remain unoccupied. The idea is to cut down on distractions for the shooter.

Also, no free throws will be awarded to the offended team for a offensive foul when the bonus is in effect. Previously, the defensive team would get two free thorws in these situations. This was an experimental rule last year. Under the previous rule, the offended team shot the bonus free throws.

Minor changes for next season include the continuation of the count for a three-second violation during an interrupted dribble, and redefining the "inadvertent whistle" to include any situation where an official blows the whistle as an oversight and does not have a call to make.

This season, the three second count will continue even when an offensive player loses control of his dribble.

In the case of an inadvertent whistle, the shot clock will not be reset and the team in possession of the ball will retain possession of the ball out of bounds. Also, no substitutions will be allowed during the last minute when an inadvertent whistle.

Another change includes the rescinding of the requirement to gain the consent of the visiting coach in order to be able to use a composite ball as the game ball. Previously, mutual consent of the competing coaches was necessary in order to use such a ball. The composite ball will be used for the NCAA Division I tournament starting in 2003.

As always, there will be a few points of emphasis for officials - this year's versions include the following.

The emphasis on rough play will continue for the third straight year, with special attention on rough play by the offensive player in the low post.

Intentional fouls and fouls committed off the ball in end-of-game situations must be called and penalized as described in the rules.

Officials shall ensure that a player has possession of the ball before granting a timeout. If it is not clear that a player on the team requesting the timeout has possession, officials shall err on the side of not granting the timeout.

Admittedly, these changes aren't earth-shaking. However, a couple of rules that will be experimented with during exhibitions and some preseason tournaments have a much greater chance on affecting the game in the future.

This year's experimental rules include the widening the free-throw lane by 2 feet on each side, the moving the three-point line 9 inches behind the current three-point line to create a new experimental distance of 20 feet, 6 inches, and relocating the free-throw lane block between the first free-throw lane space adjacent to the end line and the next lane space on both sides of the lane.

The rules commtte also forwarded a request to the Championships/Competition Cabinet that requires schools to test their rims for rebound elasticity once before the season and once before the postseason to ensure that their rims' elasticity falls within the accepted limits. An ad hoc survey has found widely varying ranges of elasticity that differ greatly, even between the two rims on the same court.

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