Basketball Rule Changes

A repeat point of emphasis and changes in free throw procedures highlight this year's men's basketball rule changes

The NCAA has been trying for a number of years to cut down on rough play, especially in the lane. For the fourth straight year, this part of the game will be a point of emphasis, especially in the low post.

Of course, cleaning up inside play depends on the willingness of officials to make the calls consistently all year, not just in December. In previous years, the enforcement of this point of emphasis always seems to leak away as conference play commences.

Accoriding to the NCAA rule book:

"The rules regarding rough play are clearly written. Individual interpretation distorts their intent and is unacceptable. The emphasis of the game needs to be returned to that of skill rather than rough, physical play. Only a concerted effort on the part of all will bring that about. Most importantly, officials must call each and every game under these rules; however, coaches must teach in accordance with these rules and demand that their players adhere to them."

We'll see.

Another point of emphasis covers intentional fouls and fouls away from the ball at the end of the game, especially in situations where the fouling team is trailing and attempting to foul to regain possession of the ball. Officials are instructed to call and penalize these fouls as described in the rule book, rather than letting them slide due to the game situation.

The final point of emphasis has referees being instructed to 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 not grant the timeout.

There are not a great number of rule changes this year, however, a few that will impact the game need to be highlighted. The first of these is an experimental rule governing free throws from last year has been made permanent for this year.

When the bonus is in effect, no free throws will be awarded to the offended team for a foul committed by a member of the team in control of the ball or in possession of the ball during a throw-in.

Simply stated, that means that an offensive team that commits a foul while in possession of the ball will simply lose possession of the ball to the defense. Free throws will not be shot.

Last year, players lining up for free throws in the space closest to the basket were allowed to stand on the block separating the first and second lane spaces. This move, of course, put the players in those spaces even closer to the palyers in the second spaces, and increased contact.

Therefore, this year, in addition to the experiment of moving the blocks up, there will only be a total of six players allowed on the lane. The defense will be allowed to have four, in spaces one and three on either side of the lane. The offense is allotted the second space on either side. No players will be allowed in the fourth space, which is closest to the shooter.

The only exception to this rule is that if the defense chooses not to occupy the third space, an offensive player may occupy it.

It is hoped that this rule will cut down on contact in the lane during free throw rebounds. It also should help West Virginia, as they can outnumber the offense on the boards during this situation.

In other changes, the home team will determine the type of ball (leather or composite) to be used during games. Previously, unless both coaches consented, a leather ball had to be used. We're sure PETA will be happy.

Several experimental rules will be used in men's certified contests that occur before January 1, 2003. For WVU, this includes the two games in the Jim Thorpe Classic on December 28 and 29 in Las Vegas.

- The free-throw lane will be widened by 2 feet on each side.

- The three-point line shall be moved from 19 feet nine inches to 20 feet six inches.

- The free-throw lane block between the first free-throw lanespace adjacent to the end line and the next lane space on both sides of the lane. will be moved up the lane away from the basket.

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