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Expect an Even Slower Season of College Basketball

One of the more interesting aspects from Tuesday’s Big 12 media day in Kansas City was the talk that Curtis Shaw gave. Shaw is the Big 12 Coordinator of Men’s Basketball Officials, so he was there to clarify the new rules that will be implemented this season. Shaw, a former referee, was very passionate about how the new rules would be enforced, and how he believed these rules would end up impacting the game for the better. The issue is, these new rules are going to make the game much slower, and even uglier (if that’s even possible).

The college game has progressively gotten worse every year, while the NBA and overseas ratings are improving by the season. The reason for this is simple; college basketball refuses to get with the times. People do not want to see college players holding onto the ball for twenty-five seconds before they start to run their offense. Thankfully, the shot clock is now down to 30 seconds, which will somewhat speed up the game. However, like many coaches pointed out, Shaw said the five less seconds would not greatly impact the game. When looking at the facts from past seasons, Shaw said, “Five seconds did not make a lot of difference. It raised the number of possessions by like 0.6 a game per team. So it wasn’t really enough to matter.” This is a sad truth for the college game, as they need to start making some major changes that improve the game and its’ ratings.

While the shot clock change is a step in the right direction, the physicality aspect of the game is only getting worse. Shaw mentioned that early in the last two seasons, refs started calling “hand check” fouls, but as the season progressed, the chippy foul calls went away. This season, Shaw has worked hard to teach officials to call any hand check violation, and to be more consistent when calling these violations. Shaw later went on to describe rebounding in the college game as “disgusting.” He was mainly referencing the rebounding on free throws, emphasizing that the team shooting free throws should not be able to rebound the ball with the position that they are in. Along with rebounding fouls being emphasized, look for there to be many more illegal screen calls this year.

While college basketball is taking away a lot of the physicality of the game, they do deserve some credit for making a few noticeable changes that should speed up the pace of the game. Some of these changes include; taking one second half timeout away from teams, allowing a total of 10 seconds to advance the ball to the front court, removing the coaches’ ability to call timeouts, and removing the 5 seconds closely guarded rule. Another change that should help with speeding up the game and spreading the floor for more scoring, is moving the three point line back one foot. All of these changes will be interesting to monitor this year for viewers, and hopefully they will improve the game and its’ ratings.

The main takeaway I had from listening to Shaw on Tuesday is that this could be an extremely boring and ugly season of college basketball for fans. While some changes could eventually improve the game, it will take a long time for this process to improve the game. Even Shaw admitted, “It will be ugly early.” In speaking with Kansas coach Bill Self, he believed that the physicality aspect of the game is not going to be where it has been of the past, and that the new rules benefit the “finesse” style of team. He later went on to say, “There are going to be a ton of free throws shot. I’ll be shocked if my team doesn’t have multiple games where there are sixty free throws shot… Fans will have to be patient.” The defense is now at a major disadvantage, so it will be very interesting to see how coaches and players adjust to the officiating this season.

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