With interest in the game flagging after scoring nearly reached historic lows, officials knew something had to give or the game would continue to lose support among fans, so college basketball will now feature improved pace of play, a better balance of offense with defense and reduced physicality in the sport.
The key areas officials will focus on in the upcoming season are:
• Perimeter defense, particularly on the dribbler and strictly enforcing directives established before the 2013-14 season.
• Physicality in post play.
• Screening, particularly moving screens and requiring the screener to be stationary.
• Block/charge plays.
• Allowing greater freedom of movement for players without the ball.
The major rule change is the implementation of a 30-second shot clock, the first alteration since the NCAA reduced the shot clock from 45 seconds to 35 seconds before the 1993-94 season. Games during the 2015-16 season will also feature fewer stoppages in play during the second half, as coaches can now carry over only three timeouts instead of the previous four. Wtih officials focused on reducing the amount of time taken to get players back on court after a timeout, teams will receive one delay-of-game warning before picking up a one-shot technical foul.
The rest of the package designed to improve the pace of play includes:
• Adjusting the media timeout procedures to allow a timeout called within 30 seconds of a break (at the 16:30 mark) or at any time after the scheduled media timeout becomes the media timeout.
• Removing the ability for a coach to call timeout when the ball is live.
• Allowing a total of only 10 seconds to advance the ball to the front court (with a few exceptions).
• Reducing the amount of time allotted to replace a disqualified player from 20 to 15 seconds.
To reduce the number of blocks and charges, the NCAA is moving the restricted arc out from three feet to four feet in order to give offensive players an advantage and reduce collisions near the rim. After experimenting with that particular rule change during the 2015 Postseason NIT, the number of blocks/charges per game went down from 2.77 in 2013 to 1.97 per game in 2015.
Officials will also be able to penalize players who fake fouls when conducdting video reviews on possible flagrant fouls. And, finally, the NCAA will experiment in the non-Division I Men's Basketball Championship postseason tournaments with allowing players six fouls instead of five before disqualification.
Other proposals approved by the panel include:
• Allowing officials to use the monitor to review a potential shot clock violation on made field goals throughout the entire game.
• Making Class B technical fouls (hanging on the rim and delaying the resumption of play, for example) one-shot technical fouls. Previously, two shots were granted for these types of technical fouls.
• Eliminating the five-second closely guarded rule while dribbling the ball.
• Removing the prohibition on dunking in pregame warmups and at halftime.
So, good news all around for those fans who have lost interest in recent years -- the 2015-16 season will feature college basketball that is much more aesthetically pleasing.