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NCAA approves rule changes in timeouts, 30-second shot clock, to speed the game

Does college basketball feel too slow? The men's basketball rules committee is trying to inject a little adrenaline into college hoops.

Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

So, the changes proposed a month ago - and approved for next season are a go.

The NCAA men's basketball rules committee met to change the game to make it more appealing, more interesting, a better product.

We're on board.

Of course, our reactions here are colored by watching Steve Lavin's teams and his admittedly curious use of timeouts for teaching, play stoppage and... timeouts that sometimes, honestly, none of us here nor our readers would figure out why.

Timeouts will have to be called by the players, not by the foot-stomping coach on the sidelines who ...wants to tell the player he is of illegitimate birth or an actual pile of feces.

You know what I'm talking about - that timeout after some players scores on a driving layup, where Lavin sets some level of second-half strategy or stops to be heard during the flow of the game.

Rules shouldn't be in existence just to save a coach from his worst ideas, but Lavin's not the only one using the rules to imprint himself on the game instead of creating a framework and way of thinking for his players. College basketball is a control freak's paradise, where the coach on the sideline could call plays like football coaches do.

Here are the changes.

Increase the pace of play rules

* A change to a 30 second shot clock

Obviously, with less time to drain, there will be a few more shots/ possessions, helping to appease the nattering nabobs who bemoan scores under 60 points without considering the quality of play. (I confess, I loved the good Southern Illinois teams under Chris Lowery. So low-scoring, so physical. I also loved the mid-90s Knicks. I like watching Wisconsin squeeze time off the clock.)

A shorter shot clock would mean less time for the time-killing weave, the one that kept the six-man St. John's team a little fresher. And it also means that teams would have to maximize their actions on and off the ball, working to get open, dribbling and probing with more purpose.

Better play? It's hard to say if that will cause teams to focus more on skill. For all we know, teams will think more about offensive rebounding and throw up a more wild shots, lowering possession efficiency while making the game "faster". Still, most teams don't use the entire shot clock all game, just for some late possessions.

If you have ESPN Insider, read Fran Fraschilla's smart take on the idea of a shorter clock.

* Removing one of the timeouts available in a game.

Which would mean four timeouts in a game and three in the second half (one timeout doesn't carry over to the second half).

Boo hoo.

Coaches will bemoan this. And our access to college hoops is through the coach of the programs we follow and the cult of the coach and through ex-coaches who speak on television, all of whom are molders of young men and strategic geniuses.

They will tell us that losing a timeout is bad for planning reasons.

They will tell us that the players will find themselves in tough situations without the coach to step in and halt the flow of play.

They will tell us this will ruin the quality of the game if they can't step in with sage teaching.

But maybe better basketball will come when a set of players has practiced all manner of situations and doesn't need a time out to set up a specific play. Maybe teams will learn to calm themselves without the sage words of the head coach.

But for the rest of us, we won't have to see a team on the wrong side of a butt-kicking wasting time when they have no solutions!

* Resuming play more quickly after a time out.

In other words, no lingering, slow meanders back to the court as the coach is getting one last word or twenty in.

* Removing the coach's ability to call live ball timeout.

Timeouts in the flow of the game will have to be called by the players, not by the foot-stomping coach on the sidelines who really thinks his team is off-kilter, or wants to tell the player he is of illegitimate birth or an actual pile of feces, or whatever abuse comes to mind.

For St. John's fans, the invective is less nasty, but the effect is the same. Our readers would pull their hair out about the "Lavin Timeout". You've seen it. Let your mind drift back to a game, almost any St. John's game, where the team was down, let's say, ten points.

Nothing kills the flow of a game for the audience more than stopping after a bucket quickens the pulse of the faithful with hope.

Or even worse, when that timeout happens when the team is up a couple of possessions. Not only does it seem like a momentum killer (we didn't run the numbers on how St. John's performed afterwards but... our readers felt it did not increase efficiency) but that timeout became a chance for the opposing coach to set up counter moves when the Red Storm seemed to playing "downhill", putting their athleticism to work and flustering the other team.


* Making a time out called within thirty seconds of a media timeout become the media timeout.

While this was a method used to rest D`Angelo Harrison, Phil Greene IV and the gang... it really made a game drag.

* Allowing a total of ten seconds to advance the ball into the front court.

[Isn't that already the rule?]

* Reducing the amount of time to replace a disqualified player.

There are also emphases in reducing physical post play, in defense on the dribbler on the perimeter, and in moving screens (we're looking at you, Creighton) - to create greater range of motion for players.

Sportsmanship + Safety

* Reducing the "restricted zone" under the basket to four feet, like in the NBA.

Within that area, a defender cannot legally draw a "charge", which should cut down on collisions - as it did in an experiment down in the NIT - the block/ charge play decisions reduced by almost on per game (to 1.96/ game). See this diagram from USA Today Sports to see what it looks like.

* No more fake flopping

Never forget Sir`Dominic Pointer. Let's call it the DomPointer Rule.

Flopping would likely be a technical of some kind.

Management rules

These include:

* Allowing officials to monitor shot clock violations at any time.

All possessions matter. Not just the ones at the end when everyone wants to get to their cars or subway.

* Removing the prohibition on dunking in pregame warmups.

Currently a Class B foul - for the intimidation factor, we suppose - this is a pretty stupid rule.

* Making Class B technical fouls 1 shot techs.

These include hanging on the rim or holding the ball to stop resumption of play or to admire the beauty of the great orange ball.

In conjunction with the previous rule change, this is a goofy rule, where teams occasionally shoot two free throws before the game even tips off.

* Eliminating "five second closely guarded" rule while dribbling the ball.

I rarely see it enforced.