Huggins On NCAA Rule Changes

Huggins On NCAA Rule Changes


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A week ago the NCAA announced a number of rules changes for men’s basketball, changes that are aimed at changing the way the game is played.

For the first time Bob Huggins, West Virginia’s veteran coach, was on the rule committee that debated the state of the game and what should and should not be done to make it better.

The most obvious rule, and the rule that probably will have the most effect on the way the game is played, is moving th 3-point line back from the collegiate distance of 20 feet, 9 inches to 22-1¾, the same measurement used in international play. The 20-9 distance has been in place since 2008 in NCAA men’s basketball.

Here are the stated reasons for making the changes they made:

– Making the lane more available for dribble/drive plays from the perimeter.
– Slowing the trend of the 3-point shot becoming too prevalent in men’s college basketball by making the shot a bit more challenging, while at the same time keeping the shot an integral part of the game.
– Assisting in offensive spacing by requiring the defense to cover more of the court.

Other rule changes include:

Resetting the shot clock to 20 seconds after a field goal attempt hits the rim and the offensive team rebounds the ball in the front court.

Allowing the use of instant replay can be conducted if a basket interference or goaltending call has been made during the last two minutes of the second half or the last two minutes of any overtime

Allowing coaches to call live-ball timeouts in the last two minutes of the second half or of any overtime

Assessing players a technical foul and ejection if they use derogatory language aimed at an opponent regarding race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability.

West Virginia
West Virginia guard Jordan McCabe (5) drives against Texas Tech’s Davide Moretti

Now, why 22-1¾, rather than 22-2, is question for far greater minds than your storyteller here, but that’s what they did to try and discourage quite so much reliance on 3-point shooting as there is in today’s game while giving more room to operate inside the line.

Some of the things they talked about but didn’t do were widening the lane, which would serve to make more room to drive and keep post players further from the basketball, change the block and charging rule, and doing  something about the “cylinder rule” that cuts back on defense.

They also discussed the NBA rule which allows, in the final minute of play, rather than taking the ball out of bounds under the basket when a time out is called, advancing it to the hash mark in the front court.

So what does Huggins think of this and what does he see the direction the game of college basketball has set out to follow?

Huggins has long felt the college game was trying to legislate post players out of the game, something he stands rigidly against and, for that reason, he was glad they did not make the jump to widening the lane.

“My personal opinion is we’ve done enough things to deter post play,” he said. “I don’t think we want five jump shooters out there. We’re close to that now.”

He wants more diversity in the game, more shot blocking, more of a premium on rebounding.

“You think back and some of the greatest players in the game were post players and now we’re in danger of taking them out of the game,” he said. “Don’t you think anyone would trade a jump shooter for Shaq? I think they probably would. For Kareem? They would. I don’t think we’ll ever have the era of the Russell, Chamberlain, Bellamy … that deal.”

But there has to be a place for the big man.

It’s funny, though, that a West Virginia player had an early influence on the direction the game took, that being Kevin Pittsnogle playing for John Beilein. The 6-11 Pittsnogle came on the scene in 2003 and began bombing away from outside, shooting 3s at 47.6% as a freshman and finishing his career with 253 3-pointers.

That’s still second on WVU’s all-time list behind Alex Ruoff.

“I’m sure he had some influence,” Huggins said of Pittsnogle’s ability to go outside and score threes. “It comes down to both style and how the game ought to be played.”

The European game at that time was moving to a more wide open offense with wider lane and 3-point shots and Pittsnogle helped get American basketball to evolve in that direction.

Huggins doesn’t understand why we should go that way,though.

“I personally believe we invented the game, we wrote the rules for the game, we dominated the game worldwide. Why would we want to change?” he said.

Right now basketball has created its own style and it comes down to playing off ball screens.

“What’s the dominant play in basketball today? Ball screens. Who sets the ball screen? The center, that’s who. And what’s he do after he sets it, he rolls to the basket. It’s approximately 50% of most offenses,” Huggins said, noting how prevalent it was in the Golden State-Toronto NBA final.

“When we were in the same league with Rick Pitino, he’d put one guy in one corner, another in the other corner, set a ball screen and try to read where the help was coming from,” Huggins said.

The situation was, do you want to pick and roll or pick and pop? By moving the 3-point line back, it could influence more of the pick and roll play which increases the value of the bigger man.

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