How to standardize the rules of basketball

28 Mar

I do a lot of complaining about basketball officials. NBA and NCAA both. They’re not good. I wrote a post awhile ago about how to improve the situation. That post was about how referees are supervised and assigned. Basically I said that USA Basketball should be in charge of all the officials and handle assignments, promotions, etc. In order for that to work, the rules need to be standardized. If refs are calling games at different levels, the different levels need to have the same rules. Of course, this is a minor consideration. The real reason to standardize the rules is that it makes things easier and more enjoyable for everyone. Giving each governing body authority over its own little fiefdom leads to rules that are different for no reason. This is stupid. Here’s how the rules should work, at all levels, from high school to the NBA.*

*I’m sure I will miss a lot of things. Maybe I’ll add on later if other things come to mind. As always I did no research of fact-checking of any kind. I’m also not going to try to wade into FIBA rules.

Three point line
This is an easy one. Use the NBA line. The college line is too close.

Restricted area/block/charge
The block/charge is the most aggravating thing about watching basketball. When I was little there were hardly any offensive fouls. Now they’re everywhere. Why? Defenders spend a lot of time trying to draw them. It drives me crazy. Darting in front of someone and falling down when he runs into you isn’t playing defense. Some players are terrific at drawing charges. There was a lot of uproar over Aaron Craft’s drawn charge against Iowa State last weekend. Whether he was or wasn’t outside the circle misses the point. He wasn’t trying to play defense. He was trying to get a call. I HATE this. To successfully draw a charge you have to a) jump in front of the player with the ball early enough to “establish position” b) but not so early so that the player with the ball has time to adjust his path. The whole thing sucks. Big time. I’d eliminate the restricted area altogether. You want a charge? The offensive player has to take a full step before he jumps into you with you in “established position”. I don’t even want to get into the lunacy of the NBA’s Lower Defensive Box. Just fucking get rid of it.

Illegal defense
OK, so this isn’t in the NBA rule book anymore, they have defensive three seconds instead. I hate this rule. Not as much as the old illegal defense, but I still hate it. Get rid of it. Defenders should be able to go wherever they want whenever they want. NBA why do you hate zone defense? If teams can make it work let them.

Shot clock
College basketball fans always talk about how college offenses are so much better or fundamental or whatever, and they think the shot clock is why. These people are idiots. They think every team runs some sort of intricate Bobby Knight motion offense. You know what most college teams run? The “dribble around 25 feet from the basket for the first 20 seconds of the possession” offense. It’s terrible. Run down the court and do something. At the same time, NBA sets are pretty much one-and-done exercises. There’s not enough time to pull out and reset. Compromise: 30-second shot clock.

Hand checking
The NBA has it right on this one. Let guards dribble the ball unmolested. Let them do stuff. They might make good plays that lead to good shots. That’s what we all want to see.

40 minutes is way too short. College football and hockey teams play 60 minutes. College soccer teams play 90 minutes. College baseball teams play nine innings. College basketball teams can’t play 48 minutes? Yes they can. Four 12-minute quarters. High school teams too. They only play 32 minutes now, which is beyond stupid. Timeouts are out of control. Best case is to adopt the NBA TV timeout rule, which has two per half plus the quarter break. As far as called timeouts, time for a drastic reduction. Three per game. If you don’t use one by halftime, you lose it. This will require coaches to let their players play basketball. The biggest misconception is that teams need timeouts to draw up plays. This is bullshit. Especially in college. To pick on one recent example: Fran Dunphy from Temple. He called a timeout with 50 seconds left in the game, his team down one, and ten seconds on the shot clock. Temple came out with no play and heaved an airball. Another timeout. At this point, Temple can win if they hold Indiana scoreless in their possession and get a quick shot at the end. The one thing they absolutely cannot do under any circumstance is give up a three, which puts Indiana up by four and effectively ends the game. Of course Temple left All-American Victor Oladipo wide open for a three. This kind of thing happens constantly. I don’t know what these coaches say during timeouts, but it almost never results in some kind of great clever play.

Advancing the ball after timeouts
In the NBA if you call a timeout after a made basket, you get to inbound from the sideline instead of under the basket. This is to enable more buzzer-beaters. I like this, especially with fewer timeouts available. Make coaches use them strategically. Now they can just call as many as they want and they never seem to run out.

Bonus free throws
The NBA suffers from the lack of the one-and-one. Since we’re playing four 12-minute quarters, here’s how to do it: Count team fouls for each half, not each quarter. One-and-one after the eighth team foul, two shots after the twelfth. Six fouls to foul out, of course. This also allows us to scrap the NBA’s convoluted end-of-quarter alternate free throw bonus rule, which is too complicated for me to understand without looking it up.

Jump balls
Jump it up! The possession arrow is horrible and I don’t get what purpose it serves.


One Response to “How to standardize the rules of basketball”

  1. Jake April 1, 2013 at 4:01 am #

    You’re right about eliminating the restricted area. it has ruined the game of college basketball. it was sheer lunacy when they put that no charging semi-circle on the court. the game was fine before that, but now it sucks. charging had nothing to do with whether your feet were outside of a line on the court. you’re right, it’s supposed to be about timing, about setting yourself early enough to establish position and draw contact initiated by the offensive player but not so early that the player has time to adjust his path. it didn’t happen that often, but you knew a charge when you saw it. now players have to dance around this no-charging arc, it’s insulting to natural basketball. the problems of college basketball start and end with the no-charge arc if you ask me. the quality of the game has gone way down since it has been implemented.

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