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The proposed college basketball rules changes are a solution in search of a problem

Does anyone think the problem with college basketball is that the penalties for committing too many fouls are too harsh?

NCAA Basketball: Final Four City Scenes Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The other day, Matt Norlander shared some screenshots of proposed NCAA rule changes for college basketball and, well... I don’t agree with his assessment of this as “interesting” and I definitely do not want to be “signed up.”


Actually, the conditional six-foul rule (which is really a three-fouls-per-half rule) isn’t even the dumbest rule change. That would be the “make the double bonus at five fouls, but reset it at the ten-minute mark of each half AND eliminate the one-and-one.” Who the hell wants that? The idea is to prevent a team from heading to the free throw line for 15 minutes of a half because the other team manages to commit seven fouls in five minutes. What? And I’m still not sure what exactly allowing players to commit six fouls in a game, with the condition that they can’t commit more than three in a half (or else they have to sit for the rest of the half, or the rest of the game if it’s the second half) is supposed to accomplish, other than reducing the penalty for committing a bunch of fouls.

Here is the problem with both of these rule changes: they both make it hurt less to commit too many fouls. They both start from the premise that either college basketball players can’t stop themselves from hacking the other team’s players and/or that referees can’t alter the way that they officiate the game. In other words, we just have to accept that college basketball players will foul a lot and that the referees must call all the fouls that will inevitably occur, and the goal is to make this not result in so many damn free throws.

Huh? None of this makes any damn sense, except that it probably won’t accomplish anything other than to make it even more viable for certain coaches to embrace fouling as a strategy.

(And no, I don’t want them to switch to four quarters, the ultimate solution in search of a problem.)

Meanwhile, there’s also a proposal to limit the number of timeouts that may be called by any one team in the last two minutes of the game to two. That’s fine, but why not just reduce the total number of timeouts? When television mandates that every game have four breaks in the action per half, why the hell does the coach need four timeouts on top of that? And why would we prefer that they use them outside of the last two minutes? Is the idea that if we prevent them from using them in the last two minutes, some coaches just won’t use them at all?

There are some other head-scratchers in here, as well. Eliminating the 10-second backcourt rule and the 5-second closely guarded rule probably won’t have any real effect, except to encourage stall tactics and discourage pressure defenses. Adjusting the traveling rule to make it so that Jeff Green did not travel is bad and they should feel bad. Awarding possession to the defense when they create a held-ball is beyond stupid. Widening the lane... eh, whatever. The one that I kind of like is giving teams the option of declining free throws and taking the ball out of bounds instead in the last two minutes, which I’ve long thought would be a good solution to the end-game because it basically lets the winning team tell a team down by five points with 30 seconds left to fuck off and we’re going to continue to bleed the clock until you can force a turnover. It also would potentially eliminate the affront to basketball known as fouling up three, a chickenshit strategy that should lead to coaches being tried in The Hague for crimes against humanity.

Anyway, rant over. You come for Tom’s bad takes about college sports and you get Tom’s bad takes about college sports.