Morning Five: 04.24.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on April 24th, 2013


  1.  As we approach the only NBA Draft early entry deadline that actually matters — in other words, the Association’s draft deadline on Sunday, April 28 — several prominent underclassmen have yet to make their final decisions. With a couple of announcements expected later today, USA Today‘s Scott Gleeson gives a nice rundown of the pros and cons for five notable players — Louisville’s Russ Smith, Creighton’s Doug McDermott, Michigan State’s Adreian Payne, Miami’s Shane Larkin, and Baylor’s Isaiah Austin. Smith, who met with his head coach to discuss his decision on Tuesday, says that he has been losing sleep over the choice to stay or leave Louisville, and that he’s been riding the fence on the topic for the two weeks since the Cardinals won the national title. None of this group is a certain lottery pick, so the question of improvement next season versus a deeper draft is surely weighing heavily on all of their minds. 
  2. There’s been quite a bit of chatter this week about shortening the length of the collegiate shot clock as a mechanism to improve the offensive ineptness that has infected the game in recent seasons — those oft-derided 39-38 games and such. Andy Katz polled a number of high-major Division I coaches and found widespread support for a 30-second shot clock, which makes sense at a certain level. Coaches with generally more talent on their rosters are always going to argue for a faster pace — when things break down, pure talent and athleticism take over (similar arguments were made when the clock was reduced from 45 seconds to its current 35 in 1993). As Mike DeCourcy correctly notes, scoring has plummeted to its current level as a result of numerous factors (Louisville coach Rick Pitino has his own ideas) but the shot clock likely isn’t one of them. In fact, when you mix inexperienced and, frankly, less talented players with improved defensive strategies as a result of advanced scouting techniques (Synergy and the like), what you’re likely to be left with is a devil’s concoction of even more sloppy play as college teams rush to get a shot at the basket. Reducing the shot clock to improve scoring sounds great in theory, but what the NCAA Rules Committee should be discussing are ways to clean up the same game that once regularly produced average team scoring in the 70s (1964-81 with no shot clock; 1987-2003 with a 45- and 35-second shot clock) rather than the 60s (2004-present).
  3. As everyone knows, it’s transfer season, and a few notable names came across the wires yesterday.Marshall’s DeAndre Kane is expected to finish his degree this summer and will use the one-year graduate transfer rule to find (presumably) a higher-major program to showcase his wares for a year. Whoever gets him will receive a high-volume shooter (26.3% of all possessions) who also brings a solid assist (42.0%) and steals (2.8%) rates to bear — quite the free agent pick-up if you ask us. Alabama’s Trevor Lacey, a two-year starter at the point guard position who led the Tide in assists and was second in scoring last year, is also moving on to another as-yet-undetermined program. And then there’s this story about Purdue’s Sandi Marcius, who planned to graduate this summer and himself take advantage of the graduate transfer rule — that is, before he realized that the school wasn’t going to pay for the $7,000 he’d need to actually finish that degree. Stay tuned on this one — it’s likely to get weird.
  4. Let’s all take a moment to welcome new Rutgers head coach Eddie Jordan back to college basketball. The longtime NBA coach hasn’t really been around the sport in over two decades, but at least the former Scarlet Knight (Class of 1977) actually wants to be there in the wake of the Mike Rice fiasco. He was introduced at a news conference yesterday and seemed very excited to get started on his new five-year, $6.25 million contract. He’s going to need to earn every penny of it. With massive player defections, substandard facilities, a move to the best basketball conference in America, and the stink of an amateur hour coaching fiasco still fresh on everyone’s minds, the rebuild at Rutgers will be monumental.
  5. This is a neat story by Eric Prisbell at USA Today about recruiting wunderkind Alex Kline, the now-18-year old who goes by the handle @therecruitscoop on Twitter and who those of us who follow such things have known about for a few years now. As it turns out, Kline is now finishing up his freshman year at Syracuse and his life has become a whirlwind of tips, networking, writing, and homework assignments mixed in with a little bit of fun now and again. Perhaps the most compelling part of his story, though, is his founding of the Mary Kline Classic, a prep all-star event each spring that raises money for cancer research and honors the life of his mother, who passed away from a brain tumor when he was only 10 years old. Keep on keepin’ on, Alex, you’re already doing great things, but it’s obvious much, much more is coming.
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In Revisiting Block/Charge Call, NCAA Encourages Fundamental Defense

Posted by EJacoby on June 15th, 2012

Who knows what’s gotten into the NCAA lately, but it’s actually getting more and more things right as far as rule changes go. Last night at midnight a new rule went into effect allowing coaches unlimited texts and calls to recruits, part of an effort to cut down on the ridiculously thick NCAA rule book that punishes actors for far too many harmless acts. Also new this week are the results of the Playing Rules Oversight Panel (PROP)’s offseason meetings, which came to a consensus about several important changes. The PROP rule adjustment garnering the biggest news is one that prohibits potentially dangerous decal stickers from appearing on courts to improve player safety, but an even more significant change involves redefining the controversial charge/block calls that cause so much consternation. The panel properly identified the growing epidemic of defenders flopping and sliding under shooters in the paint, insisting that “charge/block calls in some cases were not made correctly, sometimes giving the defense an advantage.” The PROP provided new guidelines to help better officiate the situation, which essentially calls for more blocking fouls when defenders initiate paint contact. These new guidelines will encourage defenders to move their feet and make plays on the ball rather than revert to lazy flopping tactics in the paint — a definite win for both players and fans.

Defenders should no longer get rewarded for sliding under offensive players while making a move (Getty Images/M. Heilman)

The new guidelines provided by the PROP are as follows:

  • Before the offensive player (with the ball) becomes airborne, the defender must have two feet on the floor, be facing the opponent and be stationary to draw a charge. Otherwise, it should be a blocking foul.
  • Secondary defenders (help defenders) moving forward or to the side are also in violation and those should be blocking fouls.
  • Contact that is ‘through the chest’ is not de facto proof of a charge. The rule in its entirety must be considered before determining a foul.
  • In some cases, it appears a defender is being rewarded solely for being outside the arc, without considering the other aspects of the rules.

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Evaluating the NCAA Rule Change Proposals

Posted by rtmsf on May 10th, 2010

Usually the discussion of rule changes is about as sexy as Heidi Montag’s visible scarring around her bosom, but hey, it’s the offseason and we’ve never been ones to turn away from a perfectly good plastic appendage just because of a few imperfections.  The NCAA Rules Committee came back with its annual recommendations last week, and there are three primary ones to take note of this year.  Although the media has been rightfully focused on the immediate recommendation regarding the wanton throwing of elbows (more on this below), it was two of the other experimental recs (one men’s and one women’s) that caught our eye.  Both involve line-drawing (or more accurately, curve-drawing).  Maybe we’re just anal when it comes to court geometrics, but we prefer clearly defined rules and a clean-looking playing surface.  Both of these proposed experimental rules will help with those objectives.

Battier Was a Charge-Taking Machine at Duke (SI/M. Millan)

First, we’ve griped for what seems like an eternity about the “Shane Battier” rule — the notion that players in the college game could set up to take a charge directly underneath the basket even when the offensive player had already left his feet prior to the secondary defender/charge-taker getting into position.  The NBA never had this problem in large part because referees were hesitant to call it (and players wanted to avoid certain posterization), but for the last fifteen years or so it was one of the most despised calls in college basketball.  Nothing infuriated us more than watching a spectacular offensive move into the lane get erased as a slow helpside defender rushed to set up under the rim, received contact, flopped onto his rear along the baseline and looked for the call.  More often than we’d care to remember, the johnny-come-lately defender would be rewarded with the offensive foul, the basket would be erased, and steam would gently rise from our ears. 

Last year the NCAA finally began to address this problem by enabling an imaginary restricted zone underneath the basket where charges would not be called, a clear response to the NBA’s recent success in adding a restricted area underneath its hoops.  This worked well enough to eliminate the most infuriating transgressors — those who would camp out directly underneath the rim — but the imaginary aspect of the collegiate “line” still left way too much discretion in the hands of the officials.  Depending on the officiating crew working that night, the imaginary arc might extend out only a couple of feet from the front of the basket; whereas in others, it may extend out three, four or even five feet.  The existing rule using the invisible line was a good faith effort by the NCAA to clean up play under the rim, but it is just too difficult and ambiguous for referees to consistently apply from game to game.  In response, the NCAA has moved closer to providing greater clarity with an experimental rule effective next season that will allow a restricted area arc in the paint for the preseason tournaments and exhibition games.  Once everyone sees how well it works in those contests, our hope is that it will become a standard part of the floor in coming years.

We Hate the Multiple 3-pt Lines

The second rule change is only cosmetic when it comes to the men’s game, but for some reason it really bothers us to see courts that have multiple three-point lines on it.  A new experimental rule for next year’s women’s game involves moving their three-point line back to the 20’9 distance that the men currently use.  An analysis performed by the NCAA found that nearly two-thirds of attempts in the women’s game were already coming from behind the longer line and the corresponding make percentages were similar.  Hopefully this is the first step to unifying the three-point line distance between sports and getting rid of the unsightly redundancy on courts that host both men’s and women’s games (i.e., most of college basketball).

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Finally, the Shane Battier Rule is Nigh…

Posted by nvr1983 on May 6th, 2009

This is the best news that we’ve seen come out of the NCAA Rules Committee in a long time.  It’s not quite what we’ve been requesting for lo the last decade (an NBA-style block/charge semicircle under the basket), but it’s a good start.  NOTHING in college basketball makes us more irate than watching an excellent move and finish get taken away because some douchebag stepped over at the last second and camped out directly under the rim (ok, maybe Mike Patrick, but nothing else).  If the NCAA Rules Oversight Panel approves this measure on June 3, and it should, we’ll no longer have to deal with this bastardization of the rules.  Here’s the story on what will definitely be known as the Shane Battier Rule, from the AP:

The recommendation on play under the basket won’t call for a restricted-area arc painted in the lane as the NBA has, but it prohibits a secondary defender from establishing position in the area from the front of the rim to the front of the backboard. A defender must establish position outside that area to draw a charge or player-control foul.  “In our surveys and rules forums, the coaches wanted the committee to address the increasing contact that seems to occur under the basket,” NCAA Secretary-Rules Editor for Men’s Basketball Ed Bilik said. “Instead of an experimental rule, this clarifies how officials are to call this play throughout the season.”

Shane is Used to Being on the Floor

Shane is Used to Being on the Floor

If this rule is actually implemented next season and called as currently contemplated, we figure it’s worth at least three buckets for opposing teams in Cameron.  Not.  Insignificant.

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Who Will Benefit From the Longer 3-point Line in 08-09?

Posted by rtmsf on September 17th, 2008

As you all know, the 2008-09 season will feature a three-point line that is one foot longer than it has been for the last twenty years, moving from the standard top-of-the-key 19 feet, 9 inches that every fifth grader can hit, to the comically tweenerish 20 feet, 9 inches, which is sure to cause mass hysteria and confusion among players, coaches and referees on courts with both the men’s and women’s lines (the women are staying at 19’9″).   In other words, most of the courts in D1 basketball. 

So if someone such as us wanted to take a stab at analyzing what teams this rule change might most impact, how should we approach it?  Here’s the set of assumptions that inform our admittedly unscientific hypothesis – feel free to call us on it in the comments if you like. 

Hypothesis:  Teams that have a large differential in their home/away three-point shooting percentages are likely to have fewer “pure” shooters and therefore will be most negatively impacted by the one-foot longer three-point line next season. 


  • We’re assuming that all team three-point percentages should decrease with the longer distance.
  • Teams with “pure” shooters should have high relative three-point percentages no matter where they shoot the ball – home or away (think back to Hickory High in Hoosiers – the rim is still ten feet no matter what gym you’re in).
  • There will be a natural dropoff in most team three-point percentages on the road because of adverse conditions, but good shooting teams will remain good shooting teams.  Teams with questionable shooters will show a marked decrease between their home and road three-point percentages.  
  • We admit, given turnover of players from season to season, that the predictive value of analyzing 07-08 data on the 08-09 season is tenuous at best. 

Anyway, here goes…  our first chart shows the best three-point shooting teams last year (>38% 3FG) that had large differentials (>6%) between its home and away games.  If our theory holds, these teams could be most vulnerable to the longer three-point line in 2008-09.  Wow, Temple!

The teams in our next chart were also good three-point shooting teams, but they didn’t have nearly as much of a differential (< 4%) between their home and away games.  Again, if our theory holds, we’d expect that these teams won’t be as negatively impacted by the longer line this year – these guys can shoot it consistently under any condition.

Our final chart is just thrown in are, um, the exceptions that prove the rule?  These teams had significant differences between home and away three-point percentages, alright, it’s only that they shot the ball astronomically better on the road than at home.  We have no idea what conclusions to draw from this, so we just called them anomalies (which they are, representing a handful of teams). 

Frankly, we realize that our theory has some holes in it, but maybe we’re just not seeing the total picture here.  That’s what you guys are for.  Thoughts?

Update:  KJ at referred us to KenPom’s data set on shot selection and the accompanying percentages at each distance – we only wish we had access to that data.  If the graph is correct, it tells us that an average team may not see much difference in the 3FG% with the new line.  However, it doesn’t tell us much about how good-shooting teams might react.  Nevertheless, good find and more fodder for discussion.

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