Being a part of the 2017 NIT, and playing more than one game after a win over Cal in the first round, the CSUB Roadrunners get to continue to play basketball under some new experimental rules being used in this 2017 tournament.
Every few years the NCAA decides to try out new rules for the men’s game and uses the NIT as a proving ground for those experiments. A few years ago, it was the 30-second shot clock, down five seconds from the former 35-second shot clock used up to that point. That rule was eventually adopted and men’s basketball uses a 30-second shot clock.
This NIT we’re playing with a new foul and free-throw structure in an attempt to speed up the game. I can honestly say after seeing a couple of these contests and experiencing a couple first-hand, I am not a fan. But they don’t ask me, someone who lives and breathes the game. Apparently, they have much smarter people making these calls.
The new rules state that after five personal or technical fouls, the opposing team goes to the free-throw line for a pair of foul shots. After the first 10 minutes, those team fouls are reset to zero, the two free-throws come back into play after the next fifth foul. I don’t know how this has worked out for other teams in the NIT, but with a pair of defensive teams like CSUB and Cal meeting in the first round, that meant 68 total free-throws; I don’t see where the game sped up.
It also took away the one-and-one free-throw bonus, usually awarded after the sixth team foul. The importance of this feature in a tight game was proven in last week’s NCAA Tournament action with both SMU and USC missing a front end and changing the outcome of that game. Had it been under NIT rules, the game maybe would have ended differently; instead, USC advanced.
It’s an odd change, but only one of a couple. We are also playing with a new shot clock reset rule in the NIT as well. If a non-shooting foul causes a shot-clock reset in the front court, instead of resetting back to the full 30 seconds, it gets reset to 20 seconds. This is done to increase the amount of offensive possessions. I couldn’t tell you if that was the case in our game against Cal, but it was a much more minor adjustment to make over the free-throw rules.
Most of these rules are being done to make the college game more like the NBA. That's unfortunate since there is a reason many people watch NCAA basketball over the NBA. I don’t see a reason to emulate a product that I believe is inferior to the college game. The NBA might have the star power and the million-dollar shine, but it isn’t college basketball. It would be a shame to strip away even more of what makes it unique.
However, at this point in the season we’ll play with one arm tied behind our back if it means more games and a chance to play deeper into March. These new rules are a nuisance, but at the end of the day, just to be playing in a tournament using these experimental rules is an honor. Even if it means shooting a few more free-throws than normal or shaving a few seconds off the shot clock to squeeze in two or four more points to make the powers-that-be happy.
Corey Costelloe, a Tehachapi High graduate, is assistant athletics director for communications for California State University, Bakersfield.