The move to a restricted area in college hoops has been in the works for years. Infamously, two years ago, the NCAA decided that an invisible restricted area under the rim -- something the referees would simply have to establish and police themselves -- was the best way to alleviate collisions and difficult block-charge calls near the goal. This was silly, of course, but because the NCAA didn't think member institutions had enough time to apply a simple semicircle of paint on their floors -- I'm still not sure why -- the creation of a real, actual NBA-style semicircle was delayed.
No more. This week, the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved the implementation of a restricted area semicircle in Division I men's and women's hoops. Imaginations no longer required.
Divisions II and III will make the same change in 2012-13, apparently because those schools need more time to "plan and place the restricted-area arc in their home arenas." (Again, how hard is it to draw a semicircle in paint? Is it a money thing? Can someone explain this to me? I remain confused.) But the point is the rule is changing, the arc is going to be three feet in diameter, the low-post collision rate should drop and the game should open up as a result.
More than anything, though, referees tasked with making one of the toughest calls in all of sports -- the split-second block-charge -- will now have another tool for doing so. This is a good thing.
Meanwhile, the women's 3-point line is backing up a foot to 20 feet, nine inches, the same length as the current men's line, which was similarly extended a few years back. You may not care about that, but the data formed during the rules committee's research on the change is actually kind of interesting:
Last season, the committee asked teams to track the number of 3-point field goal attempts taken behind the 20-foot, 9-inch line and the current 19-foot, 9-inch line during exhibition games and 40-minute game-like scrimmages.
Data from 194 institutions (100 in Division I, 57 in Division II and 34 in Division III) showed that most of the attempts and makes came from behind the 20-foot, 9-inch line.
Of the shots tracked, teams were 1,046 of 3,203 (33 percent) from behind the 20-foot, 9-inch line. The data also revealed that teams were 546 for 1,823 (30 percent) between 19 feet, 9 inches and 20 feet, 9 inches.
It'd be fascinating to see similar data on the men's game. How does 3-point distance affect certain teams and certain shooters? Or does it matter at all? What have the changes in the men's game done since 2008? What would further lengthening do?
Bored statistics majors, unite: You have been called to action. Cancel your Memorial Day plans. I expect a report first thing Tuesday morning.