For one day, we let our coaches be in charge of college basketball, and everything that encompasses -- including the rule book.
From timeouts to fouls, clock details and NCAA rules, we asked our coaches what they'd change, if they could.
What's one on-court rule you'd change?
Fran Fraschilla: I am a big advocate of international basketball and FIBA rules, so there are a few that really tickle my fancy. I would like to see college basketball go to four quarters instead of two halves to bring it into uniformity with the rest of the basketball world. That's a rule that's not likely to happen anytime soon because of television. The TV timeout is so critical to broadcasting games that there's not a good enough reason to eliminate one of those revenue-producing timeouts that would be lost with the change to quarters.
But the rule that I think will change in the near future (and as early as next season) is the FIBA rule that resets the shot clock off of an offensive rebound. The rule that'll be experimented with this year [in the NIT] will reset the clock to 20 seconds instead of 30 when a team retrieves an offensive rebound. It's already in use with FIBA and the NBA, where the shot clock is reset from 24 to 14. To me, it speeds up the game and allows another opportunity for coaching a play on the offensive end of the court. I believe you should always attack the defense before it gets set.
By the way, give credit to the NCAA for allowing rules experimentation during the NIT. There are enough of these games to give it and the Basketball Rules Committee enough data and information to make intelligent decisions regarding rules changes.
Seth Greenberg: Two things: I'd go back to the five-second closely guarded rule and to the NBA's advance-the-ball-late rule. First the guarded rule: To me, the benefit of ball pressure defensively is important, and I think it'll help our game because I think it'll get people off the ball in short-ball situations. I think the closely guarded rule puts value on teams that can pressure the ball, and it also will help offensively because instead of in late-clock one guy dribbles in for 10 or 15 seconds, now guys have to move the ball on much better offense.
As for advancing the ball, I'd do that because I think that it would create more dynamic endings in the game. It's a one-point game, and instead of having to go the full length of the court, you get a timeout. And if you have a timeout left, you advance to the hash mark. ... I think special situations are so important to college basketball and I think it would create so many more memorable endings.
Dan Dakich: I would not allow live-ball timeouts -- you couldn't call a timeout while the game was going on. You can only call a timeout when the clock is stopped or a guy made a bucket or something. I think that too often the defense gets penalized with people calling timeouts, and too often coaches get bailed out by people calling timeouts. I'd like to see that rule end there.
What's one off-court rule you'd change?
Fraschilla: As a stickler for NCAA rules -- particularly in the area of recruiting -- I'd call for more transparency and consistency regarding the punishment for the breaking of NCAA rules in the recruiting and enforcement area. It seems to me that if a college basketball coach violates a major rule, the punishment should be much harsher than it is now -- up to and including a 10-year or even lifetime ban from coaching at the Division I level. Because the majority of coaches are trying to adhere to all of the major rules, it puts them at a huge disadvantage in competing with people who willfully violate them. If one coach cheats, another coach usually gets fired, because they don't have "good enough" players.
Greenberg: I would hold people more accountable within the structure today for grassroots and school programs. I think we have overreacted to the FBI investigation -- summer basketball, AAU, is not the evil empire. There's good and bad in every walk of life, and sometimes people make bad decisions. I'd rather see us look to keep the system in place. Not every AAU coach or program is a villain, and not every high school coach is a saint. We're trying to legislate that scholastic basketball is good and AAU isn't, but there's so much good done, and so much opportunity, from grassroots basketball.
Forget about the elite players. There are opportunities for young people for mid-majors, Division II, Division III, chances to continue to fulfill their dreams of playing college ball at whichever level and to get an education. Instead of trying to blow up the system, let's find a way to keep grassroots basketball where it is, but hold people more accountable for their actions and decisions within the confines of what we're doing today.
Dakich: I would let coaches see and visit players as often as they wanted. I think that getting to know players is huge in building relationships and stopping kids from transferring. I really think that the limits we put on coaches hinder things, like evaluating players properly and getting to know them, their families, and who they really are as people. To hell with it for coaches who want to do that work, who want to work harder than other coaching staffs. It might also even the playing field a little bit between the have and the have-nots in recruiting.