Tuesday, April 29, 2003

College hoops could get facelift this week

By The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS - College basketball teams may have to contend with wider lanes, longer 3-pointers and more replays on game-winning shots as early as next season.

The NCAA men's basketball rules committee begins three days of meetings Tuesday in Indianapolis. The most significant proposals would be those most visible to fans and players - changing the lines on the court.

The committee is considering expanding the college lane from 12 feet to either the NBA distance of 16 feet or the trapezoid that is used in international competition.

It also will debate extending the 3-point line from 19 feet, 9 inches to the international standard of 20 feet, 6 inches.

"As far as the lane, I think the committee will make some kind of decision," said Edward Bilik, the committee's secretary rules editor. "I'm not sure about the 3-point line."

If the committee recommends changes this week, the NCAA championship committee would still have to approve them in June.

Discussion about wider lanes and longer 3-pointers have been discussed for years, but Bilik believes this week's meetings could produce a vote, although he is uncertain if either will pass.

One committee member, South Carolina coach Dave Odom, believes more study is needed before implementing any changes.

"I think the consensus is leaning more toward the trapezoidal lane than the NBA lane," Odom said. "I'd be in favor of experimenting with that."

The wider lanes have been used in exempt games such as the Maui Invitational for several years. The NCAA experimented with the trapezoid three years ago and has used the NBA-style lane the last two seasons.

Bilik believes three years is long enough to determine if a change would help reduce the rugged inside play that some coaches have complained about.

"There has been a concern that it has become a game of the weight room rather than a game of skill," Bilik said. "I think the committee would rather it be a game of skill."

The future of the 3-point line, adopted in 1986, is even less certain.

Last season was the first time the NCAA required exempt games to be played with the 3-pointer at the international distance, so the committee could opt for another year of experimentation.

Statistics collected from 25 exempt games and 25 randomly selected regular-season games this year indicated a longer distance had little affect on teams.

Teams shot 34 percent from the longer 3-point line, compared with 35 percent at the shorter distance, and teams actually took more shots (902-870) from the international line. There was a 5 percent margin of error in the sampling.

Odom has another problem, though.

"Every year we talk about moving it back, and every year it seems like shooting percentages go down a couple hundred points," he said. "Why should we move it back if kids aren't making them from where it is?"

Statistics also showed the wider lane produced no significant changes in offensive or defensive rebounds off missed free throws or a higher rate of violations or fouls on free throws.

But it did have an inadvertent effect. Coaches responded in their questionnaires that it opened up the offense by creating more space for players to drive through.

If the recommendations are approved this week, the changes could take effect as early as next season. The implementation could be delayed, however, by costs or if schools are unable to reconfigure their floors in time for next season.

"They could do anything," said Marty Benson, the NCAA rules committee liaison. "They could vote on the two proposals together, or they could decide to do one or the other."

The committee also will consider an expansion in the use of television replay at the end of games, something Odom favors after losing a game that could have been changed by replay.

Current rules allow replay only to be used for determining whether a shot was off before the game clock expired.

Following a controversial ending to an Oklahoma-Oklahoma State game last year, the committee will consider adding shot-clock violations, goaltending or offensive interference, and whether a player was fouled in the act of a 3-pointer or a 2-pointer on game-winners for review.

Odom believes if changes are made, they will be minimal.

"I think this is a very cautious committee," he said.


Senior guard Amy Waugh has been named an honorable mention All-American by www.womenscollegehoops.com. This season Waugh led the nation with 3.6 3-pointers per game and led the Atlantic 10 with 19.0 points per game.

She was named first-team A-10 all-conference, all-tournament and all-academic team. In addition to those A-10 honors, Waugh was named a finalist for the Rotary Club of Detroit Nancy Lieberman Award and was listed as a top-5 point guard by www.ESPN.com.

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