Tuesday, May 6, 2003

Proposed rule changes get lukewarm reception

Coaches: Leave the lane alone

By Dustin Dow
The Cincinnati Enquirer

College basketball would get a new look next season if the NCAA championship committee decides to move back the 3-point line and expand the lane.

The NCAA rules committee made those recommendations Monday, and the championship committee will decide next month whether to adopt the changes.

The recommendations include moving the 3-point line back 9 inches to 20 feet, 6 inches, and using the international trapezoid lane that widens from 12 feet at the top of the lane, to 19-8 3/4 at the bottom.

The 3-point line hasn't been altered since its introduction in 1986. The lane hasn't changed since it was widened from 6 feet to 12 in the 1950s.

"I like one and not the other," said Miami University coach Charlie Coles. "The 3-point (move) I like. Right now, you've got a defensive dilemma. If you have a big man that you have to double-down on, you leave people open for easy 3s.

"I don't like the lane being widened. It will hurt post play. Our big man play in the country is not very good right now. We're not developing post players. It would further take away from big men, and we'd have a European game."

For most coaches and players, envisioning a 3-point line less than a foot further out than the current one isn't very difficult.

"(Moving) the 3-point line I think is good," said Xavier coach Thad Matta. "It makes you earn the shot a little more."

A larger 3-point arch could also spread out offensive and defensive sets, allowing for more half-court movement, which in theory would increase scoring.

But predicting how the game would play out with a trapezoid lane is more problematic because it's so uncommon in American basketball. Matta and Coles said they have had limited exposure to the trapezoid lane. Because of that, Matta said he couldn't speak to its potential effectiveness.

University of Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins spoke out on the proposed changes in Sunday's Enquirer. He said he'd rather the committee left the game alone.

"I'm not for widening the lane," Huggins told the Enquirer. "We don't have post guys left anyway. It's not like everybody's got Shaq down there. I like our game better than the European game. I don't understand."


E-mail ddow@enquirer.com

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