While most of the headlines from the annual SEC spring meetings in Destin, Florida concerned football, there was some basketball discussed as well. With the rules committee proposing a number of changes earlier this month, college basketball programs in 2015-16 will have some adjustments to make.
One of those adjustments (if approved) is playing with a 30-second shot clock, which was used in the CBI, CIT and NIT in March. A shorter shot clock will increase the number of possessions within a game, but that isn’t a guarantee that scoring will increase. One area that needs to be addressed in that regard is the amount of contact that teams are allowed to get away with, and for Kentucky head coach John Calipari there are some questions to be answered when it comes to how consistent the officiating will be.
According to CBSSports.com Calipari noted that the game has “gotten way too rough,” and he also brought up the fact that freedom of movement was a point of emphasis two years ago only for things to go back to the way they were when conference play rolled around.
“Here’s what the question will be: How long will they keep calling the fouls?” Calipari said. “Two years ago, we started this and then no one had the stomach for it. The teams that advanced in the NCAA Tournament that year fouled on every possession. So then we all — me included — went back to football practice. ‘That’s it. Put helmets on. Let’s go. That stuff was a bunch of BS.’ And by the end of the year, that’s how we played and basically made it to the Final Four playing football.”
Freedom of movement was once again mentioned this spring, but the conversation means little if there isn’t consistent enforcement. While that will ultimately fall upon the officials and their supervisors, understanding from players, coaches, media and fans will be needed as well.
A common complaint two years ago was that games took too long due to the increased number of foul calls, and there were some games in which the number of fouls called reached a “ridiculous” level. The complaints grew, and eventually teams were getting away with as much contact in areas such as bumping cutters as they were before.
That can’t occur if officials are to emphasize freedom of movement again in 2015-16, regardless of how loud the complaints become. Players and coaches are more than capable of adjusting, something Calipari noted at the meetings, but if there isn’t consistency in enforcing these rules they won’t adjust at all. Shortening the shot clock is the “easy” solution, and it’s one that doesn’t force teams to change all that much.
But if there’s to be a true impact on the efficiency of offenses and how many points are put on the board, ensuring that there’s freedom of movement will be key.