Richard Barron has an affinity for the international brand of basketball.
Much of his recruiting, first as the women’s head basketball coach and now as the men’s head basketball coach at the University of Maine, has attracted players from around the world to the Orono campus.
He’s also a fan of the rulebook employed by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), the world’s governing body for the sport.
“I’d love to see us go completely to FIBA rules with quarters and ball advancement at the end of regulation and resetting the fouls with each quarter,” Barron said. “I’d like to see all of that come into play.
“It’s an international game. We can’t hold onto it and just say we play it differently. We’re going to have to adjust or the game’s going to pass us by.”
Slowly, that adjustment may be happening. The NCAA has approved moving its 3-point line for men’s college basketball from 20 feet, 9 inches, back to 22 feet, 1 3/4 inches, the same distance used in FIBA play.
The NBA 3-point line extends as far as 23 feet, 9 inches from the center of the hoop. High school courts have a 3-point arc located 19 feet, 9 inches from the basket.
“I don’t think it’s a huge change, but I do think it helps the game,” Barron said. “The value of the 3-point shot needs to be a shot that’s more difficult because obviously you’re given 50 percent more points for that shot. The degree of difficulty needs to be appropriately measured.
The new college distance is only 1 foot, 4 3/4 inches farther from the basket than under the old rule.
“Also, the spacing of the floor gets better so people will be able to stretch the floor a little more when staying behind that line because of the value of that shot.”
The 3-point line change will apply to NCAA Division I men’s basketball beginning next season, then come into play in Divisions II and III starting with the 2020-21 campaign.
The 20-9 distance had been the rule since 2008 in NCAA men’s basketball, but college officials studied a potential change in recent years with three goals in mind: making the lane more available for dribble penetration, requiring defenses to cover more of the court and slowing the trend of the 3-pointer becoming too prevalent by making it more challenging while keeping the shot as an integral offensive weapon.
Division I teams took only 16 percent of their shots from beyond the arc when the 3-pointer was introduced at that level during the 1986-87 season. By 2017-18, teams took 37.5 percent of their shots from 3-point land.
UMaine was right on that national average last winter, taking 647 of its 1,728 field-goal attempts from the 3-point arc (37.4 percent). The Black Bears made 201 of those, 31.1 percent, which ranked last in the nine-team America East.
The international distance for the 3-point shot was used on an experimental basis during the last two National Invitational Tournaments. Results from the 2019 event showed that teams took more 3-point attempts but shot a slightly lower percentage than they had during the regular season.
“After gathering information over the last two seasons, we feel it’s time to make the change,” said Tad Boyle, NCAA men’s basketball committee chairman and the coach at the University of Colorado. “Freedom of movement in the game remains important, and we feel this will open up the game. We believe this will remove some of the congestion on the way to the basket.”
Another NCAA men’s basketball rule change will reset the shot clock to 20 seconds after a field-goal attempt hits the rim and the offensive team rebounds the ball in the frontcourt.
The shot clock previously was reset to the full 30 seconds in those situations. The change is similar to the NBA’s practice of re-setting its 24-second shot clock to 14 seconds after the offensive rebound of a shot that hits the rim.
“I don’t think it will have a big effect, but I do think it makes sense, especially late in the game,” Barron said. “You can run plenty of good offense in 20 seconds. It’s not necessary to have that extra 10 seconds, that’s the 10 seconds you have to bring the ball up the floor and across half-court, and here you obviously already have the ball in the frontcourt.”
Two other rule changes for the upcoming season address late-game situations.
Coaches now may call live-ball timeouts in the final two minutes of regulation or overtime. And instant replay will be allowed on a basket interference or goaltending call during the final two minutes of regulation or overtime.
Under another rule change, players will be assessed a technical foul and ejected if they use derogatory language aimed at an opponent regarding race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability.