They got it half-right.
That’s what the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel accomplished by moving basketball’s 3-point line back from 20 feet, 9 inches to the international basketball standard of 22 feet, 13/4 inches.
It was a change whose time had come.
The problem is this same panel air-balled the other necessary rule change. Namely, to widen the collegiate lane from 12 feet to the international (and NBA) width of 16 feet.
Considering the stated goal was to increase freedom of movement, open up the game for more drives to the rim, improve spacing offensively and to remove congestion in the lane … well, the panel missed the team bus.
What this committee apparently didn’t realize is these two measures go hand-in-hand if the desired goal is indeed opening up the floor.
But, instead, the panel settled for halfway success.
What a shame.
“I thought the 3-point line was going to be definite,” said Marshall University coach Danny D’Antoni. “And I thought the lane widening was going to be definite but, then, I didn’t hear it being mentioned. At one time, I thought they were going to be a package.”
They should have been.
“I hoped they would both go,” said D’Antoni. “But I didn’t hear much about the lane widening. They think that moving the 3-point line back will cut down on the 3-point shooting and the value of the 3-point shot, which I don’t. But they do.
“So, they did that and, then, they forgot the lane went right with it.”
That was a large lapse in judgment.
“I think all the heads of the NBA,” said D’Antoni, “and people who are interested in basketball want to see it be a game that people love to come and watch. I think they all understand by doing this they’re trying to create the scenario, really, that we [at Marshall] play. It’s kind of clean up everything in the lane and get the physicality out of it, in and around the basket, and have it more free-flow.
“So, the line moving back a little bit will force shooters back a bit further, which forces the defense out a little bit further. Then, if they had widened the lane and those big boys can’t just stand down there like they want to, you are almost forcing coaches ... well, it really just makes posting up a little more difficult.”
There’s nothing wrong with making big men become more complete players.
“If they had widened the lane,” said D’Antoni, “there would have been a lot more mid-post play than actual block play. So, you’ve got to teach your big men to pass and get into different parts of the game, other than just trying to play what I used to call, ‘Carmelo [Anthony] playing bully ball.’
“You’re going to have to have some skills to get it done. The more skilled they are the better. And, I think, the better the game flows.”
D’Antoni is just glad the panel got it half-right.
“I think moving the 3-point line back is a great idea,” he said. “Some teams may struggle to shoot the 3 a little bit. I don’t think we will because we approach the game a little differently.”
It’s just a shame it wasn’t a package deal.
“I thought they would do the 3-point line,” said D’Antoni, “and the lane to make it uniform.”
It’s just a matter of time.