MURRAY— The NCAA announced several rule changes on Wednesday, including a major move to the three-point line distance.
Per NCAA.com, “The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved moving the 3-point line to the international basketball distance of 22 feet, 1¾ inches in men’s basketball.” The previous distance was 20 feet, 9 inches.
“I think the biggest rule change is the three-point line going back to the international distance,” McMahon said. “I think the theory behind it is very good to open up the floor, more spacing, create more driving lanes for offensive players, and maybe open it up in the post a little bit more.”
While the expectation is a spread out floor, McMahon said he thinks you could potentially see the exact opposite happen with a few teams.
“The theory is good if you can shoot the basketball,” McMahon said. “If teams can’t shoot it, we could see a lot more packed in man-to-man defenses or more zone defenses. I think the other layer to it is for the first time, not as drastic as the NBA, but the corner three-point shot is actually closer than the rest of the arc.”
A team like Murray State is less likely to receive a negative impact from a change to the distance, but a team that struggles to shoot from the perimeter, like Jacksonville State or SIUE last year, could see some adverse effects as defenses adjust to the new line.
“I think it’s going to have a huge impact on the game. I think it’s going to eliminate some marginal shooters from taking those three-point shots,” McMahon said. “I think it’ll change some defensive strategies from coaches, but a lot of it will be wait and see how it plays out in November and December.”
With the change to the distance, there could also be a shift across the league to start putting a little more emphasis on finding sharpshooters that have superior range at the high school level. The current distance for a three-point shot in high school is 19 feet, 9 inches, so the adjustment for a shooter that is toeing the line versus a shooter that is already two to three feet behind the line on most shots will be drastically different.
“We always put a premium on three-point shooting and ability to stretch the floor there,” McMahon said. “We also try to put a premium on that from the defensive end of the floor in what we recruit as far as our perimeter defenders. So it really won’t change anything that we do.”
The NCAA stated that they wanted to lower the “prevalence” of the three-point shot and potentially reestablish an emphasis on the mid-range shot, but McMahon sees it otherwise.
“I think that’s silly rationale,” McMahon said. “I don’t expect that to change. I saw they were also trying to put more emphasis on the mid-range shot and I just don’t think this changes that. There’s just not a lot of return on your investment in the mid-range shot as compared to the three-point shot.”
A few other noteworthy changes were made on Wednesday as well, like the ability to call live ball timeouts from the sideline inside of two minutes, and a change to the time on a shot clock reset.
“I think the other one (rule change) that’s important is on an offensive rebound the shot clock is not going to reset to 30 seconds, it’ll just go back to 20, which I think is a good rule similar to the NBA where they go from 24 to 14,” McMahon said.
McMahon noted that the upside to this rule is that teams won’t be able to kill an entire minute late in a game on one rebound.
Once we reach the start of the season, all of the coaches will have a semblance of how they plan to run their offense and defense under the new rules, and specifically how they will play with the new longer distance.
“I think the biggest difference will be how coaches adjust,” McMahon said. “Do coaches believe opponents won’t be able to shoot the three as well and what I hope doesn’t happen, for the sake of the college game, is that defenses pack in more and more tight zone defense and just inviting average shooters to bomb 22 and 23-footers.”
It does appear to some as though the NCAA is headed in the right direction with these adjustments, and perhaps could mean a change to the NBA distance in the near future.
“I think all of the rule changes will be good for the game,” McMahon said.