New season, new rules.

The Colonials will tip their season off in just a few more days –Friday November 13th at 6pm– against the Penn Quakers (yours truly will be in attendance, let me know if anyone else is coming out to Philadelphia).

The new season always brings plenty of new obstacles, new goals, new faces, new jersey’s (RMU’s new home white uniforms are pretty sweet) and this season, some new rule changes. Usually a season starts with very few changes to the rule book, or minor changes that don’t have a major effect on the game, but this year is different.

The first and most noticeable change…the shot clock is no longer 35 seconds. It has been reduced to 30 seconds in an effort to add more possessions to the game, and increase scoring. The second –more subtle– change is the charge circle, or restricted arc, being moved from three to four feet away from the basket.

Some other major changes include only four timeouts per-game (down from five) with only three carrying over into the second half. This was put in place to shorten the time of games and make the end of games move along with more flow. The defensive five second closely guarded call has also been removed from the game.

So will these changes be good for the sport? How will they affect the Colonials?

The answer to that first question will take time to answer, but I have a feeling most of these changes will range from good to great. I love some good defense but there are some putrid offensive numbers going on within the sport. The shot clock being reduced is a great move. 35 seconds was way too long. The charge circle is a great move too, as it should allow offensive players the right to attack the basket more freely, thus increasing scoring.

Anyone that has watched a close basketball game knows the end car be a complete slop fest. Foul, timeout, layup, foul, timeout. There is no flow, no rhythm. Taking a timeout away should clean some of this up, and let’s face it….coaches don’t need all those timeouts. There are already four built in media timeouts!

The one rule change that I do not like is the elimination of the five second call on closely guarded offensive players. To me, this takes away great defense. I’m all for helping offensive numbers increase, but I’m not sure this is the way to do it.

So now that second more important question, how will Robert Morris be affected by these changes?

Stewart should benefit from some of the new
rule changes. (Cortney Peasley) 
Let’s address some of the changes noted above. First off, the shot clock. I believe Robert Morris is well equip to handle this change. On offense, they have two very good ball handlers that can create offense late in the shot clock in Kavon Stewart and Rodney Pryor. Pryor is maybe the best one-on-one player in the NEC, and can score all over the court. This should help RMU adjust (though I would feel a lot better if Marcquise Reed was still around, as he was often RMU’s number one option late in the shot clock last year). Andy Toole is a great coach too, and will alter the offense with five less seconds to operate.

On the defensive end, the Colonials could really benefit. Their matchup style 2-3 zone would often force teams to pass the ball around the perimeter as they looked for the best shot possible. Take away five more seconds, and teams could struggle to penetrate the 2-3 zone. I would not be surprised if RMU (and their opponents) pressed a little more, even if it is a “soft press.” Teams will look to use this to bleed some of the shot clock giving the opposing offense even less time to operate.

I do think the five second rule cancellation will hurt RMU. The Colonials played a lot of man tight principles at the top of the zone, and trapped guys in the corner. While such a defensive maneuver will still be beneficial, the offensive player will no longer have a ticking clock to make a decision (other than the shot clock of course). Many coaches around the country do not like this change for this reason.

With the defensive arc being moved another foot out from under the basket, we will have to take a wait and see approach. Offensively, Robert Morris has only one guy that has proven he can attack the basket consistently and have success in Stewart. He should be able to avoid a few more charges and avoid contact when he does attack. It will remain to be seen if other guys will be able to use this rule to their advantage.

Defensively, the team plays zone which does a pretty good job of limiting penetration. With that said, RMU bigs have had trouble picking up fouls around the rim. They will need to avoid contact in that restricted arc (meaning if you want to take a charge, you can’t have a foot in the arc).

We’ll get our first look at Robert Morris Friday, and this is just one of many things to keep an eye on.

-Lee Kunkel



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