The NCAA has approved three rules changes to be implemented this coming fall, they include: clarification of block-charge calls similar to the NBA by instituting a restricted area; determining who can shoot free throws after an injury; and the expanded use of video replay for flagrant fouls. The first and third changes are pretty self-evident. The second change now states that the opposing coach is the one who selects from the four players remaining on the court to shoot free-throws instead of the shooting team's coach. My understanding is that this rule has been in place in the NBA and FIBA for a couple of years now but I'm pretty sure most high schools use the old rule. I'm still a little conflicted on the rule, which way to go, so I thought I would flush it out a bit.

The rule change stems from the perception that teams can get an unfair advantage when a fouled player is injured. In a real life situation, just this past season, Missouri beat Marquette when some claimed that an injury substitution for free-throws gave Mizzou an unfair advantage late in the game. The old rule was that the shooting team's coach could select any player on the team -- including from the bench -- to shoot the free throws. Naturally, the shooting team's coach will select the player who shoots free-throws best to replace the injured player.

You can probably see where this goes. Here's a hypothetical: close game, 2 minutes left in the game, team A fouls team B's Shaq. Shaq pretends to be injured, coach subs in Steve Nash, Nash hits both free throws, Team B calls timeout, subs Shaq back in the game.

Now, the only reason why team's would "fake" the injury is because of the loophole. Other than the Mizzou/Marquette game, I can't remember that many instances that this situation came up, but obviously enough times that the NCAA felt the need to change the rule. With the opposing team's coach now selecting the free-throw shooter, will it prevent a team from "faking" it? If you had a Shaq on your team, it would still be an advantage for just about anyone else to shoot, and the other 4 players still on the floor are likely to be good free-throw shooters. What are some of the other possible alternatives:

- opposing team's coach picks anyone on the shooting team's roster including players from the bench (fairer, but could be slightly unfair for shooting team)
- shooting team's coach picks one of the four players on the court (maybe still unfair fouling team if say Steve Nash is on the floor)
- no free throws awarded, but shooting team gets to inbound the ball (unfair towards the shooting team, especially if there are only seconds left in the game)

Another measure they could take to prevent "faking" would be to say that the injured player cannot re-enter the game until at least one basketball sequence has taken place. So that, the shooting team cannot call a timeout after making the free-throws and subbing Shaq back in.


  1. Andrew  

    June 9, 2009 at 3:06 PM

    My understanding was that in the NBA, if you can't take your free throws, you can't come back in the game. I'm not sure if that applies in the NCAA also, but that should prevent teams from doing the hypothetical you presented.