Aug. 1, 2012
The Tennessee basketball team leaves for Italy Sunday to play four games in 10 days while making stops in Rome, The Vatican City, Florence, Pisa, the Republic of San Marino, Lake Como and Milan. Preparations for this summer's trip not only include practices, strength training and conditioning, but include some study sessions of the International Basketball Federation - also known as FIBA - rules.
The rules by which the Volunteers must play while overseas are very similar to those that the United States National Teams currently abide by in the 2012 London Olympics.
Tennessee's coaches and players all have a few strategic adjustments to make that differ from standard NCAA basketball rules. The Vols must adapt to the FIBA rules, rather than the other way around, because the Italian officials who will call UT's four exhibition games are not familiar with NCAA rules.
Some of the primary rule differences to which the Vols must adjust include: FIBA format calls for four 10-minute periods, as opposed to NCAA format, which plays two 20-minute halves. In addition, FIBA courts are smaller than American collegiate courts. The international court measurements are 91'10" long by 49'2.5" wide, whereas American courts measure 94'x50'. The 3-point distance on a FIBA floor is 22'1.7", versus the NCAA's distance of 20'9". Also, the size of the lane on a FIBA court is 16' wide by 19' long, while the collegiate lane is 12'x19".
In addition to the court dimensions and distances, players will have to adjust to changes in violation times. According to FIBA rules, the shot clock will start at 24 seconds as opposed to the 35-second NCAA shot clock, and a backcourt violation will be called at eight seconds versus the traditional 10 seconds. The backcourt ruling also differs from the NCAA rule. The FIBA rule reads that once any part of a player touches frontcourt (crosses the mid-line), that player has frontcourt status. This contrasts the NCAA rule which states all three points player contact (two feet and the ball) must cross into the frontcourt.
The coaches also have a few additional adjustments. Vols head coach Cuonzo Martin and his assistants are the only ones who may request a timeout (players are not allowed), and they must do so by walking to the scorer's table and giving the appropriate hand gesture. In addition, the timeout length changes as well. During the Italy exhibitions, Martin will have two 60-second timeouts in the first half and three 60-second timeouts in the second half (unused timeouts do not carry over). The FIBA timeout guidelines are quite different from the NCAA rule, which allows for a total of four 75-second timeouts and two 30-second timeouts for an entire game (media timeouts are not accounted for).
Martin said he isn't overly concerned with his players adjusting to the differences in on-court dimensions or the shot clock. He did, however, state that he will stress two points of emphasis with the team. First, FIBA allows for a player to inbound a dead ball immediately - you are not required to wait for an official to set the ball. As such, he will instruct the Vols to get the ball inbounded and begin making their way up the court as quickly as possible.
Secondly, he will ensure that the Vols understand the differences in how FIBA officials call traveling. A player holding the ball who moves from a stationary stance and begins driving must dribble the ball before moving his feet. A failure to establish the dribble will consistently result in a traveling call.
Other Rule Changes of Interest:
- Number of Game Officials: Two officials (FIBA) vs. three officials (NCAA)
- Game Clock Stops: last two minutes of fourth period and overtime (FIBA) vs. last minute of second half and last minute of overtime (NCAA)
- Bonus Free Throws: Fifth foul per period (two FTs) and overtime fouls count from last period (FIBA) vs. seventh foul per half (one-and-one) and 10th foul per half (two FTs)
- Touch Ball On/Above Cylinder: Yes, it is allowed once the ball has made contact with the rim (FIBA) vs. No, goaltending (NCAA)