I watched more NIT basketball last night than I had in my entire adult life leading up to this point, and I did it with one goal in mind: to serve you. Kind of.
The NIT is the crucible wherein the NCAA tests potential new rules. This year, there are four experimental rules in play: a deeper arc, a wider lane, a shorter shot clock after offensive boards, and a completely different approach to the bonus. Click below and scroll down for more in-depth explanations.
With the caveat that I hadn't spent much time watching many of the teams in play last night over the course of the year, here's what I got out of it.
The width of the lane thing seemed to be a non-issue. Guys generally know how to get their angles anyway, and not many players are camping deep before a catch. Guys who flash for good position aren't lingering, and guys who linger generally are comfortable catching high and working in anyway. I couldn't see it making a huge difference last night.
I didn't like the new bonus structure at all. You're shooting common fouls, then you aren't, then you are again, then everybody is. Also, I like the 1-and-1. Pressure free throws are fun. I think imperfect execution from the line down the stretch is part of what makes college basketball a blast to watch, and the bonus thing took away from it a bit for me.
I did enjoy the 20 second reset on the shot clock after an offensive rebound. Teams got the ball, regrouped quickly, and went back at it. As much fun as it has been to watch Xavier milk clock the last six weeks, an offensive rebound leading right into another action made for good viewing.
The three-point line moving back 20" definitely felt like the biggest change. Every three felt like a bomb; you almost have to be in rhythm to knock a 22-foot jump shot. That's a long way to shoot off of straight legs, and it seemed to make more of a difference in the half court than it did in transition. Overall, it felt like guys who have a spot and know how to run to it and get their footwork were ready to go, but dudes who aren't shooters can struggle with the new depth. Also, corner threes are now shorter than regular threes, which is a situation to monitor, especially on post kick outs.
I think Xavier's bigs are mobile enough to adjust to the wide lane with little problem. Hanky has weird range on his jump hook, and I don't worry about Tyrique's ability to work in a little more space. The three-point arc will be a hurter for X though. The Muskies have about one guy who I trust launching long threes; if Xavier needs to shoot themselves back into a game for 22 feet away... eesh.