Boise State men’s basketball coach Leon Rice was boarding a flight home from a trip to Hawaii on Wednesday when he spoke glowingly about the NCAA adopting a longer 3-point line for next season.
He knows the positive impact it will have on his team.
The NCAA announced Wednesday that the 3-point line for Division I games will move back 16 ¾ inches next season, from the current 20 feet, 9 inches to the international distance of 22 feet, 1 ¾ inches.
“It separates the pretenders from the guys that can really shoot because I think that line was too friendly for nonshooters,” Rice told the Idaho Press. “I think it definitely helps us, especially with the way our team is built. We don’t just have tiny little guys that can barely get it there.
“We have some elite level guys like Justinian Jessup and Derrick Alston that were never really impacted by the line and can back it up without having to change much.”
Boise State’s offense has long been reliant on the 3-point shot, with 40 percent of their total shot attempts last season coming from behind the 3-point arc. The Broncos shot 35.2 percent from 3-point range last season, which was ahead of the NCAA average of 34.4 percent.
The Broncos averaged 7.6 made 3-pointers per game last season.
The rule was adopted to make the 3-point shot harder, but also to open up more of the middle of the lane by forcing defenses to defend further away from the basket.
Other rules approved Wednesday include the shot clock only resetting to 20 seconds instead of 30 on an offensive rebound when the shot hits the rim. Coaches will also now be able to call timeouts while the ball is live during the last two minutes of the second half and overtime, and instant replay reviews will be allowed for goaltending or basket interference calls in the final two minutes of the second half and overtime.
Players also will be assessed technical fouls for using derogatory language towards an opponent’s race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability.
“I think they are all terrific,” Rice said. “The 20-second rule is great. We got to experiment with them in the NIT those two years and I really thought they were good and for the good of the game.”
Rice tried to call timeouts in the final seconds of losses to New Mexico and Nevada, but was unable to due to the previous rule. He would have been granted timeouts under the new rule.
“I like that one too,” Rice said. “That was frustrating because we’d always done it the other way, and when you’re playing on the road and the kids can’t hear you to call timeout, it made it tough.”
Rice declined comment on losing assistant coach Chris Acker to Mountain West rival San Diego State, saying he’d address the situation at a later time. The Broncos are searching for an assistant coach to replace Acker, who left for the Aztecs on Sunday.