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THE GRAND EXPERIMENT
In hopes of reversing the trend toward low scoring in college basketball—scoring has declined for seven straight years, reaching a three-decade low of 135.08 combined points per game last season—the NCAA is allowing conferences to experiment during the 1982-83 season with a shot clock meant to combat widespread stall-ball tactics. As an antidote to zone defenses, similar experiments with a three-point field goal are also planned. Experiment, by the way, is just the right word for it. As things now stand, three conferences have adopted both shot clocks and three-point field goals. Four have gone for three-pointers only. Four will use clocks only. The three-point circle will range from 19 feet to 21'3" from the basket. The time on the shot clocks will be either 30 or 45 seconds; some will operate the entire game, others only until the last four or five minutes.
Edward Steitz, the secretary of the NCAA basketball rules committee, defends these variations as an ideal way of determining which rules will work best. But critics fear that the lack of standardization could cause chaos, and the National Association of Basketball Coaches accordingly plans to take up the disparity in rules at a special convention called for that and other purposes next week in Chicago. The association's president, Long Beach State Coach Tex Winter, says he hopes the NCAA committee can be persuaded to impose "some standardization" on the rules lest they "create havoc among coaches, fans and media."
In considering the issue, the NCAA rulemakers might be interested in the outcome of the Cavalier Classic, a recent benefit game in Charlottesville, Va. between teams consisting of former University of Virginia players. The Atlantic Coast Conference, where the trend toward stall ball and low scoring has been especially pronounced, has adopted a 19-foot three-point circle and a 30-second shot clock for all but the final four minutes, and those rules were in force during the game, which featured a remarkable 19 three-point field goals. Admittedly, the teams weren't playing much defense, but some players suggested that 19 feet, which is nearly five feet shorter in some spots than the NBA distance, wasn't enough. "It's a joke," said ex-Cavalier Jeff Lamp, an NBA rookie last season with Portland. "So many people can shoot it from 19 that it defeats the purpose of the three-point play." Ah, yes, Jeff, but just think how wickedly un-ACCish the game proved to be. Final score: 128-126.
CALLING SAM SPADE
Dialogue from the Pacific Coast League:
Tim Tolman, Tucson Toro batter, trying to convince Umpire Jim Joyce that a pitch from Hawaii Islander Pitcher Steve Fireovid entitled him to be awarded first base: "It hit me in the foot."
Joyce, examining the baseball for a telltale trace of black shoe polish: "I don't see anything. Get back in the box."
Tolman: "In case you hadn't noticed, I'm wearing white shoes."