Musselman in favor of uniform rules across basketball

By: Scottie Bordelon
Published: Wednesday, May 13, 2020
Arkansas coach Eric Musselman talks to the team during an NCAA college basketball game against Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020. (Bruce Newman/The Oxford Eagle via AP)
Arkansas coach Eric Musselman talks to the team during an NCAA college basketball game against Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020. (Bruce Newman/The Oxford Eagle via AP)

— Arkansas men’s basketball coach Eric Musselman stated his case for uniform rules across the board at all levels of basketball on Wednesday.

In an interview on Halftime with host Phil Elson, the radio play-by-play voice of Arkansas baseball and women’s basketball broadcasts, Musselman said the college game on the men’s side needs to be willing to adapt and needs more rules like the NBA enforces.

“That’s where the players eventually want to get to,” Musselman said. “When I go watch (Arkansas women's basketball coach Mike) Neighbors’ team play, they have four quarters. The NBA has four quarters. Why does men’s basketball not have four quarters?

“I wish that all of us could get to as close as possible from men’s basketball and women’s basketball, both on the WNBA side and the NBA side and collegiately and then have the high schools follow suit.”

Musselman noted that the more uniform rules are, the easier it would be to attract fans to the game rather than confuse them.

In addition to women’s college basketball, the WNBA and NBA, and high schools nationwide use a four-quarter format, while men’s college basketball plays two halves.

On top of the differences in format, the men’s college game does not institute a rule that affords teams with possession the option to advance the ball to the frontcourt following a timeout in the final minute of regulation or overtime.

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved the rule for women's college basketball in 2015. The NBA, where Musselman spent three seasons as a head coach and several more as an assistant, has had such a rule for several years.

“The advancement of the ball in late-game (situations) only makes the game better,” Musselman said. “It gives the offense a better chance to score. The defense now has to guard closer to the rim and there’s more strategy than inbounding the ball with four seconds to go and going the length of the floor.

“It really turns into luck as opposed to being able to get your team in a huddle, diagram something with two, three different options, and with four seconds to go on a side out, you can have two, three different options. To me, it’s nonsense that we don’t have uniform rules.”

Even high schools are reluctant to change, he noted.

Earlier this week, the National Federation of State High School Associations did not approve a shot clock for high school basketball. The Arkansas Activities Association did approve a 35-second shot clock for its largest classification, Class 6A, for the next three years.

According to USA Today, eight states - New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Washington, California, Maryland, North Dakota and South Dakota - use a shot clock in high school basketball.

Musselman said the issue lies with those on rules committees not reaching out to and talking with coaches who have experience on both sides of various rules.

“You can’t go talk to a college coach that’s been coaching at a college institution for 25 years and ask him about advancing the ball,” he added. “I can already tell you what they’re going to say. You need to go talk to the coaches that have coached under both umbrellas.”

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