John Locher / AP
Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
For the National Invitation Tournament, the Colorado Buffaloes will have to play a slightly different brand of college basketball than they are accustomed to.
As part of an experiment designed to test the waters of changing men’s college basketball from a game played in two 20-minute halves to four 10-minute quarters, the NIT will operate in a format that meshes the two approaches.
While the NIT still will be played in 20-minute halves, the team foul counts and ensuing foul shots instead will mimic the women’s game, which moved to four-quarter games before the 2015-16 season.
Beginning with the fifth-seeded Buffs’ first-round date Wednesday night at Central Florida, CU will play under modified foul and free throw rules that could alter coaching strategies, particularly at the end of games.
The NIT games will be broken down into 10-minute segments, with each team allowed four fouls per segment before sending the opposing team to the free throw line beginning with the fifth team foul. While the game clock will continue to run, each team’s foul count will reset to zero after hitting the 10-minute mark of each half.
Beginning with the fifth team foul of each 10-minute segment, opponents will shoot two free throws instead of the typical one-and-the bonus. If a game goes to overtime each team’s fouls again reset to zero, with the two free throws starting again with the fourth team foul.
Individual foul totals will not reset throughout the course of the games.
“It will be interesting,” CU coach Tad Boyle said. “No one-and-one. As many front ends of one-and-ones we’ve missed, it’s probably a good thing.
“I like the fact that they’re experimental, to see what works and what doesn’t. I think they’re reluctant to do (four quarters) but I’ll have a lot better feel after this. They’re not doing quarters, but they’re going to reset (fouls). The gist is the same. You’re getting rid of the one-and-one, which I don’t like. I like the one-and-one because it puts a premium on that first shot. I think that’s what we need to get a little more pressure at the end of those games than you have without the one-and-one.”
The NIT format of fouls and free throws has been used in women’s basketball the past two seasons. CU women’s coach JR Payne said the learning curve was an adjustment at first, but two seasons later she doesn’t want the women’s game to ever return to the old format.
“The fouls didn’t really seem to change much. When we are down and we need to foul, we’re fouling. It didn’t change anything,” Payne said. “If you’re a poor free throw shooting team you’re guaranteed two shots at it instead of the one-and-one. But strategically it didn’t change much. I love it. I can’t imagine going back. It’s hard for me to watch men’s games. I like that we have a couple more timeouts at the end of quarters. I like the ability to coach them more in the moment in the game.”
One other rules adaptation in play for the NIT involves dead-ball situations in the front court. If the defending team commits a non-shooting foul with the shot clock under 20 seconds, the shot clock will be reset to 20 seconds instead of the full 30. If that foul occurs with the shot clock between 21 and 30 seconds, the clock will not be adjusted.
“You hope to not have to be fouling, but it’s a little different,” CU guard Derrick White said. “We’re going to have to adjust, but it’s an adjustment for them too. It’s an experiment so we’ll see how it goes.”