BZ 022218 Weber State Eastern Washington Basketball 40-30

Weber State students cheer during a men's basketball game against Eastern Washington on Feb. 22, 2018, at the Dee Events Center.

The NCAA announced major changes to men’s college basketball Wednesday, altering the distance of the 3-point line for the first time in 11 years.

The men’s 3-point line is moving back nearly 1.5 feet from its existing arc at 20 feet, 9 inches, to the international line of 22 feet, 1 3/4 inches, for the 2019-20 season.

The NCAA’s stated goals for the change are to create more offensive spacing and room for dribble-drive plays while making the 3-pointer more challenging.

“Division I basketball attendance has really gone down over the last few years, all over the country. So they think the issue is it’s a bang-up game, not a lot of scoring, games in the 50s and 60s, so if you open it up and get it more exciting like the NBA then more people will watch,” Weber State head coach Randy Rahe said. “It will help spread the game out a little bit and create more scoring ... they want freedom of movement and anything that promotes more scoring is what they’re going to continue to do.”

It’s the first change to the men’s 3-point line since it was moved back one foot from 19 feet, 9 inches, ahead of the 2008-09 season. The national 3-point average dipped from 35.2% to 34.4% that season but, by 2017-18, was back up to 35.2%.

Rahe said his team has already been practicing with the new line.

“I’ve asked our guys about it. They say it takes a little bit to get used to finding that line but, once you find it, it’s not a huge difference,” Rahe said. “It might turn an adequate 3-point shooter into a little bit less of an adequate 3-point shooter but guys who can really shoot are going to be able to shoot it from that range. Our guys don’t seem to feel like it’s too big of a deal to adjust to it.”

The Weber State men shot a blistering 41.7% as a team in each of the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons, marks that were top three nationally, before shooting 36.4% (78th) last season.

Defensively, Rahe said it might bring a slight change to how teams play help defense or manage ball screens.

The rules committees for both men’s and women’s basketball also approved a rule that resets the shot clock to 20 seconds on an offensive rebound instead of the full 30 seconds. That’s the first shot-clock change since it was reduced from 35 seconds to 30 ahead of the 2015-16 season.

The women’s rules committee did not change the sport’s 3-point distance, saying it wants to “examine whether moving the line back to the distance of 22 feet, 1 3/4 inches will enhance the game,” according to a news release from the NCAA.

Rahe said the rules committee surveys all Division I coaches to gather feedback before voting on such changes.

NAU GETS A NEW COACH

Northern Arizona surprisingly changed basketball head coaches this week when Jack Murphy left to become associate head coach at the University of Arizona.

NAU named assistant coach Shane Burcar as the interim head coach for the upcoming season.

Murphy was 78-149 in seven seasons at NAU, going 2-12 against Weber State.

NAU is the third Big Sky school to change coaches this offseason. Idaho State and Montana State each declined to sign new contracts with Bill Evans and Brian Fish, respectively, and hired Danny Sprinkle and Ryan Looney.

WSU FOOTBALL RANKINGS

Minor college football preseason polls for the 2019 FCS season have been rolling out and Weber State is finding itself highly ranked. Street & Smith ranked WSU at No. 6, Athlon at No. 9 and HERO Sports at No. 11.

The two major polls used during the season (STATS and coaches polls) will release their preseason rankings closer to the season.

Contact Brett Hein at bhein@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter @bhein3/@WeberHQ and at facebook.com/WeberStateSports.

Brett Hein is the sports editor and covers Weber State sports for the Standard-Examiner.

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