An interesting decision has been made by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) for girls and boys basketball next school year.
This past Monday, the NFHS approved a rule change (Rule 4-8-1) for both sports to shoot two free throws when they are in the “bonus.”
However, “in the bonus” will now occur after the fifth foul instead of the seventh personal foul.
Previously, a team would shoot a one-and-one after the seventh foul and up to the 10th personal foul, which would be two shots the remainder of that half once in the “double bonus.”
In other words, there will no longer be a one-and-one free throw. You get two free throws.
Plus, teams will now reach the bonus when their opponent commits five fouls in each quarter. Team fouls will reset at the end of each quarter, instead of carrying a team’s total fouls over into the next quarter.
This will begin taking place with the start of the 2023-24 season.
Area coaches weighed in on the new rule. Some were indifferent, while others saw the new rule change as good and bad for the game.
“I don’t like the new rule because I think it will slow the game down, and kids are being rewarded for being poor shooters,” said new Buchholz coach Elliot Harris, who led Santa Fe (Alachua) to a Class 4A state runner-up finish two years ago.
Harris also thinks that the JV games will be longer because they tend to foul more.
“This is going to cause more work for officials and as a result they will ask for more money,” he said.
Willie Powers, who led the P.K. Yonge girls basketball team to within one game of the final four this past year, said teams will have to adjust.
“It is what it is,” Powers said. “We’re going to have to play with it. I think the games are going to go longer, especially in the girls rim because two shots takes a long time. What can you do? Try not to foul five times in a quarter.”
Powers does like that the number of fouls will be reset after each quarter.
“I kind of like that because you can get four and then get four in the next quarter,” he said. “It will work out. But I do think it’s going to affect games in the fourth quarter because now everything is two shots after five fouls. There’s no more tension with one-and-one’s so basically we’re just teaching them you’re going to have to work on free throws.”
Hawthorne boys basketball coach Greg Bowie, who led the Hornets to their second straight state semifinal appearance before losing a heartbreaker to Chipley, does see part of the rule change as being a positive.
“I don’t think it will have a major impact on the game,” he said. “Sometimes there aren’t five fouls in a quarter. I like the fact the fouls will start over each quarter because that allows you to continue to be aggressive.”
Class 1A Coach of the Year Jim Ervin, who led Williston to its first boys basketball state title in program history, sees it another way.
“It will change our coaching strategy at the end of games, but when the shot clocks go into effect the following year it will all equal out,” Ervin said. “Change is good at times but some things are better left alone.”
Overall, Gainesville boys basketball coach Mike Barnes likes the rule change.
“For our players to develop and be more ready for college ball and beyond, I think all levels should have the same rules,” he said. “I feel this will be a positive change. Now, we just need to institute the shot clock to really bring the high school game in Florida up to speed.”
But Barnes, who led the Hurricanes to their first district title since 2018, does see pros and cons.
“I like the fact that you aren’t penalized for a whole half if your team is fouling too much,” he said. “The downside is, if you are losing and want to foul to get the other team on the foul line, you don’t have that chance for an opponent to miss the front end of a one-and-one.”
Harris, like Powers, said it will be an adjustment.
“I think it will negatively impact the game and make games longer,” Harris said. “However, there may be times when teams never reach the bonus. Ultimately, the rule has changed and as coaches we will need to adjust and put our team in the best position to win.”
Other approved rules changes include:
- Rule 2-1-3 establishes the official placement of a shot clock operator at the scorer’s table for those states utilizing the shot clock.
- Rule 3-4-5 clarifies that multiple styles of uniform bottoms may be worn by teammates, but they must all be like-colored and adhere to uniform rules outlined in Rule 3-6-2 regarding logos and trademarks.
- Rule 3-5-6 addresses undershirts and allows teams to wear a single solid color or solid black for visiting teams with dark jerseys. This provides an opportunity for schools with hard-to-find colors to have all players wear a black undershirt.
- Rule 9-3-3 was amended to allow a player to step out of bounds and return to the court if the player gains no advantage. A player is penalized only if, after returning inbounds, the player is the first to touch the ball or avoids a violation.
A complete listing of the basketball rules changes will be available on the NFHS website at www.nfhs.org. Click on “Activities & Sports” at the top of the home page and select “Basketball.”
According to the 2021-22 NFHS High School Athletics Participation Survey, basketball is the third-most popular high school sport for boys with 521,616 participants in 18,428 schools nationwide. It is the fourth-most popular girls sport with 370,466 participants in 17,901 schools.