Mayer: You gotta play by the rules ... here they are

By Bill Mayer, Contributing Editor

Sunday, April 6, 2003

You think you know college basketball?  If you can stand a little humbling, review some of the rules that have been installed since inventor James Naismith cranked out the 13 originals in 1891 at Springfield, Mass. Boy, did I feel inadequate.

Following are some of the more interesting developments along with how Kansas folks sometimes figured in their emergence:

1894-95 -- The free-throw line was moved from 20 to 15 feet.

1895-96 -- A field goal changed from three to two points and free throws went from three points to one.

1896-97 -- Backboards were installed.

1913-14 -- The bottom of the net was left open (honest).

1920-21 -- A player could re-enter the game once. Before, if a player left, he could not re-enter. Backboards were moved two feet from the wall of the court. Before, players would "climb" the padded wall to sink baskets.

1923-24 -- The fouled player had to shoot his own free throws. Before, one person often shot them all.

1930-31 -- The maximum circumference of the ball was reduced from 32 to 31 inches, the maximum weight from 23 to 22 ounces. By 1939, the circumference was stabilized at 31 inches.

1932-33 -- The 10-second center line was introduced to cut stalling. No player with the ball could stand in the free-throw lane more than three seconds.

1933-34 -- A player could re-enter the game twice.

1935-36 -- No player could remain in the free-throw lane with or without the ball more than three seconds.

1937-38 -- The center jump after every goal was eliminated.

1939-40 -- Teams were given the choice of whether to take a free throw or take the ball out of bounds at mid-court. If two or more free throws were awarded, this option applied to the last throw. The backboards were moved from two to four feet from the end line. (KU flashback: Coach Phog Allen periodically had his players use the out-of-bounds replacement for a free throw. His notion was that a foul is a mistake and that a team should not profit from a foul. He kept records to show that his team made more points with the take-outs instead of free throws in given situations.)

1940-41 -- Fan-shaped backboards were legalized.

1944-45 -- Defensive goaltending was introduced -- when it was obvious that Oklahoma A&M seven-footer Bob Kurland could swat away many basket attempts by "jamming the hole." (Even so, A&M with All-American Kurland won the 1945 and 1946 NCAA titles.) Players were allowed five personal fouls but no extra foul for overtime. Unlimited substitution was introduced.

1946-47 -- Transparent backboards were legalized.

1948-49 -- Surprise! For the first time, coaches were allowed to speak to players during a timeout. (KU flashback: Phog Allen got around this by relaying advice to players via trainer Dean Nesmith, a former KU footballer. Dean could pass along a few tips while toweling off the Jayhawks and supplying them with water.)

1952-53 -- Teams could no longer waive free throws in favor of out-of-bounds play. (KU flashback: By then, Kansas had good free-throw shooters and profited more from shots than take-outs.) The one-and-one free throw rule was also introduced but the bonus came only if the first shot was missed.

1954-55 -- The one-and-one free throw was changed so the bonus shot was given only if the first shot was made. Games were changed back to 20-minute halves. Ten-minute quarters had been installed in 1951-52.

1956-57 -- Offensive goal-tending was banned. (KU flashback: Call it the Wilt Chamberlain rule. Bill Russell had been a master "funneler" in 1955 and 1956 and when it was obvious Chamberlain could be as good as or better than Russell, the offensive ban occurred.) More anti-Wilt: A ball that passed over the backboard, either front to back or back to front, was out of bounds. (That eliminated tossing the ball in-bounds over the backboard so Chamberlain could grab it and dunk. Further, a player had to be behind the free-throw line until he took his foul shot. Chamberlain, a marginal free-thrower, had indicated he would broad-jump from the free-throw line and dunk his shots. Kansas State's Tex Winter led the charge for the no-dunk free throw.)

1964-65 -- Coaches were to remain seated on the bench except while the clock was stopped or to direct or encourage players on the court. The goal was to keep coaches from inciting undesirable crowd reactions toward the officials.

1967-68 -- The dunk shot was made illegal during the game or warmups (UCLA's Lew Alcindor could not dunk his junior and senior seasons).

1972-73 -- Freshmen became eligible for varsity basketball. (KU flashback: For some reason, apparently the Korean War, freshmen became eligible for only the 1951-52 season and Bill Heitholt, Larry Davenport and Jerry Alberts began their four-year careers as Jayhawks.)

1976-77 -- The dunk was made legal again.

1981-82 -- The jump ball was used only at the beginning of the game and the start of each overtime. An alternating arrow was to indicate possession on jump-balls.

1984-85 -- The coaching box was introduced, whereby a coach and all bench personnel were to remain in the 28-foot-long coaching box unless seeking information from the scorer's table.

1985-86 -- The 45-second possession rule came in. The head coach could stand throughout the game but all other bench personnel had to sit.

1986-87 -- The three-point field goal was introduced and the release line set at 19-9. (KU flashback: It came a year too late for KU gunners like Ron Kellogg and Calvin Thompson, two aces on the 1986 Final Four team.)

1993-94 --The shot clock was reduced to 35 seconds from 45.