VCSU men ready for rule changes at Wesmen Classic
The Valley City State University mens basketball team had a largely traditional practice Monday when it returned from its short holiday break.
But as the team worked its offense, there was one subtle change — rather than running the shot clock at 35 seconds, the Vikings were working the ball with only 24.
It was a strategic move to help prepare the team for the Wesmen Classic tournament, which starts Wednesday at the University of Winnipeg in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Unlike the Vikings' other games within the U.S., which are played under NCAA/NAIA rules, the Vikings will be playing in games using FIBA rules, the standard for Canadian Interuniversity Sport basketball games.
Although VCSU coach Jeff Kaminsky didn't expect his players to have all the changes memorized after the first practice with them, the changes will be there.
"The biggest thing that's obvious is the 24-second shot clock, which is a major difference from our 35-second shot clock," Kaminsky said. "That'll be the most significant part of the game (to change.)
"There's other strategic parts of the game, like players can't call timeouts, so the game keeps flowing a bit."
Going with the flow, timeouts can also only be called when play is stopped rather than in action.
There's also a matter of a different sized restricted area under the basket, with FIBA opting for a trapezoid shaped key compared, a slightly longer 3-point line, quarters instead of halves.
FIBA rules also apply to fouls. Where NCAA/NAIA rules give a one-and-one "bonus" shot after the sixth team foul of the half, the FIBA rules give the team two free throws after the fourth team foul in each quarter.
"We have fifty pages of FIBA rules that we're going over in comparison of the rules," Kaminsky said.
To the Vikings advantage, it's a trip Kaminsky has taken before.
"We've done it twice," he said. "We did it two years ago and the competition is great. It's a big tournament in Canada, they invite some of the better Canadian college teams.
"The talent level is pretty good, it's not separated by (NCAA) Division I and Division II and NAIA like we are here in the States, so we're basically playing the upper level college division."
He said the affect of the rule changes is noticeable.
"You do have to play differently and (the Canadian teams are) used to playing that way," he said. "I think the adjustment from going from our rules to their rules is more severe just because of the shot clock, primarily.
"It does make it a little more of a transition game and it limits some of the things you can do offensively if you run a very patient offense."
Although the Vikings last trip to the tournament ended with a 1-2 record, Kaminsky has been pleased by his team's performance this year.
The Vikings enter the tournament with a 10-4 record are on a four game win streak.
Lead scorer Sekani Milligen is averaging 18.93 points per game and Aaron Duske and John Raquel are following with 12.21 and 12.0, respectively.
"I like the direction we're going," Kaminsky said. "I think we have a lot of depth and we have a team that's just continuing to learn how to play together and how to succeed."