Sports 101

There certainly hasn't been any shortage of excitement in the NCAA Tournament. Stanford rose to the occasion and came back from a 6-point deficit in the final 60 seconds to beat Rhode Island; Kentucky scored the winning basket against Duke in the final 4.5 seconds; In women's action, North Carolina State beat the University of Connecticut, making its first trip to the Final Four in school history. The Final Four takes place this weekend.

Q: What is a screen?

A: A screen is an offensive player who stands between a teammate and a defender to give his teammate the chance to take an open shot.

Q: Do timeouts vary in length?

A: Yes. There are full timeouts - 100 seconds in the NBA, 75 seconds in college - and 20-second timeouts. According to the NCAA 1998 Official Rules, in games not involving commercial electronic media, each team is entitled to four full-length and two 20-second timeouts.

When commercial electronic media are involved, when the commercial format calls for at least three timeouts in either half, each team is entitled to two full-length timeouts and three 20-second timeouts.

Q: How can turnovers help a team?

A: A turnover occurs when the offense loses possession of the ball. Defenses that force a lot of turnovers usually win because the technique builds momentum and gives them more chances to score.

Q: What is a zone defense and why is it used?

A: In a zone defense, each defender is responsible for an area of the court and must guard any player who enters that area. The most popular zone defense is called a 2-3 zone, which features two players near the free-throw line and three players closer to the basket. This type of defense allows more than one defender to surround that player at all times and helps defend against a strong perimeter shooter. Zone defenses are used in college but not permitted in the NBA - they refer to it as an illegal defense (see diagram).

Q: Suppose a player loses control of his dribble and it goes out of bounds. Does he lose possession of the ball?

A: As long as he retrieves the ball, returns to the designated spot, and inbounds the ball within the five-second requirement, his team still retains possession.

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