College Basketball: Inbounds Pass/Throw In and Five Second Count

Here’s a fairly simple rule but one that can occur at a critical point of a basketball game: The five-second violation during a throw-in.

The NCAA Men’s Basketball 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 Rules discuss this violation at Pages 75-76/140.

After a break in the action (e.g. a made basket, a turnover, a timeout), a team inbounding the ball has five seconds from the time the official places the ball is at the disposal of the player entitled to the throw-in to start up the game again.   “Disposal” means the official has either handed the ball to the inbounding player or has otherwise made the ball ready for play.  (Occasionally, a team takes too long to re-enter the court or prepare to inbound the ball, and you will see an official place the ball on the floor–at which point the official has placed the ball at that team’s disposal.)

If the inbounding team exceeds the official’s five-second count, the other team is awarded the ball.  Fans sometimes scream “FIVE SECONDS” without a full understanding of the rule, perhaps thinking that the inbounding team must actually possess the ball inbounds before five seconds expires.

So what has to happen before five seconds elapses?

Rule 7, Section 6, Article 5 (Page 75/140) states:

The thrower-in shall release the ball no more than five seconds after the
throw-in count begins. The pass shall go directly into the playing court, except as
provided in Rule 7-4.6.b.

That is your simple yet important rule: The thrower merely needs to release the ball before the five seconds expires.

(The exception for Rule 7-4.6.b about the pass going directly into the playing court refers to a seldom-made pass after a successful basket or goaltending violation, where the inbounding team may pass the ball between players who are out of bounds at the end line under the basket. The ball ultimately must be passed into the playing court before five seconds expires.)

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