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Basketball coaches will be boxed in

Times Staff Writer

The NCAA announced a crackdown on bench decorum for the upcoming basketball season Thursday, saying many common behaviors that are deemed unsportsmanlike by officials will be met with technical fouls without warning.

Also targeted: Coaches who leave the coaching box, even simply to talk to their players. Coaches will be given one warning, then assessed a technical even if their behavior is not unsportsmanlike.

One coach who might need to adjust is UCLA’s Ben Howland, who is prone to wandering.

“When I go out on the floor, it’s because I’m trying to coach my team,” Howland said, noting that he hasn’t been assessed a technical in his four years at UCLA. But he said he believes the NCAA is serious, and the move has the backing of the National Assn. of Basketball Coaches.

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“I think I’ll have to be more cognizant of staying in the box,” Howland said.

Among behaviors the NCAA said will earn a quick ‘T’ are: Addressing an official disrespectfully, trying to influence an official’s decision, using profanity or abusive language, and “objecting to an official’s decision by rising from the bench or excessively using gestures that either demonstrate officiating signals or displeasure with officiating.”

The stricter officiating, which applies to everyone on the bench, isn’t the result of any new rules, but is what is called a “point of emphasis.”

How consistent the implementation will be remains to be seen.

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“They do that with post play and hand-checking almost every year too,” said Dan Monson, the former Gonzaga and Minnesota coach who is preparing for his first season at Long Beach State.

Probably the biggest change would be enforcement of the widely ignored requirement to stay in the coaching box.

A coach is allowed to leave the box during play only “to prevent a fight from escalating, to point out a scoring or timing mistake, to request a timeout to ascertain whether a correctable error needs to be rectified, or to seek information from the official scorer or timer during a timeout or an intermission.”

USC Coach Tim Floyd had a quirky idea about how to keep coaches from drawing attention to themselves.

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“I think if they want to clean up basketball coaches’ decorum, they should treat the sport like baseball and make the coaches wear the uniforms the players do,” Floyd said.

But if the ‘Ts’ start flying, that’s when the jokes will stop.

“You can rest assured if some guy stands up and gets a ‘T’ that costs a game, guys will have seat belts on after that,” UC Irvine Coach Pat Douglass said.

robyn.norwood@latimes.com

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