During this past season, my coach subbed in a player from the bench and that player did a poor job of communicating who was to be subbed out. This resulted in our team having six players on the court (obviously not allowed). There was a span of about five seconds off the clock before the refs noticed. I had the ball and missed a long 3 after about two because I figured we might get to keep the points if we got them before the referee noticed our 6 players.

Its kind of a joke now between my coach and I, that with six players on the court, the best shot we got was a long three from me (not one of our top shooters). But in all seriousness what would the results have been if I had made the shot before the refs noticed?

(This was an NCAA game)

1 Answer 1


This will be incredibly dependent on the league you are in, so the best thing to do is ask the refs in your league. However, my guess is that they'd follow similar guidelines as the NBA or NCAA, so I'll look at both of those below.

First and foremost, the refs should have called a technical on your team regardless of whether you made the shot.

For NCAA, according to Wikipedia:

[C]ollegiate basketball (both men's and women's) limit teams to five players on the court at any one time. A team with more than five in play at once is assessed a technical foul for Too Many Players on the Court.

For NCAA rules, the technical would have resulted in "two free throws... be[ing] awarded to any member of the offended team" (page 103). I can't find anything specific on whether you'd keep the points in the NCAA, but fortunately the NBA is much clearer.

In the NBA rules, section VII.E addresses too many men on field specifically (emphasis mine):

If the ball is put into play and remains in play with one team having six or more players on the court, a non-unsportsmanlike technical foul will be assessed on the team with too many players. Immediately following the free throw awarded for the technical foul, the team with the correct number of players will instruct the Crew Chief to:

  • resume play from the point in time when the technical foul was assessed, under the same conditions as would have prevailed had there been no error with a throw-in, jump ball or foul shot, as appropriate.

  • nullify all play that occurred from the point in time when the ball was put into play with one team having six or more players on the court and ending when the technical foul was assessed, and reset the game and shot clock to the point in time when the ball was put into play, and if the ball was put into play by:

    1. a throw-in, the ball shall be returned to the original throw-in spot with all privileges remaining, if any, or

    2. a missed free throw that remained in play, a jump ball shall be held at center court between any two players in the game, or

    3. a jump ball, the ball shall be returned to the original jump ball spot and a jump ball held with the same two players.

EXCEPTION: Acts of unsportsmanlike conduct and all flagrant fouls, and points scored from any resulting free throws, shall not be nullified.

(2) Other errors involving the wrong number of players at the start of play, four or less, are not correctable. Following the technical foul, play shall resume from the point-of-interruption.

Under NBA rules, if you had made the shot, the offended team probably would have opted for option 2 and nullified all game play that occurred when your team had 6 players on the court, including your basket.


The NCAA rulebook, Rule 10, Section 2 (Administrative Technical Fouls), Article 6:

Art. 6. A team shall not have more than five players legally on the playing court to participate after the ball becomes live.

PENALTY: (Art. 6) Penalized when the violation occurs after the ball becomes live. Two free throws awarded to the offended team. The ball shall be put back in play at the point of interruption.

Since the Point of Interruption is when "a stoppage in play occurs," I would interpret this to mean that you would keep the points if you made the shot before the technical was called.

  • @John Well shoot. Guess I'll keep digging.
    – SocioMatt
    Commented Mar 28, 2013 at 16:48
  • @John I edited to add the wording from the NCAA rulebook.
    – SocioMatt
    Commented Mar 28, 2013 at 17:16
  • so basically I made the right choice :)
    – jth41
    Commented Mar 28, 2013 at 17:50
  • 2
    @John Yes. Shoot away in the future, too. Ya know... If you end up with 6 men on the court again. :)
    – SocioMatt
    Commented Mar 28, 2013 at 18:40

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