The new season is officially underway with Wichita State dominating Oklahoma Baptist 73 – 29. Every Shocker saw time on the court, and the exhibition allowed fans to see all of the new players in action. When you beat a team by 44, and hold the opponent to one field goal in the first half, there shouldn’t be much to complain about. However, like the rest of the country, Shocker fans watched a game that had just a little more tempo than paint drying. The disparity in skill-level, size and athleticism had something to do with the lack of tempo, but the majority of the blame falls on the rule changes. Their will be a steep learning curve that teams will have, adjusting to the new rules imposed by the NCAA over the off-season. I will try my best to outline the changes, and the outcomes that the NCAA expects from the updated style of play due to the rule changes.
As a kid, I remember lining up to go back into class from recess. Kids will be kids, and we’d dribble our basketballs, pass it back and forth, and occasionally try and swat the balls out of each other’s hands. The teachers would shout at us to “keep your hands to yourself.” That can sum up the new rule changes in one sentence. The biggest rule change for this year is that the NCAA officially moved hand-checking and arm-barring from a guideline, to an official violation of the rules. The NCAA also adjusted the rules to the block/charge call.
What is hand-checking?
Hand-checking is a technique used on defense to contain an offensive player. When a defender hand-checks, they put one or both hands intermittently or constantly on the player, which affects the offensive player’s ability to move. View a video of hand-checking.
What is an arm-bar?
An arm-bar is when the defensive player uses their forearm to impede movement of the offensive player, pushing against the player with the forearm. View a video of using an arm-bar.
What is considered illegal touching of an offensive player with the new rules?
Four types of illegal tactics were cited:
- Placing and keeping a hand/forearm on opponent.
- Putting two hands on opponent.
- Continually jabbing by placing hand or forearm on opponent.
- Using an arm bar to impede the progress of the dribbler.
Note that simply touching the player with the ball is not an automatic foul.
What is the intended outcome by implementing this new rule?
- Defenders will need to move their feet as opposed to using their arms/hands to negate an offensive opportunity.
- Increased emphasis will create a less physical game.
- Enhancement of freedom of movement principles and a smoother game flow.
You said something about a change to the block/charge call. What about that?
This change is a big change, but in comparison to the new rule on hand-checking, it is drastically smaller in concern. The old way of calling a charge was that the defender had to establish a legal guarding position when the offensive player lifted off the floor. The new rule states that a defensive player is not permitted to move into the path of an offensive player once he has begun his upward motion with the ball to attempt a field goal or a pass.
NCAA Director of Officials, John Adams said that in a single game, referees make the correct decision on about 90% of all calls. However last year, the block/charge call was called correctly only 65% of the time. It’s apparent to anyone who watches basketball that the block/charge foul is one of the most disputed calls in a game. The NCAA has obviously taken attention of it as well. Basically what is going to happen is that the charge call will be nearly invisible this next season. There will be more blocks called than there already were, and it gives the advantage to the offensive player.
How do you think this will affect college basketball?
Ok, now that you know the major changes to the rules, let’s talk about how this will affect the game of college basketball. I think this is a positive for the tempo of college basketball in the long-term. The key to that sentence is “long-term.” The game is now heavily in favor of the offensive player gaining access to the hoop. The defender can no longer lead the ball-handler with his hand, he can no longer arm-bar the defender back when he’s closing space, and then there is the change to the charge/block rule. In the short-term, we will see a lot of sloppy defense and a lot of whistles. There will be a lot of ticky-tack fouls that if done in years past, would get a kudos from a defensive-minded coach. The teams that benefit from these changes, will be teams that have an up-tempo, up-and-down offense, that have superior athletes. What will also increase, will be fouls. The number of drives to the hoop will increase for teams, and trips to the line for and-one opportunities should increase. These rule changes favor teams with deep rosters who can maneuver players in and out in case they get into foul trouble.
One of the big changes I’m hoping to see though, is a more consistent tempo to games across all conferences. Consistency for the NCAA can be difficult when there are 32 leagues, 20 officiating coordinators and 838 Division I men’s basketball referees, and that is part of the reason you see such differing styles of basketball played from conference to conference. The 40 and 50 point games should disappear in the future. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the MVC fair with the new rules, since a majority like to slow it down against Wichita State.