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Rule Changes In College Basketball

Major changes regarding fouls are coming this season to create a more entertaining brand of basketball.

Ezra Shaw

With the 2013 basketball season just around the corner, a hot topic around the league is the reformed rules on hand-checking and offensive fouls. The intent for these changes is to create "free movement" on the offensive side of the ball and ultimately increase scoring. There is very little doubt that the college game has become painfully difficult to watch, as many teams struggle to break 70 (and often times 60) points in a game. This has mostly been attributed to the physical play that defenders frequently get away with, particularly on the perimeter.

My friend, an official himself, was kind enough to provide me the some insight on the matter. Below are excerpts from the NCAA Men's Rulebook, followed by his comments.

Section 5. Hand-Checking (Impeding the Progress of a Player)

To curtail hand-checking, officials must address it at the beginning of the game, and related personal fouls must be called consistently throughout the game. Some guidelines for officials to use when officiating hand-checking:

Keep in mind, this is a new change for the Men’s game. It sounds strange, but they are trying to move more towards the "one touch" approach used by the women’s side of basketball. The belief is it will open up the game and increase scoring.

a. When a defensive player keeps a hand or forearm on an opponent, it is a personal foul.

To be honest, referees hate the way this is worded. We are taught one thing at camp, and then coaches expect something different during the season. We are taught that a foul occurs when one player, no matter if it is the defensive player or the ball handler, interrupts the Rhythm, Speed, Balance, or Quickness (RSBQ) of another player. As you can imagine, a hand or a forearm on a player may or may not interrupt his RSBQ. The way these rules are written, one would assume, no matter what, it is a foul. In reality, if these were called as the rule book reads, most players would be fouled out by the end of the first half. This is counter-productive to the spirit of the rule. The coaches, fans, and the NCAA want the best players on the court because that translates into wins, and wins translate into money.

b. When a defensive player puts two hands on an opponent, it is a personal foul.

Again, this reads no matter what, it is a foul. It does not say just on a ball handler either. So by rule, a post defender cannot, at any time, have two points of contact with his opponent.

c. When a defensive player continually jabs by extending his arm(s) and placing a hand or forearm on the opponent, it is a personal foul.

This is not a new rule. This is called a stupid defender.

d. When a defensive player uses an arm bar to impede the progress of a dribbler, it is a personal foul.

Again, this is not new. But they want to place more of an emphasis on getting this call correct. In my opinion, the men’s game has become way too physical and in turn, not as explosive.

Art. 4. To establish an initial legal guarding position on the player with the ball:

a. The guard shall have both feet touching the playing court. When the guard jumps into position initially, both feet must return to the playing court after the jump, for the guard to attain a legal guarding position.

Being able to determine this is why we go to camps. This is by far the hardest call in basketball. This is not a new rule but they want to make sure it is called correctly.

b. The guard’s torso shall face the opponent.

c. No time and distance shall be required.

This is just applicable to someone defending the player with the ball. If it is on a player without the ball, time and distance is required.

d. When the opponent with the ball is airborne, the guard shall have attained legal guarding position before the opponent begins his upward motion with his hands/arms to shoot or pass. (Exception: Rule 4-17.7).

Did you know that a defender does not have to be on the ground to take a charge? They have to establish a legal guarding position first. Once that happens, they are entitled to that spot from the floor to the ceiling.

The dynamic between coaches and officials is interesting in all of this. My friend reminded me that the coaches themselves are responsible bringing to light areas of concern, and ultimately vote on any major rule changes.

Kyle Porter highlighted Coach Ford's comments about this topic during his press conference Monday. He seems to be annoyed with the changes based on his responses to questions. It appears coaches across the country have polarizing opinions about the change.

I personally think these changes will impact what the Pokes do extremely well on defense. The physical perimeter pressure the guards were able to sustain last season was a large part of this team's identity. However, the rules will also open up the offense for players that thrive on driving to the bucket, and will allow the jump shooters to get jump shots off free of contact.

As far as the charging rule changes, I don't think this will be as difficult for players to understand and adjust defensive position.

Hopefully the Pokes will adjust quickly to the way officials will be tightening up the game, while maintaining success through an aggressive style of play.