Teams adjusting to new NCAA rules
Published: Thursday, November 7, 2013 at 10:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 8:23 p.m.
When Patric Young barreled through the lane last Friday night in UF's exhibition opener, the 6-foot-9, 240-pound center met slight resistance from a Florida Southern defender.
Who: North Florida Ospreys (13-19 last season) vs. No. 10 Florida Gators (29-8)
When: Friday, 3 p.m.
Where: O'Connell Center
TV: Sun Sports
Radio:AM-850, 103.7 FM
Young missed a chip shot layup. But then the whistle sounded. Because Florida Southern forward Tyler Kelly touched Young with both hands during the drive, Kelly was called for a foul. Young calmly sank both free throws, extending UF's first-half lead.
Welcome to college basketball in 2013-14, where touch fouls will be the norm rather than the exception. The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel adopted rules changes over the summer designed to create more freedom of movement on offense.
Among the key rule changes and points of emphasis:
-- On a block/charge call, a defensive player is not permitted to move into the path of an offensive player once he has started his upward motion with the ball to attempt a field goal or pass.
-- Fouls will be called when a defensive player keeps a hand or forearm on an opponent.
--- Fouls will be called when a defensive player puts two hands on an opponent.
-- Fouls will be called when a defensive player continually jabs by extending his arm(s) or placing a hand or forearm on an opponent (aka hand-checking).
-- Fouls will be called when a player uses an arm bar to impede the progress of an opponent.
The emphasis on player movement was apparent in UF's 110-88 exhibition win over Florida Southern. Both teams combined for 46 fouls and Florida went to the free-throw line 39 times. The Gators only went to the free-throw line 30 or more times twice last season — 36 times against Minnesota in the NCAA Tournament and 30 times in UF's season opener against Alabama State.
“The officials even said during the game they are adjusting to some of these rule changes and the way the game needs to be officiated,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “I think this is going to be a huge adjustment period for everybody, at least the way they are talking about interpreting these hand-check rules, contact rules, block-charge rules. All of those things are going to be an adjustment period for coaches, players and officials.”
Auburn basketball coach Tony Barbee welcomes the changes. Last season, Division I teams averaged 67.5 points per game, the lowest scoring output since 1981-82 (67.4 points per game). Overall, scoring has dropped in college basketball in each of the last four seasons.
“It was getting way old,” Barbee said. “It was a rugby match that was taking place. As you got deeper and deeper into the year it got worse and worse. The strongest team won, not the best or the most skilled team.”
For more physical, defensive oriented teams like Tennessee and Florida, though, the changes could have a different impact. Pressing could be mitigated because the contact before the timeline could be called more judiciously.
“We're going to have to do a better job,” Donovan said. “Pressing for us, we don't want to foul too much.”
Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin said he doesn't see the rules changes impacting his approach to coaching his team.
“We try to play physical without fouling,” Martin said. “As I've said, we never play dirty basketball. We box out the way I was taught as a young guy. We use an armbar in certain techniques.
“We always play arms length defense. We say all of the time so our guys understand that. When your arms length, that means you are not fouling. So our approach doesn't change but we make our guys conscious of it because you want to stay aggressive. It's part of our brand. You gotta stay aggressive. I don't want our guys to be passive.”
The question remains, will officials stick with the rules emphasis during the course of the season, or will they cave into pressure from fans and coaches not wanting games to turn into free-throw shooting contests.
“We're going to start off with 45 to 60 fouls a game — it's going to be ugly," Jake Bell, the SEC's new coordinator of men's basketball officials, told Al.com. "(Rulesmakers) want more offense. They want to improve the game for the fans. Basically, they want to win the game on the floor instead of in the weight room."
Donovan traditionally doesn't call many fouls in practice because he feels like it bogs down the flow of getting his offense and defense set. But given the rules changes, he's addressed fouls more frequently this preseason.
“The biggest thing is going to be can the officials stay really consistent because there's going to be some games where people are going to say this isn't fun to watch because it's just free-throw shooting,” Donovan said. “I think that's where maybe it's changed a little bit where, officiating got adjusted to coaches and styles. I think it's going to go back to more we're going to have to adjust to them.”