It is time.
South Dakota State's men and women play exhibition games Friday night at Frost Arena. My Jayhawks supposedly have the best college player since Wilt Chamberlain. The SF Washington girls should be pretty good.
Hoops is here... and in the college game there are a couple of subtle rule tweaks this year that are supposed to make for cleaner, better and "smoother" (according to the NCAA bulletin) games.
The rules under scrutiny pertain to Defending the Player with the Ball and the Block/Charge call.
From the NCAA Men's Basketball Rules and Officiating release: "The committee decided a correction was needed in these two areas to improve the game and ensure a balance between offense and defense."
In other words, they are going to try and free up offensive players by not allowing defenders to be so "hands-on" AND not allowing defenders to step in at the last moment in a block/charge situation.
The bottom line is... it is an attempt to bring some scoring back. In 1977, NCAA men's D1 teams peaked at a high of just under 78 PPG . Last season it was down to 68.1 PPG.
So when you're watching Ben Brust of Wisconsin and Phil Green IV from St. John's guard each other at the Pentagon next week, pay attention to the defenders hands.
As far as "illegal tactics" used by defenders, the rules guys cited these four. 1) Placing and keeping a hand or forearm on opponent. 2) Putting two hands on an opponent. 3) Continually jabbing by placing a hand or forearm on an opponent. 4) Using an arm bar to impede the progress of the dribbler.
So while "simply touching the player with the ball" is not an automatic foul, it sounds like they are going to blow the whistle more often in cases where defenders don't move their feet and use their hands and forearms to corral the offensive player.
The change in the Block/Charge is a similar adjustment to try and make defensive players get in position early enough to draw an obvious charge call. If they don't, officials will most likely call the block on the defensive player.
The amended rule reads... "when a player begins his upward motion to pass or shoot, the defender must be in a legal guarding position." It is a slight difference in the timeframe of when the defender sets up to try and take a charge, but the rules guys think it will help.
Again from the rules memo: "The expectation is that by providing a longer timeframe for the officials to see the actions of both the offense and the defense, the accuracy of officiating these plays will improve. It is important to note that there is no default call in this rule; officials are to call the play as it develops."
Just a couple of things to keep in mind as we head into hoops. You may now return to your football season.