NCAA rule change stops short

May 11, 2009 

One thing the NBA unequivocally does better than college basketball is limit the number of judgment calls on charge/block fouls.

The NBA did that by adding an arc under the basket. If you attempt to take a charge in the restricted area designated by the arc, it's a defensive foul. Simple.

An ancillary effect of the arc is defenders attempt to take fewer charges, which leads to less contact — and fewer instances an official can influence the outcome of a game.

All the college game had to do was add the NBA arc. The NCAA rules committee, in its infinite wisdom, decided against adding the arc, rather it will "define the area under the basket and prohibit a secondary defender from establishing guarding position in that area."

“In our surveys and rules forums, the coaches wanted the committee to address the increasing contact that seems to occur under the basket,” said NCAA Secretary-Rules Editor for Men’s Basketball Ed Bilik on the NCAA's web site. “Instead of an experimental rule, this clarifies how officials are to call this play throughout the season.”

There's no mention of how the area will be defined (an actual arc — visible to the everyone in the building — would apparently make too much sense).

If the shorter window for early NBA entrant prospects is the "UNC Rule," this has the framework of being the "Duke Rule."

To use a hockey term, the "second man in" can't take a charge. Again, the wording of the release is unclear but you can imagine if a "help defender" (to use a basketball term) establishes position in the defined area — even if he's there first — will be whistled for a foul. There goes 75 percent of Duke's defensive game plan.

But what about the primary defender? Apparently, he can stand under the basket and take a charge, thereby circumventing the entire point of the proposed rule.

So Tyler Hansbrough, Shane Battier (or pick a Duke defender) could still do the flopping act as long as it was against his man. (And you're back at Square One with the official and his judgment).

Without an arc, you're asking the official to make the judgment call on the contact, the location of the contact and the intent of the defense. Not so simple.

The rule still needs to be passed by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel on June 3, but typically that's a formality.

Unsolicited advice for the PROP, kick this back to the subcommittee and add the arc.

Among the other recommendations, the rules committee suggested a change in the injured-free-throw-shooter procedure and the increased use of the replay monitor.

Currently, if a player is injured while being fouled and can't shoot the free throws, his coach gets to choose a shooter off the bench. The new rule would let the opposing coach pick one of the four remaining players on the floor to shoot the free throws. (This rule actually makes sense).

As for the monitor, in the cases of contact that wasn't called an intentional foul on the floor, the officials can review the play and penalize the player with an intentional personal or a technical foul for the contact. (Any rule that increases the use of the monitor, and extends the game, is generally not good).

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