Friday, May 10, 2013

NCAA Men's Basketball Takes Positive Step With Rule Changes

After last season, Iowa State should be thrilled about the new charge/block rule recommendation. (

The voices of displeasure were loud and clear. There isn't enough scoring. The product is going downhill. The officials are ruining the game.

The NCAA Men's Basketball Rules Committee deserves credit. Angry voices can go years without being heard, or maybe more appropriate, being acted upon. Just look at college football's BCS system. Year after year went by as the exhausted angry voices turned more into zombie chants calling, "Playoff. Playoff" with no response. College football will soon have its playoff system, but it was a fight that took far too long before finally ending in victory.

This case is not nearly as extreme as changing the postseason format of a sport. Not even close. These are simply modifying rules, which happen on a regular basis, but it shouldn't take away from the fact that fans were angry and the people with the power to do something about it listened and are reacting quickly. This does not happen often.

Ask Iowa State's basketball team how it feels about the charge/block rule. The Cyclones have been on the wrong end of it twice, the first opened the door for a comeback by Kansas in the regular season, and the second ended the Cyclones' NCAA Championship chances against Ohio State. The Cyclones stick out, but are far from the only ones with a case to complain.

Now the rules committee has recommended a change to the rule, where defenders, "who move into the path of an offensive player once he has started upward movement to pass or shoot the ball will be called for a blocking foul." When the block line under the basket was incorporated in the college game, it was used as a crutch for officials, and an emphasis was taken away from the defender's positioning and footing. This should help restore balance in the call and give more freedom to the offensive player.

Also helping the offensive player is another rule recommendation limiting the amount of hand and forearm contact by defenders. A criticism after this season is the game has gotten too physical, and calling more fouls for hand checks should benefit offensive players from being thrown off by contact. These two changes are not official, and will be discussed by the Playing Rules Oversight committee in June.

Both of these are recommended with the intent to increase scoring, which has been the main complaint by fans, because a 20-14 halftime score is just not as appealing as it sounds. Another suggested solution to the scoring drought has been to lower the shot clock from 35 seconds, but the committee was too segmented for this change to be recommended. 

The two changes will not fix all of college basketball's problems, but it's a positive start and a refreshing one in that fans have not had to yell about a change for five years before the NCAA obliged. 

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