Somehow the NCAA approved a bunch of new rules, but I missed when that happened.
In any case, ESPN's Jeff Goodman put together a nice overview of the changes, with a healthy dose of commentary from some of the highest profile head coaches. Go read the piece, it's good to see what guys like Louisville's Rick Pitino, Kentucky's John Calipari, and Kansas' Bill Self have to say about the changes.
But it's also time for fans to brush up on the changes so everyone knows to stay off Karl Hess' case for the ticky tack stuff, because let's be honest, he's going to get himself into enough problems without a stadium full of fans shouting at him about handchecking.
Here's the biggest update to the rulebook, where all of these things have been moved from guidelines to official, written in stone definitions of a foul:
- Keep hand or forearm on an opponent.
- Putting two hands on an opponent.
- Continually jabbing an opponent by extending an arm or placing a hand or forearm on the opponent.
- Using an arm bar to impede the progress of a dribbler.
Derrick Wilson, please pick up the white courtesy phone. It is important to note that merely touching a defender is not a foul, according to NCAA director of officials John Adams, but "keeping a hand on them is a foul, putting two hands on them is a foul, constantly jabbing at them is a foul."
The other most notable change comes on the block/charge rule. As Goodman explains:
Another rule that should clearly benefit the offense and is likely to increase scoring is the block-charge call, which now states that a defensive player is not permitted to move into the path of an offensive player once he has begun his upward motion with the ball to attempt a field goal or pass. Previously, the player had to be in legal guarding position when the offensive player lifted off the floor.
In short, ducking into the path of a player who has already begun to move his arms upwards to take a shot, regardless of where his feet are, should be called as a blocking foul. Hopefully making the cutoff on getting into a legal defending position earlier should improve the rate of correct block/charge calls, which Adams says was only 65 - SIXTY-FIVE - percent last year. In other words, they got it WRONG 35% of the time.
All of these changes are being implemented with the idea of allowing more freedom of movement on the court by the offensive players. It seems like it might be a bit of a seismic shift in how players have gotten used to playing, so we may see a dramatic uptick in fouls called in the early part of the season until the players adjust to the new rules. But, more freedom of movement will in theory allow for more scoring, and as someone who paid good money to watch a 49-48 Georgetown-Marquette game last year, I'm all for that.