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College Basketball Has Some New Points Of Emphasis For 2016-17

When I saw the words “double fouls,” I immediately feared seeing Pat Driscoll refereeing Marquette games.

NCAA Basketball: Marquette at Xavier
Noted Drunken Hobbit Jim Burr yelling at Wojo after (I presume) Wojo told him he’s doing his job wrong again.
Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander recently sat down with NCAA head of officiating J.D. Collins to help college basketball fans understand the new points of emphasis for referees in the 2016-17 season. You should go read the full article to get Collins’ explanations of how the NCAA rules committee arrived at these topics, but this is the quick summary version so you’re ready to cheer on Marquette and/or yell at the referees as appropriate when the season starts on November 11.

Item #1 - Coaches can call timeouts after made baskets.

Last year marked a change where only players could call timeouts when the ball was live, which included when you took it out of bounds after your opponent scored. Coaches can call for time in that circumstance now, but a loose ball scrum on the floor or in the middle of a defensive trap? Still has to be called by the players on the floor.

I think this is a reasonable middle ground on the issue. The ball isn’t 100% live after a made basket, so it seems fair to allow coaches to stop play.

Item #2 - The NCAA thinks that double fouls will be a somewhat regular occurrence.

This will stem from positioning in the post. The offensive player can use his elbows to make sure he has space to operate, but he can’t use both arms to restrict the movement of the defensive player behind him. Think about Luke Fischer throwing both hands behind him in an effort to back down his defender. That’s an offensive foul.

To go along with that, the defensive player is not allowed to lean on the offensive player nor are they allowed to stick their arm underneath the offensive player’s arm in an effort to interfere with their ability to catch the ball. Those would both be defensive fouls.

This makes sense. However, the NCAA seems to be under the impression that these things happen concurrently and thus, double fouls will occur regularly. Wouldn’t the offensive move happen first and the defensive reach through to defend happen as a result? Wouldn’t that just be an offensive foul and a turnover without the defensive foul? Maybe I need to see this in action first.

Item #3 - Referees are going to be focused on pivot feet to call traveling.

Norlander’s explanation in the article talks about players catching a pass and making a small hop to set their feet. That absolutely sounds like a travel and it should be called. Except I know I’ve noticed a lot of players making a small hop, catching the ball in the air, and then landing, which does not sound like a travel. If you watch the video at the bottom of this article, it seems like it’s not.

Item #4 - There should be fewer charges called.

That sounds delightful. Defenders jumping straight up in the air when they’re near the basket will be allowed to do so as long as they stay vertical, but standing still in the half-circle under the basket is still a blocking foul. Defenders stepping in at the last second to draw a charge won’t draw it if the offensive player makes contact while coming to a stop. The exact phrasing Norlander uses is “charges will not be called unless forward momentum by the offensive player is egregious.” If the offensive player stops, makes incidental contact while passing or shooting, and that goes uncalled as a block or a charge, that sounds totally 100% okay with me.

Item #5 - Normal basketball movement must be allowed.

This sounds like an extension of the normal “freedom of movement” rule set that was established before last season. You can trap and double team, but defenders must not violate what the rulebook is calling the offensive player’s vertical cylinder. Of course, the defender has to be allowed the ability to make “normal basketball movement” in order to play defense, so this sounds like it might be subject to a lot of interpretation from game to game and referee to referee.

Here’s a video from the NCAA that should help make some of this make sense. FAIR WARNING: It’s 23 minutes long. FAIR WARNING #2: The bits about legal basketball moves with regards to arm placement is going to result in a lot of people pissed off about what looks like a normal basketball move, particularly when there’s an emphasis on freedom of movement.