Wait, Where was the Foul?

Basketball

Warning: This post is long as shiiiiiiiiit

I’m a little late to the party with this topic, but in case some of you haven’t heard (or noticed), the NCAA has strengthened their rules when it comes to fouling in Collegiate Basketball. The new rules are listed below. The defender of the ball carrier will be charged a foul if he/she:

  • Keeps a hand or forearm on the opponent.
  • Puts two hands on an opponent.
  • Continually jabs an opponent by extending an arm or placing a hand/forearm on the opponent.
  • Uses an arm bar to impede the progress of the dribbler.

Now, I’m all for making the game better, but the increase in fouls has been painful to watch during the first few weeks of the 2013-2014 season. I’m going to give an example that would probably receive less than a 15% in a college-level statistics class, because I’m taking a sample of two games from the 1,000+ that have already been played to base my opinion on these rules. Before I go into these examples, I want you to know that I’m a fan of both of these teams (Duke and Winthrop), and if there is a hint of bias in my reasoning, or if it sounds like I’m bitching (excuse my French) because both of them lost, it is accidental. It just makes my reasoning a little easier, because a majority of the games I watch are theirs. Without further ado, I present to you my rant on the rule changes:

Last Tuesday, college basketball fans were given an early Christmas present when two powerhouse programs (Kansas and Duke) squared off in one of the many early season tournaments the NCAA provides us. To add more excitement to the already star-studded matchup, two of arguably the best freshmen in the NCAA were facing each other for the first time in a collegiate uniform: Duke’s Jabari Parker, and Kansas’s Andrew Wiggins. Apart from the excitement both bring to the game, the rule change was definitely a highly talked about topic throughout. Between the two teams a combined 53 fouls were committed, which led to a total of 63 free-throw attempts. Kansas won 94-83.

Now, this past Saturday Winthrop, the school I graduated from (who was really good up until I started going there – go figure), faced off against VCU. This game wasn’t deemed as exciting to much of the population as the aforementioned game, but it was for fans of Winthrop, whose team has played a solid three games to start the season (including this one), and fans of VCU, whose team has been elite ever since making the final four in 2011. I was unable to watch this one, because I was in Columbia, SC at the USC/Florida game this weekend, but from the box score I can only imagine the rule change was a hot topic. Between the two teams a total of 54 fouls were committed, resulting in 73 free-throw attempts. VCU won 91-72, and according to the recap, VCU began to pull away late into the second half (just throwin’ that out there!)

Look at those numbers. Between the two games 107 fouls were committed, and 126 free-throws shot. Is that not an outrageous amount of fouls and free-throws? As stated before, I didn’t watch the Winthrop/VCU game, so I can’t say how many fouls were called based on the rule change. But, I did watch the Duke/Kansas game, and a majority of them were results of the rule change. The guards for both teams were getting blown by when defending. With the rule change, if you lose a step on the ball carrier there is almost no way to prevent him from scoring, so it definitely favors offensive players. For the last ten minutes of that game almost every possession ended in a foul, because the guards were committing little hand-checking fouls to defend and prevent the offensive player form blowing past him.

This doesn’t infuriate just the players, but also the viewers. The players are more prone to fouling out when playing defense, and the fans have to watch them sit the bench. Not to mention, all of these petty fouls lengthens the game. You know when you’re watching a game, and your significant other asks you, “can you come here?”, and you respond with, “there’s only 2 minutes left, I’ll be there at the end”? We all know that 2 minutes of a game, especially at the end, is equivalent to 15-20 minutes of real time. Try having to sit through 10 minutes of game-time under the same conditions as there are with 2 minutes left. It added on an extra 30-40 minutes! There’s no way you’re “gettin’ it” by keeping your significant other waiting that long!

That’s enough of my ranting. It’s a new set of rules, so I know players and coaches will have to adjust, and this adjustment will take some time. But, I really do hope the number of fouls goes down, because some of these games are unbearable to watch. And, again – this is a sample size of two games. It may not be the case for a majority of the games, but this is what I’ve seen so far.

Perhaps they can increase the amount of fouls needed to foul out from five to six, similar to that of the NBA? (Thanks to whichever ESPN College Basketball Analyst suggested that!) Anyhow, I’ll just remember to get a larger cup for my drink, and pop some more popcorn when watching Duke/Winthrop play.

-Fin

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