Posted May 09, 2013

Positive changes to block/charge, handchecking could be in store for 2013-14

Rules
Changes to the block/charge call will have a significant impact on some top teams. (Chris Steppig/Pool/Getty Images)

Changes to the block/charge call will have a significant impact on some top teams. (Chris Steppig/Pool/Getty Images)

In a major step toward implementing much-needed changes that should aid offenses, the NCAA men’s basketball rules committee has recommended an adjustment in the way block/charge calls are made, as well as encouraging more consistent application of current rules regarding the limitation of freedom of movement on the floor.

According to a release from the NCAA, the proposed rules changes must be approved by the “playing rules oversight panel” (which next convenes via conference call on June 18) before becoming effective for the 2013-14 season.

The block/charge call is the most difficult in the sport, but there is a prevailing sense that has emerged over the past couple of seasons that the balance of that call had tilted way too heavily toward calling charges. The implementation of a charge circle was supposed to help offenses by not allowing defenders to camp underneath the rim, but it just ended up being a crutch for officials, who were forced to look at multiple things (foot placement and defensive positioning) at once, and ended up calling a lot of charges that should have been blocking fouls simply because the defender was outside the circle.

The change in the rule, which will require a defender to be established in legal defensive position prior to the offensive player beginning to raise the ball to initiate a shot attempt (rather than when he leaves the floor) should help shift that balance, and won’t reward defenses for last-second slide-ins after primary defenders are beaten off the dribble. It will be interesting to see what impact that will have on teams that teach and use help defense in that way.

The other changes, which really are just a re-emphasis of existing rules on the book, will require officials to consistently and, perhaps exhaustively, crack down on handchecking, armbars, and other techniques used both on a primary ballhandler and on cutters moving through the lane. If the officials do call this regularly, we’ll end up with a lot of fouls and free throws early in the season, and then hopefully teams will adjust and we’ll see better, more free-flowing offense later in the campaign. The off-ball contact in the lane is an especially big problem in the college game, and it will again challenge coaches who teach this as part of their defensive approach to find another way to successfully guard.

As a supporter of the now-ineffective charge circle two years ago, it’s clear that what sounds good on paper doesn’t always mean it will work in practice, but these seem like reasonable improvements. It doesn’t mean there won’t be block/charge controversy, as the rule change would just be moving a blurry line, but if the benefit goes to the offense more often, it’s a good thing. Once these changes are observed, then a more educated decision on the length of the shot clock can be reached. These are good starting steps in an evolution of the game that is sorely needed.

8 comments
zeebaneighba
zeebaneighba

Cracking down on hand checking and armbars is one thing, but if a defender has position before the ballhandler takes his last stride, it's a charge, I don't care where it is. Good defense does NOT make for boring games - offensive free-for-alls do. That's why I don't watch the NBA.

matt209348209
matt209348209

So this is basically lets turn the college game completely into the equivalent of AAA baseball. If I wanted these rule changes I'd just watch the NBA where defense appears to be outlawed anyway. Leave the college game alone it has already been ruined enough with the NBAs one and done rule

westcoastoffensive
westcoastoffensive

How about more no calls? So many of these fouls are shouldn't be blocks nor charges.

6marK6
6marK6

Too much flopping!

Ken A
Ken A

@zeebaneighba You obviously don't watch NBA games if you think they do not play defense. It isn't 1978 any more. So you think a defender should be able to move in front of an offensive player who is committed to the basket and could not physically stop before he reaches the defender, ie what happened in the Ohio State tournament game? The defender should be position before the guy plants the foot to jump for the shot. 

As the rules are currently written, if the offensive player is moving without the ball the defender has to give him more room to change direction than the one written for the man driving the ball. As for the hand checking rules I am in total agreement.  Basketball is supposed to be a game of movement and such. Some of those teams in the tournament rode the opposing guards like they were playing rugby.

zeebaneighba
zeebaneighba

@Ken A @zeebaneighba Sorry, if you haven't planted your foot, you're not truly committed to the basket. If a defender is moving into position, the offensive player needs to take that into account and pull up for a short jumper or alter his path. Dunks should occur only when the offense totally schools the defense.


I don't watch much NBA these days, maybe 3-4 minutes at a time, but when I do, I don't see much defense worthy of the name.

Ken A
Ken A

@zeebaneighba @Ken A The problem is, you have defenders coming out from behind guys jumping in like the Ohio State guy did. I want you to try to go to the basket, take that last step to make a layup and then go straight up to shoot instead of forward. The laws of physics say it won't happen. If the defender isn't there before the guy picks the ball up to go up (I don't believe the guy should get the extra NBA step either.) then he should get called for a foul. When I was growing up you had to be dead set by at least 2 steps before they blew a charge.