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Wichita State adjusts to NCAA’s changing view of defense

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, Nov. 1, 2013, at 4:42 p.m.
  • Updated Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013, at 12:26 a.m.

Oklahoma Baptist at No. 16 Wichita State

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Koch Arena

Radio: KNSS, 1330-AM

TV: None

Kansas.com

Go to Kansas.com all season for extensive Shocker coverage, including Q&A columns on game days from beat writer Paul Suellentrop, postgame video reaction from coaches, players, Suellentrop and columnist Bob Lutz.

Hands off

The NCAA changed 28 rules for this season in men’s basketball, ranging from defense to the use of technology. Most notably, referees will be required to cut down on physical play that impedes the progress of offensive players.

•  When defending players with the ball, it is now illegal to:

1. Placing and keeping a hand/forearm on opponent

2. Putting two hands on an opponent

3. Continually jabbing by placing hand or forearm on opponent

4. Using an arm bar to impeded progress of the dribbler

Intended outcome: Defender must play defense with their feet, instead of using hands to control offensive players. The result will be a less physical game with more freedom of movement. Simply touching the player with the ball is not a foul.

•  Block/charge

What changed: When a player beings his upward motion to pass or shoot, the defender must be in legal guarding position. The defender is no longer allowed to move into the path of the offensive player once he is in an upward motion to pass or shoot. Previously, the defender had to be in legal guarding position when the ballhandler left his feet.

Intended outcome: By providing more time for officials to see the play develop, the accuracy of calls will improve.

Source: NCAA.com

Scorers, the NCAA is on your side.

Men’s basketball officials are starting the season in the spotlight. They are charged, by the NCAA, to take physical defense out of the game and let offenses flow freely after teams averaged 67.5 points last season, lowest since the 1951-52 season (63.3).

In the NCAA’s view, something needs to change.

“We felt like defense was way ahead of offense,” said Eddie Jackson, Missouri Valley Conference supervisor of men’s officials. “The game had become a game of physicality and not finesse.”

The changes are causing, if not panic, an uproar through the first weeks of scrimmages and exhibitions. Coaches are predicting long games caused by fouls and free throws. WSU coach Gregg Marshall said Baylor shot 23 free throws in a 20-minute scrimmage against WSU a week ago.

“The game is going to be a little different,” Marshall said. “You better have some depth. You’re going to see a lot more foul shots, you’re going to see a lot more foul trouble. You’re going to see people driving it to the basket.”

The rule is now hands (and body) off for defenders. The block-charge rule also changed, requiring defenders to be in position earlier and encouraging blocked shots.

“Defense should be played with feet as opposed to using hands and arms to negate an opportunity,” Jackson said. “We want freedom of movement.”

While Jackson knows the game will change, he wants people to wait until passing judgment. He isn’t ready to predict three-hour games.

“We need to let this play out and see exactly how this is going to affect the game of men’s college basketball,” he said. “Are there going to be more fouls called? I don’t know. Once players adjust, and coaches adjust, then we’re hoping the outcome of this is that we’re going to have less fouls.”

Shooting percentages are down. Foul calls are down. Assists are down. The NCAA wants to reverse that trend, much like the NBA did in 2004 when it eliminated hand-checking.

“No hands, and, really, no body when the ball is being driven,” Marshall said. “There is certainly an advantage to the guy with the basketball if he wants to put it on the floor and drive to the basket.”

The scrimmage against Baylor gave the Shockers their first experience with the new rules.

“It was a pretty big eye-opener,” WSU guard Ron Baker said. “We saw a lot of calls we’re not used to seeing. I feel like, this year, we’re going to have to rely on each other. More team D. More team help.”

The edge, the players said, swung to the man with the ball.

“If I have the ball, you can’t ride me if I go to the basket,” WSU senior Cleanthony Early said. “If I make my move and I’ve got you beat, you can’t try to catch up by hipping me or checking me or getting into my body. You pretty much have to let me go and try to contest my shot.”

The rules will be the same for both teams, the Shockers point out. The ultimate advantage, it appears, goes to the players with the best combination of scoring ability and athletic talent.

“It’s just skill,” Early said. “If a player has skill, he’s going to be fine. I’m cool with it.”

Other rule changes include:

•  Officials will no longer use their count for 10-second violations. They will use the shot clock.

•  Elbow contact above the shoulders can be ruled a common foul. Previously, the rules required it be called a flagrant 1 or flagrant 2 only, a penalty deemed too severe in some cases.

•  Officials can use a monitor in the final two minutes of the second half and the final two minutes of overtime to rule on shot-clock violations and out-of-bounds calls involving two or more players.

•  To limit delays, officials will wait to review questionable three-point shots until the next media timeout (at 16, 12, 8 and 4 minutes). Inside the final four minutes of the second half and in overtime, officials will stop play.

Highly ranked — Oklahoma Baptist is ranked No. 2 in the NAIA Division I preseason poll.

The Bison, 25-8 last season, opened the season with a 97-52 win over Manhattan Christian College on Thursday in Shawnee, Okla. Aaron Abram, a junior forward from Pratt Community College, made 14 of 19 shots to score 34 points.

Reach Paul Suellentrop at 316-269-6760 or psuellentrop@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @paulsuellentrop.

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