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KU freshman Frank Mason: New rules will be 'crazy to watch'


Through the years, college basketball grew increasingly too physical, making it more difficult for gifted offensive players to make crowd-pleasing plays.

So the NCAA moved in the offseason to change the way the game is called by restricting the defensive players’ use of hands and arms.

If players were able to make the necessary adjustments immediately, the game would instantly become prettier, more telegenic, which would lead to higher TV ratings and more money generated.

Unfortunately, old habits are extremely difficult to break. In the short term, more fouls will be called, leading to an uglier game because all the stops will keep players from getting into a rhythm. More whistles will mean longer games, which could cause problems for networks as games bleed into other programs, backing everything up. Few things irk a passionate fan base more than missing the start of a game because teams they don't care about haven't finished their games yet.

So the basic question is this: Will TV networks have the stomach and patience to withstand the short-term pain of excessive whistles resulting in uglier, longer games in hopes that once the players adjust the result will be a more graceful game than we’ve seen in years? Or will network power brokers get antsy and try to lobby for a return to the old way of calling basketball games, enabling them to revert to low-scoring bloodbaths?

Last season was college basketball’s lowest-scoring one in 61 years, 1952 to be exact, which was 61 years after Dr. James Naismith invented the game.

More freedom of movement for offensive players makes for a more enjoyable game to watch, but the transition period is not going to be an easy one for the players.

“It’s had a huge effect for me, I can say, I’m pretty sure for the other guys too,” Kansas University freshman point guard Frank Mason said. “On the perimeter you can’t use your hands at all. You just have to get your hands wide and slide your feet. That’s a big adjustment."

KU has far more quickness than most teams, so the rules changes will help the Jayhawks more than most teams on offense and hurt them more than most on defense because they always have played a physical brand of ball.

“I think there will be a lot of fouls called (on opponents) if we’re aggressive and attack more because eventually, they’ll forget, not forget, but maybe just put their hands on you and some guys will be in foul trouble,” Mason said. “I don’t know. It’s going to be crazy to watch this year. I don’t know what to say about it. New rule. Just trying to kind of adjust to it. Even sometimes you just forget and even if you just touch the offensive player, they’ll call a foul. We’re just trying to adjust to that. It’s different.”

Below is the content of an e-mail from spokesman David Worlock of the NCAA office in Indianapolis, explaining the changes in how certain calls will be made this season:


2013-14 Season Communication Points

The leadership of the NCAA Men’s Basketball rules and officiating functions are providing this document to clarify the major changes and intended outcomes as final 2013-14 preparations are underway. The two major topics are Defending the Player with the Ball and the Block/Charge play. The rules that the committee adjusted in May have been part of basketball in some form for many years. The interpretation and application, through time, loosened and a more physical style of play resulted. The committee decided a correction was needed in these two areas to improve the game and ensure a balance between offense and defense.


What Changed: Several officiating guidelines were voted in as rules, which raised the expectation and importance in this area. Four types of illegal tactics were cited:
1) Placing and keeping a hand/forearm on opponent.
2) Putting two hands on opponent.
3) Continually jabbing by placing hand or forearm on opponent.
4) Using an arm bar to impede the progress of the dribbler.

Please note that simply touching the player with the ball is NOT an automatic foul.

Intended Outcomes:

  • Defenders will need to move their feet as opposed to using their arms/hands to negate an offensive opportunity.
  • Increased emphasis will create a less physical game.
  • Enhancement of freedom of movement principles and a smoother game flow.


What Changed: In a review of recent seasons, two types of plays were identified as the most difficult to call correctly: Defenders moving forward at the time of contact (even though the contact may occur in the defender’s torso) and the time frame when the defender must be in legal guarding position during airborne shooter situations. Now, when a player begins his upward motion to pass or shoot, the defender must be in legal guarding position.

Intended Outcomes: The expectation is that by providing a longer time frame for the officials to see the actions of both the offense and the defense, the accuracy of officiating these plays will improve. It is important to note that there is no default call in this rule; officials are to call the play as it develops.


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