It will be much harder to take a charge this year, but KU defenders aren’t worried

photo by: AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Kansas' Dajuan Harris Jr. talks to the media during the NCAA college Big 12 men's basketball media day Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023, in Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas City, Mo. — The charge signal — that hand-behind-head, opposite-way point that can be so demoralizing for one basketball team and exhilarating for the other — will be a much rarer sight at Big 12 Conference games this season.

Big 12 Coordinator of Officials Curtis Shaw said at the league’s men’s basketball media day Wednesday that the conference intends to call far more blocking fouls than charges this year, and has been too liberal in calling charges in the past. Shaw said that the rules committee does not want to reward “bad defense” by calling an excessive number of charging fouls when a second defender comes over to help.

“The new rule is the defense must be set and stationary before the offensive player’s plant foot touches the ground,” Shaw said. “In the past it was before it left the floor.”

In a sample of 100 charges the officials reviewed, Shaw said, 96 will now be called blocking fouls.

“Your default call is a block,” Shaw said. “If there’s any doubt, it’s a block. As one guy put it on the rules committee, unless my grandmother is sitting in the 10th row (and) can say ‘Oh, that man was standing there forever,’ it’s a block.”

The goal, Shaw says, is to emphasize verticality on defense, and also prevent injuries by discouraging players from letting themselves get run over so much.

The Kansas men’s basketball team received a presentation from officials Tuesday, said redshirt junior point guard Dajuan Harris Jr., and Shaw said he had already visited 11 of 14 schools in the new Big 12.

“Now if they leave that foot and you’re not there right away, it’s a block automatically,” Harris said.

But Harris, who was the conference’s defensive player of the year last season and averaged more than two steals per game, wasn’t altogether concerned about the rule change. He was confident in his own instincts and his ability to outrace an opposing player to a given defensive spot.

More broadly, though, he said the team is sufficiently defensively sound that he doesn’t expect to take many charges at all.

“That ain’t nothing to worry about because I got other defensive players around me,” Harris said.

It helps to have a teammate like Kevin McCullar Jr., who has twice been named a semifinalist for national defensive player of the year. He was on the Big 12’s all-defensive team with Harris last season and was similarly unbothered by the rule change.

“Just got to guard the ball and guard my man,” he said.


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