This year at Hinkle Fieldhouse, fans may notice an abundance of short, high-pitched noises during a basketball game.
No, it’s not a flock of birds in the rafters. It’s whistles. And this season, referees will be using theirs a lot.
The NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules Committee added some new rules to college basketball before this season. The new rules ban a player from making arm or forearm contact with another player.
The rule was put into place for one reason: To increase scoring. By removing hand and forearm contact from the game, the NCAA is hoping that offenses will now be able to run more fluidly and, according to the NCAA, “create offensive flow.”
Last season, NCAA basketball teams averaged 67.5 points per game. This was the lowest average since 1981.
We are only a few games into the season and we are already seeing an increased scoring output from college basketball teams — but not the kind of scoring the NCAA intended.
Yes, teams are scoring more, but it is only because of a dramatic increase in the amount of free throws a team is taking.
Now, when a player puts his hand or arm on a player—something that was commonplace in basketball for decades—it gets called a foul. Get enough fouls, and teams start shooting free throws.
Last season, a typical college basketball game would result in one team shooting around 30 free throws. This season, some teams are shooting upwards of 60 or 70 free throws in one game.
In a recent game between Seton Hall and Niagara, the teams racked up 73 fouls, totaling 102 free throw attempts.
All these trips to the free throw line also slow down the game considerably. Every time a foul is called, the clock is stopped. This is resulting in games, which would normally be played in roughly two hours, lasting closer to three.
I can assure you that no fan wants to sit around and watch players shooting free throws for three hours.
Over the past decade, Butler has been one of the most physical teams in college basketball. And, yes, when playing defense, they used their hands very often.
This current Bulldogs roster is full of physical defenders. Sophomore Devontae Morgan is one of the best, in my opinion.
With these new rules, the Bulldogs, and the entirety of college basketball, are being asked to change the way they play defense.
“There’s really nothing we can do,” Morgan said. “We just have to play defense and hope the refs don’t call it. You can’t adjust to it.”
Assistant coach Michael Lewis said the team talks about the new rules in practice, but it has not changed its defensive strategy.
It is impossible for any team to adjust to these new rules in the span of a few months. For as long as basketball has existed, players have used their hands to play defense.
Every player is now expected to disregard everything he was taught in such a short period of time.
Imagine Khyle Marshall, all 6’6 and 220 pounds of him, driving to the basket. The only thing in his way is you.
Now you have to stop him. But wait. You are not allowed to use your arms or hands.
Yes, this is going to be a great college basketball season.
Just make sure to bring your earplugs to the games. All those whistles are going to get annoying.