Charging rule a non-factor so far

Updated: January 22, 2010, 4:31 PM ET
Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- When the NCAA announced rules changes for this season, coaches across the nation started complaining. Didn't even wait for the first whistle.

Maybe they should have.

A little over halfway into the season and the one rule change the coaches were so worried about -- the charge-under-the-basket rule -- hasn't been much of factor.

"I've been to 35 games in person and I have yet to see that play occur meeting the parameters of the rule," said John Adams, the NCAA's coordinator for men's basketball officiating. "I watch games at home with DVR with a remote in my hand and run a play three or four times and still can't get a guy standing completely under the basket."

Every year, the NCAA goes over the rules for men's basketball, looking for changes or interpretations that might help the game. This year's batch, as has been the case in many rule changes in recent years, were designed to clean up some of the physical play under the basket.

One caught coaches' attention right away: prohibiting secondary defenders from taking a charge directly under the basket.

The rule was designed to prevent some of the violent crashes in the paint that have increased in college basketball in recent years. Many coaches and officials were concerned there was nothing on the court to define the area, making it a judgment call on whether the player was standing under the basket.

Turns out it's been just fine without the line.

Coaches teach players not to take charges under the rim anyway -- many will tape an X to the practice floor to prevent it -- so the adjustment hasn't been too tough. The officials, after calling a few too many blocking fouls early in the season for Adams' taste, have seamlessly added the rule to their checklist of things to watch.

The rule, like the line, has been virtually invisible.

"I haven't really noticed it," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "If I haven't noticed it, at least in our games, I wouldn't say we've had issues with it at all."

The dotted line issue is, well, still an issue.

Even though the rule has worked, coaches and referees still would like to have a line like the NBA uses to determine where a player is standing. The restricted area in college basketball is much smaller than the NBA's, which extends three feet from the basket, so it's even tougher on officials to make a call without a line to prove it.

"I've talked to referees and I kind of feel bad for them because it's really a judgment call and the kind of angle you have," Texas Tech coach Pat Knight said. "They're just trying to do the best they can and I really do feel bad for them. They've got to at least paint a line because it'll get fans and coaches to stop arguing if we see someone outside the line."

The rest of the rule changes/points of emphasis seem to be working, for the most part.

The NCAA asked officials to look closer at 3-second calls, call more fouls when a player is impeded -- not just if it creates an advantage -- and pay more attention to flagrant fouls, particularly excessive elbow swinging.

The rules have cleaned up some of the wrestling matches under the basket, though there still are cage matches like Monday's Big 12 brute-fest between No. 10 Kansas State and top-ranked Texas. Sometimes, it's just unavoidable.

"Just the size of the players and the athletic presence you have, especially in the Big 12, you're going to have physical play," Baylor coach Scott Drew said.

Problem is, the physicality isn't just under the basket anymore. It's extended to the perimeter, where defenders aren't just stepping in front of dribblers, they're sticking out knees, hips, using arm guards to block their path.

That needs to stop, Adams says.

"I think there's been real improvement in rough play in the post, but I think it's starting to move it's way out to the perimeter where it's hips and thighs and knees," he said. "We've got to do a better job on the perimeter."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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