We all hate it. At least, I think we all hate it. The idea that the most minuscule level of contact from an offensive player causes the defender to go down, the referee puts one hand behind their head and uses the other to point the opposite way, and the crowd boos as players spend more time acting like they took a bullet as opposed to playing actual defense.
For years, a rule that was well-intentioned in trying to reward a defender who was in an established guarding position and had the right to their space has morphed into a blight on the game. As the speed of the game has increased and the size of the athletes have grown, it has become so difficult to fully judge when someone legitimately goes down because of contact, or if they were just going down to draw a call. The NBA has tried to fix this with flopping penalties, and in general it has worked. The NCAA adopted the arc, but if anything it’s hurt more than it’s helped because now referees are looking more for where the contact happened and not the actual action.
The best solution? Just ban the charge call altogether. The NCAA won’t do that, but they’ll at least try to make it easier to detect flopping by redefining what is and isn’t a charge.
On Friday, the NCAA Rules Committee announced it’s group of proposed rule changes for the upcoming season. They move on to the Oversight Panel for approval on June 8th, so they aren’t official, yet, but usually when the Rules Committee comes to an agreement on the recommendations they move forward.
The big one is a further definition of the block/charge call:
Under the recommendation, a defender would have to be in position to draw a charge at the time an offensive player plants his foot to go airborne to attempt a field goal. If the defender arrives after the offensive player plants a foot to launch toward the basket, officials would be instructed to call a block when contact occurs between the two players.
A secondary defender still would have to be outside the restricted-area arc to legally draw a charge.
Currently, defenders must be in position to draw a charge before the offensive player goes airborne.
This should allow for some more freedom of movement, and ultimately cut out the situation where someone slides under an offensive player and goes to the ground. Before, essentially, a player could be somewhat airborne and the defender could get there at the same time, contact happens, and it’s a charge. This change basically means that once the player begins their motion to go up to the basket, any contact is automatically a block.
The difference seems small, as someone still has to be going up and there will be bang-bang plays, but now with that distinction — that the offensive player is entitled to their space the moment they are going up instead of when they are up in the air — should make it to where those bang-bang plays will be tilted more to the offensive player. It will force defenders to make a decision sooner about whether they will stand their ground or risk a foul.
It’s not going to end all charges, as there still seems to be a plague of defenders going down easy when players start driving in any direction, not necessarily to the basket, but the intent of the rule change is clear: if a player had enough movement to get to the basket and start a drive there, then they are entitled to get there without contact. If it passes, it may end up with a frustrating amount of calls as players who had been taught to slide in see those calls go against them now. Hopefully after a few games, and some high-profile incidents at holiday tournaments, folks will get used to it and the flow will be a lot better.
It’s not the only proposed change. You can read all of them from the NCAA above, but the big one that will create a visual change to college basketball is the proposal where players can now wear any number from 1-99. Eight years ago, the New York Times had a story on college basketball numbers. No one could remember when this rule that you are limited to 0-5 for first and last numbers (so 00-5, 10-15, and so on) officially made its way to the rulebook, but it’s point was to make it easier for referees to signal who a foul was on. because, when they hold up a “1” on one hand and a “5” on the other, the scorer doesn’t have to wonder if the referee means “6” or “15.”
Never mind the NBA has been allowing the full range of numbers forever and the referees seemed to have figured it out.
This rule change was probably needed as more blue-blood programs retire more numbers which start to severely restrict the other numbers that are available. Players are also choosing numbers based on their favorite NBA players-but when they get to college they can’t wear Kobe Bryant’s 8, LeBron James’ 6, or Luka Doncic’s 77. Now the whole range of numbers will be opened up.
There doesn’t appear to be an exception for any specific numbers, so you know someone will beg to be 69, especially if their last name is Nice.
Do you think the tweaks will help lessen the amount of charges? Let us know in the comments.