Did the NCAA Finally Get the Block/Charge Rule Right?

C.J. MooreCollege Basketball National Lead WriterJune 26, 2013

DAYTON, OH - MARCH 24: Aaron Craft #4 of the Ohio State Buckeyes is helped up off the court by LaQuinton Ross #10 after a play against the Iowa State Cyclones in the second half during the third round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at UD Arena on March 24, 2013 in Dayton, Ohio.  (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

Bravo to the NCAA for realizing that the charge/block call in college basketball needed to be redefined.

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved a change this week to how the charge/block is called. 

Under the revised block/charge call in men’s basketball, a defensive player is not permitted to move into the path of an offensive player once he has started his upward motion with the ball to attempt a field goal or pass. If the defensive player is not in legal guarding position by this time, it is a blocking foul. Previously, a defender had to be in legal guarding position when the offensive player lifted off the floor.

What this means is that the defender needs to be set about a step earlier than in the past. This should lead to fewer charges.

This is not the first rule change in recent years to accomplish this. Adding a semicircle under the basket was supposed to do the same thing. There is not any good data out there to say whether it has succeeded, but most officials would tell you it has only made things more confusing.

Look no further than Heelgate from Ohio State’s victory over Iowa State in the Round of 32 this past year. You remember the play. Iowa State’s Will Clyburn drove to the basket, and Aaron Craft raced underneath him and lifted his heel so that he was not on the semicircle line.

The call on the floor was a charge, and the controversy was whether Craft’s heel was lifted or on the line. There shouldn’t have been a controversy, because it didn’t matter where Craft’s heel was. He ran underneath of Clyburn, and it should have been a block. Under the new wording, that would be a clear charge.

But under the old ruling, it should have been a charge as well. The confusion that the line has created is that officials’ eyes go straight to the feet to check the semicircle. It’s almost impossible for the baseline official to see the defender’s feet, where the defender is when the offensive player takes off and at what angle the collision occurs.

The hope is that with the new wording of the rule, officials will be more focused on the offensive player. The hope should also be that the official behind the play helps out and focuses on where the defender is when the offensive player begins his upward motion.

Redefining who makes the call would be helpful as well. It would be beneficial to encourage two officials to collaborate on the call. 

But this is something. And the NCAA means well. Credit the NCAA for doing everything it can to try to fix scoring, which needs fixing.

As I wrote in May, count me in as someone who is skeptical that the block/charge call will be enforced differently, but at least they're making an effort.