How the Defensive Rule Change Will Be a Disaster for College Basketball

Kaitlin MurphyContributor IIINovember 10, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 29:  Head coach Rick Pitino of the Louisville Cardinals reacts as he coaches in the second half against the Oregon Ducks during the Midwest Region Semifinal round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 29, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Anyone ever heard the basketball term "bumping the cutter?"  That doesn't exist any more in college basketball.

Well, at least not legally.

Anyone ever heard of a charge?  That barely exists either.  In a few years the charge call will be what record players are to kids who have iPods—obsolete.

The NCAA has changed quite a few defensive rules in the hopes of a more "open" game. Also known as, they want more scoring.

Here are the rule changes per

The following types of personal fouls should be called consistently:

  • When a defensive player keeps a hand or forearm on an opponent;
  • When a defensive player puts two hands on an opponent;
  • When a defensive player continually jabs by extending his arm(s) and placing a hand or forearm on the opponent;
  • When a player uses an arm bar to impede the progress of an opponent.

Here is the block/charge rule change explained per (linked above):

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.

To put the new charge rule into perspective, here is what one referee said about the new rule, as reported by Elton Alexander of,  "We had a power point seminar with 200 bang-bang, block-charge calls from last year.  Last year, those calls were 50-50. Now, maybe 25 out of 200 would actually be charge calls."

Last season was the lowest scoring season in college basketball since the 1951-52 season, per the Associated Press (via Sporting News).  Producing lots of points is definitely a more exciting game.  A more exciting game will attract more fans.  More fans means more money.


But it is definitely going to make for a frustratingly boring season this year, as players, coaches and officials adjust to the new rules.

Take a look at those rules again.  Basically if a defender can't keep up with an offensive player with just his feet, he has committed a foul.

Bumped the cutter.  Foul.

Jabbed at the ball and accidentally got the offensive player. Foul.

Offensive player drives to the basket and the player doesn't completely move out of the way, that's what we call "Ole" defense.  Foul.

Tried to take a charge. Most likely foul.

Post defense.  Foul.

OK, that last one may be excessive, but seriously, how do you defend the post without at some point putting two hands on a player, using an armbar to impede the progress of an opponent or keeping a hand or armbar on opponent?

That's not college basketball.  That's pick-up basketball.

Either way, eventually this will make for more open lay-ups, more movement within an offense and a more "fluid" game, but for now, for this season, it will make for very frustrating games for players, coaches and fans. 

Have you ever watched a game with 40 or more free throws?  I have.  It's awful.  It's the opposite of fluid. 

There are barely any possessions without a whistle blown.  With so many fouls called, the teams are bound to be in the bonus by at least 10 minutes in the half, then the double bonus soon after.  The clock stops.  The players shoot a free throw, and then the next time down, it happens all over again.

Very ugly basketball.

Frustrating basketball.

Here are some Division I coaches voicing their opinions on the new rules:

Most of the coaches don't seem too pleased with the new rule change.

They bring up a lot of good points.

The fans come to watch their favorite players play.  With the new rules, their favorite players could very well be standing on the free-throw line watching someone shoot with the game clock stopped or sitting on the bench in foul trouble.

What if Andrew Wiggins, who probably has the most hype surrounding him of any college basketball player ever, gets two quick fouls within 10 minutes of play and has to sit for the remainder of the first half, then picks up his third at the start of the second half?  The most popular player in college basketball who has been compared to just about every great basketball player on the planet is sitting on the bench.

That's frustrating for the player, for the coach who worked hard to recruit that player and for the fans who just bought tickets to see that player play.

What about fans who will buy tickets to March Madness?  Or the Final Four?  

You thought the previous March Madness was crazy, this year's will be completely unpredictable.  

Maybe some players and teams adjust to the new rules by March, but what about those hard-nosed defensive teams like Duke University, whose defense guides them deep into the tournament almost every year.  

These teams' seasons may be cut short.  If not because of their inability to adjust to the rules, they may lose a "one and done" game in March because the Jabari Parker picked up too many fouls too soon, or he fouled out.

The rule changes will more than likely produce more fluid and exciting basketball filled with high-scoring games in the future, but not this season.  There may be more scoring if the teams are good free-throw shooters.  But besides that, there will be more coaches shaking their heads, throwing their hands up in disbelief, hitting their heads with their hands and pulling deep from their bench when their stars are in foul trouble.