New Rules Still Puzzling Matta
By Rob Ogden
College coaches are split over a couple rule changes that will go into effect this season. Thad Matta isn't sure where he stands, in part because he's not quite sure how the rules will affect his team.
"I don't know yet. I've gotta see it," Matta said. "I've gotta see it for a couple of weeks. For all of us, I think we're looking at saying, 'Okay, we've got about a two-, three-week window where we have to look at this and analyze.' It may be subtle changes, it may be big changes that we have to make just in terms both offensively and defensively to adjust and as coaches try to gain an advantage."
The most significant of the rule changes are regarding block/charge calls and hand-check calls.
One rule will make it so defensive players must be set before the ball handler leaves his feet in order to draw a charge.
Defensive players will no longer be permitted to slide into the path of an offensive player with the ball in an attempt to draw a charge once he has started his upward motion to attempt a shot or pass.
Officials will also be cracking down on hand-check fouls. The rule will also prohibit the use of arm-bars by defensive players.
According to the NCAA, the new rules will allow the game to flow at a smoother pace while also making it less physical.
Ohio State point guard Aaron Craft, a Big Ten All-Defensive team selection last season, is notorious for being a hands-on defender, but Matta said he doesn't think the rule will hinder Craft.
"From what I've seen thus far, I don't think it's going to affect him," Matta said. "I think if they stay with what they're saying, it's going to affect the bad defenders, because they can't move their feet as well. And I say that in the most complimentary way to Aaron because I think the thing he does better than anybody in the country is moves his feet. He's got the ability laterally to really move. He's got great lower body strength. So I don't really see that being an issue for him in terms of he's not a guy that grabs and holds, because he's always there with his feet. So I think he should be in pretty good shape."
In Sunday's exhibition game against Walsh, Craft finished with four fouls as the officials appeared to put the new rule to use on more than one occasion.
Though he doesn't think it will affect Craft too much, Matta said the rule has changed the way they call fouls in practice.
"It's been a big emphasis in practice," he said. "We're not officials, we'll do the best that we can, but we've had to alter what we've called in practice in terms of the hand-checking. I thought we did a great job of playing without fouling (Sunday). There were a couple 25-30 feet from the basket. We gotta get that straightened out."
Bo Ryan's Wisconsin teams consistently rank in the top of the Big Ten in scoring defense every season. For Ryan, all he's concerned about is consistency.
"The key will be: Are we going to be consistent all the way through the year on how it's called, because we're going to teach to the rule," Ryan said. "So if you're teaching to it and practicing it, you just hope that it's the same all the way throughout the season. That's all I'm hoping for."
The new rules, both favoring offense, could play a part in increased scoring around the country. The 67.5 points per game averaged a season ago was the lowest average since the 1981-1982 season.
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