State head coach Thad Matta talks with an official
during an NCAA college basketball game against Penn
State, Wednesday, March 4, 2015, in State College, Pa.
Ohio State won 77-67.
— One year after the NCAA changed how rules were enforced
to open up the game, men's basketball looks a lot like it
throws and scoring increased at the start of last season
with a new emphasis on eliminating some of the physical
play, especially around the basket. Those statistics leveled
off as the season went along — and they are now back to
near where they were two years ago.
college basketball has gone back in time.
almost like when you clean out your garage in the spring,
get it nice and orderly and it looks great, and then over
time you put the bicycle here, throw a couple of balls
there," Xavier coach Chris Mack said. "You don't
have time to clean it again and the next thing you know, it
looks like your garage from a year ago. I think that's
literally what has happened to our game."
decided to crack down on physical play after the 2012-13
season, when scoring ended up at just 66.8 points per game,
according to STATS. That was its lowest since 1951-52,
before the shot clock and long before the 3-pointer.
were told to stop defensive players from using their
forearms or hands to gain advantage. They couldn't impede a
player cutting through the lane. The block-charge call was
throws and scoring all went up, though the numbers leveled
off and began receding as the season went along, according
to STATS. Now, the numbers are much closer to where they
were two years ago.
forward Kelan Martin (30) goes up for a shot against
Xavier center Matt Stainbrook (40) in the first half
of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 21,
2015, in Cincinnati.
crackdown, scoring jumped to 74.5 points the following
November. It was back down to 67.8 last month, according to
fouls and free throws also are down noticeably from the
start of last season, though still slightly higher than
before the rules were tweaked. After foul fests at the start
of last season that averaged 24.1 free throws per team in
November, the number is down to 20.5.
players think that everyone — fans and referees included
— quickly tired of those hard-to-watch games with all the
free throws at the start of last season.
think they saw maybe a little backlash: 'Hey, we're not here
to watch people shoot free throws,'" Xavier center Matt
Stainbrook said. "Although the points go up, the
excitement doesn't necessarily go up with that."
head coach Chris Mack, right, talks with guard Myles
Davis, left, during the second half of an NCAA college
basketball game against Villanova, Saturday, Feb. 28,
2015, in Cincinnati. Villanova won 78-66.
Wellman, who was the chairman of the NCAA Division I
basketball committee when the changes were implemented,
thinks players have adapted to the rules, resulting in fewer
fouls. Also, he thinks that the officials — who are
independent contractors — backed off on some of the
whistles as the season went along.
the beginning of last year especially, there was a lot of
criticism because of the number of fouls called and the
number of free throws," said Wellman, who is Wake
Forest's director of athletics. "It became a
free-throw-shooting contest rather than watching the
athleticism of the players. The officials may have backed
off a little bit, but the players adjusted exceptionally
the rules aren't being enforced the same way.
year, they put them in, so they were trying to stay on top
of it and make sure everybody knew," Baylor junior
forward Taurean Prince said. "But now they're letting
watch a lot of video of games over the season and see things
unfolding the way they did two years ago.
the board, from what I've seen, we're back to where we were,
which is probably what it needs to be," Ohio State
coach Thad Matta said.
and other post players agree that officials in general have
remained stricter about not allowing the use of forearms or
hands to gain advantage inside, and they're more aware of
said he thinks the game is better overall now than two years
ago, although something needs to be done about all the
fouling and free throws in the final minutes of a close game
that can result in a lot of dead time.
we're moving in the right direction," Wellman said.
"The game is being played in a manner that's pleasing
to the fans and the way we like to enjoy college basketball.
I think there's adjustments we need to consider."
aren't surprised that the experiment with the rules didn't
last very long.
dealing with 30-year traditions of how our game is dictated,
how it's officiated," Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin
said. "I don't think it's anybody's fault. In our game,
it's just how it is."