Death To The Charge Change, And Other Rules

Submitted by Brian on May 12th, 2014 at 11:31 AM


They did call this, but no one knew why or how

You guys! I'm super pumped that I wasn't the only one spasming at the injustice of it all when someone—anyone—tried to take a charge last year. Obvious charges were blocks. Obvious blocks were blocks, except sometimes you got a hilarious charge call off an obvious block despite the new charge-hating regime. John Beilein muttered about it politely, and I was reverse Otto.

Turns out that everyone hated it, and now the NCAA is (probably) rolling the change back, because everyone hated it. Here is the realtalk reason why:

Byrd said NCAA national officiating coordinator John Adams and other officials conceded that the upward motion element made it “nearly impossible to teach (officials) how to call it and it was nearly impossible to call it with any consistency.” …

…"It just was very difficult for an official, and a defender for that matter, to know when [that happened]. The great part about when he leaves the floor, it’s really the only definitive act, the only definitive instance an official can determine. And the upward motion was subjective.”

Amen. Even if you want to reduce the viability of the charge as a defensive strategy, you have to do it in a black and white way. Personally I've never felt charges were out of control. If I was NCAA God I'd conjure forth a flood to wipe away the face of the association, and then afterwards I'd leave charges pretty much as they are with two exceptions:

  • It's automatically a block if you take the contact when the player is on his way down. These kinds of calls evaporated last year due to the rule change but may come back now that they're rolling it back. If you can't close enough while the guy is still going up, it should be a block, as impeding a guy's landing is dangerous and you didn't really play defense if the ball has been gone for a beat or two by the time you make contact. Any play that a ref would award a bucket and then an offensive foul should be an and-one.
  • Flops are fouls. Simulation should be penalized as it is in soccer and hockey. Note that trying to take a charge is not simulation. The event against Tennessee above is definitely Jordan Morgan trying to take a charge. It's not simulation since Stokes ran him over with his shoulder down. Morgan is in a precarious position if Stokes does not and may end up falling over if he guesses wrong, in which case he should get called.

The new guideline:

In order to take a charge, the alteration will require a defending player to be in legal guarding position before the airborne player leaves the floor to pass or shoot. Additionally, the defending player is not allowed to move in any direction before contact occurs (except vertically to block a shot).

Improvement, certainly. Even so I'd simplify way you make the determination: if you get plowed in the chest while square and moving perpendicular to (or away from) the guy with the ball it's a charge. A lot of people are still bitching about the Morgan call against Syracuse because they've seen it in super-slow motion and in that Morgan is not dead still the entire time. As long as a guy isn't leaning or moving into the defender (and he gets there when he' still on the floor), it should be a charge. Make it as easy as possible to call. If this is too charge-friendly, extend the circle to NBA dimensions and ruthlessly call floppers.

But whatever, man. I'll take it. As far as impact on Michigan goes: it's a positive for anyone who relies on positioning and smarts over being the Sultan of Swat. So thumbs up.

The rest of the basketball rules chattering went well, at least from my perspective: it sounds like they're going to try to wrest a single timeout away from coaches and are pondering this change:

Committee members also recommended an experimental rule involving timeouts, with an eye on potentially using this in the Postseason NIT. In this proposal, when a team calls a timeout within 30 seconds of the next scheduled media timeout (first dead ball under the 16-, 12-, 8-, and 4-minute marks), that timeout will become the media timeout.

Yes, please.

Meanwhile, there wasn't much support for widening the lane or reducing the 35-second clock. Widening the lane is increasingly pointless in today's shooting-heavy game; shortening the shot clock without reining in zones and making everyone an NBA player leads to more ugly shots and little else.



The one other thing that seems like maybe a big deal are a series of changes to (or at least increased emphasis on) various aspects of post play:

A defensive player pushing a leg or knee into the rear of the offensive player shall be a personal foul on the defender;

Is this not already the case?

An offensive player dislodging a defensive player from an established position by pushing or backing in shall be a personal foul on the offensive player;

This is the most extreme change, and it's hard to see it getting called. Backing a guy down is a time-honored tradition. Meanwhile, preventing that is some advanced defensive juju that remains possible—Morgan managed it very well. Suddenly removing that from the offensive guy's arsenal severely limits his ability to do much unless the post feed puts him in a spot he wants to shoot from.

This seems like the kind of rule that gets called a ton early in the season, gradually evaporates in the second half, and then is quietly rolled back.

A player using the “swim stroke” arm movement to lower the arm of an opponent shall be charged with a personal foul;

Okay. If I am interpreting this correctly they're emphasizing that the off arm can't be used to bat away hands when a guy tries to get a shot off. Hard to see this getting called much even when it happens since refs are trying to track 30 other things. It's unclear, though. Do defenders do this?

Post players using hands, forearms or elbows to prevent an opponent from maintaining a legal position shall be charged with a personal foul.

This seems like a point of emphasis thing on something that's already an foul, and that cuts both ways.

Unlike the offense-friendly hand-check changes of a year ago, these seem slanted to the defense. The one change obviously in the offense's favor seems way less impactful than removing the ability to back a guy down. If my read is correct those changes are pretty good for Michigan, which posts up about twice a season. Meanwhile, Wisconsin is probably thrilled with all of this.



May 12th, 2014 at 12:55 PM ^

i've never understood why they don't implement a gray area where there is just no call.  play on.  a charge or a block can be very punitive for one team; especially if it's the wrong call.  so i say play on unless it's obvious in one direction or the other.


May 12th, 2014 at 1:00 PM ^

"An offensive player dislodging a defensive player from an established position by pushing or backing in shall be a personal foul on the offensive player"

So glad to hear this.  The whole "backing someone down" strategy is such BS.  In order for it to work, you push backwards, but not too much or that's a foul.  in order to defend against it, you push forwards (to hold your ground), but not too much - or thats a foul too.

All we end up with is two men trying to passive-agressively [push] each other without looking too much like they're doing so, and that's a viable offensive strategy?



May 12th, 2014 at 1:07 PM ^

I appreciate clear and concise rules, but so much of the core parts of sports officiating is judgment anyway: fouls, traveling, pass interference, holding, safe/out, ball/strike. 

I would prefer they just let it be the refs discretion to call the foul on who initiats the contact. It's fairly easy to see in the flow of action. This also leaves it open to being a no call instead of having to assign a foul when two players are both moving to the same open space on the floor. (i.e. for a loose or jump ball)


May 12th, 2014 at 1:09 PM ^

The swim stroke is a common practice when trying to establish position in the post to receive an entry pass. It can be executed by either the offensive player trying to open a passing angle into himself, or the defensive player trying to close down a passing angle.


May 12th, 2014 at 1:18 PM ^

I'd tell all the officials to just watch what Wisconsin has done for a decade and call those as fouls, and treat everything UM does on offense as optimal, and everything should sort itself out.

Also, I'd love a 3X bonus against any team that slaps the court on defense and then gives up points.  


May 12th, 2014 at 3:50 PM ^

The rule changes will not apply to Dook.  Any Dook player trying to take a charge will get the call regardless of how obvious it is that it is a block.  Any player from another team trying to take a charge against a Dook player will be called for blocking.


May 12th, 2014 at 5:57 PM ^

Does that last post move rule paragraph mean theyre finally going to start calling that hook move that Webber used to get called for all the time that nobody else ever gets called for?

Mr. Yost

May 12th, 2014 at 9:11 PM ^

Julius Randle got out at the right time because some of his bullyball is going to be called. You can't just move guys in legal guarding position out of your way at will. I'm not talking on the shot, I'm talking before the shot.

He'd catch the ball at the elbow, hulk his way through 2-3 guys that are in established position and get a lay-up because there was no one left to take a charge or contest the shot. He was Sonic or Mario with the super power down the lane.

steve sharik

May 12th, 2014 at 11:35 PM ^

Call the game to reflect the meaning of the words.

Charge: when an offensive player charges into a defensive player.

Block: when a defensive player blocks an offensive player from his natural path.

In other words, whoever initiates contact gets the foul.  Forget the feet being set, forget the silly "crease" under the hoop, forget all the other nonsense.  It's a pure judgment call on the officials on who intended to contact whom.  Don't like it? TFB.

This also would mean (rightfully so) that offensive players who shot fake and then take an unnatural shooting trajectory to draw a foul on an airborne defender gets an offensive foul.  Players are supposed to be entitled to land without contact unless the "landee" was there minding his own business in the first place.


May 13th, 2014 at 1:56 AM ^

The 35 second clock needs to be shortened. A team of 5 D-1 athletes shouldn't need 35 freaking seconds to shoot a good basketball shot. Maybe instead of running so much clock, folks would run an actual offense and get into it ASAP.