Death to the charge!

Submitted by Needs on March 25th, 2013 at 9:45 AM

In the wake of the Aaron Craft charging call, people are finally starting to seriously question the way in which NCAA refs overcall charging. 

USA Today's Chris Chase


The problem, perhaps, isn't with the call, it's with the idea that college basketball rewards defensive players for sliding into position and standing still rather than playing defense.… NBC Sports

This may be the most notable blown charge call in this year’s tournament, but it certainly isn’t the first. It’s an epidemic, really. Referees, who are now forced to focus on when a defender has their feet and whether or not they are outside the charge circle, are missing more and more calls under the basket. The Flagrant 1 elbow rule needs to be the first thing addressed by the rules committee this offseason, as that’s easily the worst rule in college basketball. But the referees need to get together and figure out how to start calling charges and blocks correctly.… Jay Bilas (who's been on this all season)

On the charge call, college basketball refs repeatedly call charges on clear blocks. It is an epidemic, and a failure. We can do better.


Someone's even started a #EverythingsACharge hashtag on twitter.


Charges should be rare and obvious calls. Charges should not be able to be "drawn," they should only be called in the case of violent and careless offensive play. Any 50/50 calls should go to the offensive player until college basketball stamps out the epidemic of defenders getting in the way and falling over. In particular, it needs to eliminate charging calls when help defenders slide over and don't contest the ball.

Drawing a charge is not defense, it's just getting in the way. It encourages flopping. It's dangerous, as it frequently undercuts an airborne player. And it discourages exciting plays where defenders contest offensive players going to the rim in the air. And in general, charging cheapens the game.

Death to the Charge!


Son of Lloyd Brady

March 25th, 2013 at 9:51 AM ^

I was just talking about this yesterday. The call allows teams to play horribly lazy perimeter defense as long as somebody is quick enough to run and stop in front of a driver. Totally agree with eliminating the call, except of course for absolutely blatant attempts by the offensive player to clear out a defender with a non-basketball move (i.e. push/shove).


March 25th, 2013 at 5:38 PM ^

Being a hoops player myself, the worst is when offensive players just blast down the lane out of control and run into defensive players.  If the defense doesn't have their feet set, it is a foul on them even though **cough** the dwayne wades of the world are completely out of control on their drives.  The other part of this is the ass push (think Shaq or MSU's Nix).  They just ass bump people out of the way.  Should be a foul.  Flopping is stupid, lazy defense is no good, but the out of control offensive players are as much part of the problem.  


March 25th, 2013 at 6:30 PM ^

Couldn't agree more.  

It drives me nuts to see OP's like this.  As if offensive players are untouchable angles made of glass, and contact should always be the defender's fault.

How about some offensive players learn a pullup jumper from 8 feet instead of lowering their shoulder and going to the basket, knowing that most of the time the call will be in their favor?

I think that charges should be called more often.  If the defender is in a spot, but shuffles his feet just a little, and an offensive player comes barreling down the lane at full speed into the defender, it seems to be that the offensive player had the most to do with initiating contact, right?

And the "restricted area"  is silly to me.  Why is there a portion of the floor that is exclusively given to offensive players?  If the defender is in position, and gets smoked by an offensive player sprinting down the lane, why does it make a difference if his foot is on this line, or just outside it?

For those that say establishing position defensively and using your body to impede progress of an offensive player is just lazy defense, would you say that an offensive player is simply playing lazy offense if he does not avoid the defensive player trying to shoulder block him to the floor?  

Do we all understand what the game would turn into if we removed the charge?  Offensive teams full of Hulks with a handle, going to the basket like a dribbling fullback, smoking defenders, and a big shot blocker or two on defense desperately trying to avoid all contact with the ball handlers but somehow reach up and block their shot.


March 25th, 2013 at 7:52 PM ^

How often do you see a defensive player establish position, stay stationary, and then get called for a blocking foul when the offensive player jumps so as to only graze the stationary defender?

I think the solution is to let it go if the defender is stationary but the offensive player doesn't run him over in the chest.



March 25th, 2013 at 9:52 AM ^

I don't see how it's any less dangerous for players to challenge each other in mid-air.  You either have one guy jumping into a guy standing still, or you have two guys leaping at each other and colliding in mid-air.  And the thing with putting your hands up in the air (instead of just crossing them in front of your body) is that you're more likely to get called for a foul, even if you have your hands straight up in the air.

I agree that charges are being called too often, even though Michigan takes advantage of that rule quite a bit.  I think refs need to work on making the right call more often, but I don't think there's a whole lot you can do about this.  A crappy call by a ref doesn't mean the whole rule should be changed.  Maybe that ref should just be reprimanded or fined or given extra training.


March 25th, 2013 at 10:01 AM ^

On the injury issue, when you have two guys leaping in the air, the defender has to consider his own safety. They generally do. I can't think of a single injury that I've seen, apart from sprained ankles, when players contest in the air in the half court. (They are more common in the open court, but that's a different matter). When a player takes a charge, he frequently goes flying back across the lane at knee level. Murphy from Florida got a pretty significant concussion this year when he flew backwards into someone's knee. I've also seen a bunch of wrist, elbow and shoulder injuries from the undercut offensive player coming down.

On the arms up, defensive players have the right to go straight up. I'm fine with offensive fouls called on players who push off, or no calls reflecting the defensive player's right to his vertical space. That's what you see in the NBA. And it's not just a matter of better refs, it's a matter of rule interpretations designed to promote freer flowing basketball. NCAA scoring is down 2 points on average over the last year. That's a lot.

The problem isn't the refs or the innate difficulty of calls that are always going to be controversial. It's the way the rule is interpreted. Eliminate the call and you eliminate the controversy. It's pretty simple, the help defender has to contest the ball or its a foul.


March 25th, 2013 at 9:55 AM ^

The play that really irks me is when an offensive player in the post has his back to the basket and lowers his shoulder into the defender to create space.  McGary attempted to take a charge on that kind of play on Saturday and there was no call, but you see it all the time.  If a defender has body position on you and the only thing you can do is lower your shoulder to try to plow him over, it should be an offensive foul, period.  That type of play is illegal when setting a screen, it's illegal on defense, so why is it "a good non-call" when the player has the ball?


March 25th, 2013 at 10:23 AM ^

That's kind of what the whole discussion is about.  Did the defender really get hit that hard, or was he playing "lazy" defense, trying to draw the charging call?  Since there isn't a "diving" penalty in basketball, that's a good no call.  

I know I'm in the minority here, but I'm a little tired of Sherwood Brown's antics anyway.  However, I don't think he should have been called charging on this one.  


March 25th, 2013 at 11:21 AM ^

He keeps his feet planted, which makes his body act like a lever. His head moves because the rest of his upper body is moving. That should be an offensive foul even if he moves his feet to keep his balance. If the offense is allowed to push the defense out of the way, we might as well just remove the defensive aspect of the game and make it a game of Around the World.


March 25th, 2013 at 11:28 AM ^

In order to flop, you have to throw your upper body backwards.  Try doing that without keeping your feet planted.  It's a flop.  

I'd rather see the defensive player man up and hold his ground.  McGary was a perfect example of this in the first two games, especially Thursday.  The offensive player would try to back him down, but he stood his ground and forced the offensive player to throw the ball back out to the perimeter.  


March 25th, 2013 at 4:33 PM ^

Easy for you to say.  Brown uses his shoulder to gain an advantage (the definition of a foul) whether it's a flop or not.  Basketball refereeing is a joke at times.  The commentators focus on the "charge arc" under the basket, but that arc has made officiating worse.  Take the Craft charge call as an example.  A lot of time was wasted on where his feet were, but the fact is that he undercut the offensive player.  

So on the one hand, SDSU's defender had perfect defensive position, gets trucked (whether it was a flop or not is irrelevant) and there is no call.  On the other hand I've seen multiple times in this tournament where a defender gets beat off the dribble and a help defender slides under the shooter after he leaves the ground, and he gets a charge.

Coaches spend years getting their players to get into good position, and refs constantly reward bad positioning and penalize good positioning.  Drama over fundamentals.  So if you are trying to be good at basketball, learn from Reggie Miller on how to draw calls.  I'm not even hating.  He knew refs were tools who played to drama, and he was one of the best at it.

Two Hearted Ale

March 25th, 2013 at 10:46 AM ^

Absorbing the hit is self preservation.  A defender can't fight back.  If he is hit with an elbow or shoulder his options are to absorb the full force of the hit or move the opposite direction of the hit.  In either case the player initiating contact has committed a foul per rule.  If the defender moves independent of contact it is a flop.

While we are airing greivances I've had enough of the hand checking by backcourt defenders.  Anyone who as ever played basketball knows how much easier it is to control a dribbler with your hand on him.  It doesn't look like much but it really impedes the progress of the ball handler.


March 25th, 2013 at 11:05 AM ^

In its sincerest form, it is self-preservation.  I think most of the discussion here is on the embellishment of defensive players trying to draw fouls.  

I have played quite a bit of organized basketball and totally agree with your point about hand-checking.  It makes the defender's job so much easier.  It should go too.  

Space Coyote

March 25th, 2013 at 11:55 AM ^

Hand checking helps a lot. And even as someone who took liberal advantage of it often not getting called, I understand how unfair it really is, because when I was trying to defend some guy going D1 in basketball they would have blown right passed me if I hand't used it.

So yeah, it really needs to start getting called.


March 25th, 2013 at 2:44 PM ^

That's a straight up Flop, not an offensive foul.  Sometimes we have to remember that the defensive player is as big or sometimes bigger than the post player and that it's going to be really hard to get bum-rushed by said post-player; it shouldn't look that easy to get mauled hence the obvious flopping.


March 25th, 2013 at 10:05 AM ^

I'm fine with those kinds of charging calls. Primary defenders who are in position and receive aggressive contact from an offensive player (particularly a lowered shoulder or a push with the off arm) should be protected. The problem is that so many players are flopping because of the way refereeing is privileging the charge that the referees can no longer determine what contact is initiated by offensive players and what is flopping that they simply guess.



March 25th, 2013 at 10:28 AM ^

This is what so many people miss when they complain about "flopping."  It has become necessary to fall down in order to get the call.  If you have position and absorb the contact without going down - no call.  

Also, many people above are complaining about help defenders taking charges like that shouldn't be allowed.  I don't get this.  So, once you beat the on ball defender, you just put your head down and go to the basket, and the defense can't do anything to stop it?  

I agree that there is a problem with letting defenders slide in too late to take charges, but on the whole, I think the block/charge call is missed pretty equally both ways.  The real fix is 1) call it the right way (don't let someone slide in too late), and 2) don't require the defender to go down to get the call.  


March 25th, 2013 at 10:39 AM ^

I think this is a theory vs practice issue. In theory, having out of control players plow over well positioned help defenders would be a problem. But can anyone say they actually see that happening that much? What I see far more often is the late slide over and collapse in an effort to stop an aggressive offensive play.

The NCAA has pretty much told officials as explicitly as they ever say anything to officials to not call as many charges as they do. They haven't followed. It's time to change the interpretation of the rule itself.


March 25th, 2013 at 10:54 AM ^

I sort of agree.  I don't think an offensive player needs to be out of control to necessitate an offensive foul.  I guess that depends on what we're defining as "out of control."  If a defensive player is in position, and the offensive player tries to go through him, that's an offensive foul.  But that doesn't necessarily mean the offensive player was out of control, the way I would define it.  But yeah, it's the late slide that really needs to be fixed.  And the rules are already written for that to be a block.  It's just missed a lot. 

Maize is not Yellow

March 25th, 2013 at 10:31 AM ^

The referees are the one who have created this viscious cycle.  The refs rarely call a charge unless a player has his arms at his side a flops.  No where in the rule book does this state that this position is required by the defensive player to cause a charge.  So a defensive player is forced to either flop or play d.  The refs will not allow both.

Space Coyote

March 25th, 2013 at 11:53 AM ^

You bring up charges from primary defenders. My opinion is that more player control fouls should be called on offensive players, particularly in the post, but even when driving the lane.

As far as help defenders, there was an example towards the end of the Indiana game where I think the call was good. The defender was standing his ground (away from the basket a bit) and the offensive player was clearly out of control, thus, it was called a charge.

My problem with charges is two fold: Too many are being called when help defenders arrive after the offensive player has left his feet. If it's questionable, it should be called a block. Undercutting a player shouldn't be a charge. The second problem I have is the amount you see players already going backwards before contact. You want to draw a charge? Then you have to actually take the contact. This is a very difficult thing to see in real-time though.

I'm not a fan of taking away all help defense charges. The defender has a right to that spot, and if he cleanly beat the man to it, then it should be a charge. Possibly the circle should be made a bit bigger to prevent the sliding underneath players and to make sure defenders get to the spot on time, but I really don't like the throught process that "taking a charge isn't playing defense." It is playing defense, it's getting to a spot under control and having a right to that spot.

Two other things: 1) hand checks need to start being called. 2) Post defenders with their hands and chest straight up need to stop getting called for so many "bump fouls" when the offensive post player initiates contact.


March 25th, 2013 at 10:14 AM ^

If we're bringing up other calls/non-calls, the other post play that I haven't seen called a foul in college basketball this year is when the offensive player hooks the player with his elbow, spins around him and gets to the basket.  Ryan Evans did this repeatedly against Michigan this year.  
Drives me crazy!


March 25th, 2013 at 10:04 AM ^

This would increase scoring obviously. I'm not sure how we teach help defense anymore though. What does the help do when an offensive player beats his man and drives the lane at high speed? If standing in his way becomes a foul, it becomes very difficult to, you know, defend.


March 25th, 2013 at 10:08 AM ^

You contest the ball without fouling....the way that help defenders used to do for sixty years before Coach K taught Chris Collins, Battier and Wojo to fall over at the slightest contact. Watch the Bad Boys. You don't see a lot of charges, what you see is aggressive defensive contests at the rim. That's exciting, and it's less on the refs.

Laimbeer did flop like a mofo. But at least he flopped when he was the primary defender.


March 25th, 2013 at 3:27 PM ^

But I want to see someone bring "The Mahorn" back.  This is where you'd let the defender bang into you again and again to get position, then step away and watch him lose balance and trip as he tried banging into thin air.  Used to get McHale with this all the time.


March 25th, 2013 at 10:12 AM ^

Exactly.  You're damned if you do, and damned if you don't.  If you seriously limit charges, you're going to have a bunch of guys reaching in and slapping at the ball, which can cause injuries (if done in the air because people might land awkwardly) or a lot of reach-in fouls.  The charge rule is fine if it's implemented correctly.  I just don't see the sense of "the refs are calling the charge poorly, so let's get rid of it."  You teach the refs to call it correctly, and voila!


March 25th, 2013 at 11:13 AM ^

Needs is right on.  

The rules should be set and officiated based on what's safe for the players and what's exciting for the game.  

The help defender has three options:

1. get in place to try & draw a fould (this really isn't safe for either player, nor is it exciting)

2. get to the bucket & contest the play (this is probably no safer than option 1, but it is very exciting)

3. do nothing, let the offensive player score (this is probably the safest option, but depending on the offensive player, may or may not be exciting)

I love seeing players contest drives at the rim.  Drawing fouls is usally pretty cheap; doing nothing is cheap.  Contesting at the rim is the truest of the three options.  


March 25th, 2013 at 11:28 AM ^

I disagree that option 1 isn't exciting. Assuming a call is made one way or the other, you either have a great defensive play which results in a change of possession or you have the potential for a great offensive play resulting in a chance for 3 points.


March 25th, 2013 at 11:53 AM ^

Upon further thought, you're right.  There can be some excitement to that charge when there's a change of posession.  

However, it's been taken advantage of for a long time.  It cheapens the game.  

I'd rather see the defensive player come over and try his best to contest the shot at his and the offensive player's highest point - at the rim.  


March 25th, 2013 at 12:09 PM ^

I agree. Ideally, what you'd have is both players avoiding contact. If the defender isn't in position, then just try to block the shot or strip the ball. If the defender is in position, rather than trying to make contact to by jumping into the defender or leaning to try to get the defender's arms to touch his arms, I'd like the ballhandler to step back and make the more difficult shot or pass the ball.

Michigan Marshmallow

March 25th, 2013 at 10:10 AM ^

What about the reverse? Maybe the blocking foul is called too much.

I mean, if all we care about here is player safety, then make contact close to the basket tend to favor the defender. No one would reckless run in to the basket, and the new rule would favor outside shooting. 

(Don't really give a shit. Just feeling antagonistic this morning)


March 25th, 2013 at 12:15 PM ^

I disagree. I think this would encourage drawing rotation from the defense and passing the ball to the open player. Rather than just coaching the guards to get to the basket and trying to make the difficult shot while drawing a foul, they would either have to have Trey Burke who can make the difficult shots or they would have to have a true PG that can find the open man and get him the ball. Real offense.


March 25th, 2013 at 10:12 AM ^

I agree that the hand check needs to be called a lot more often. Ohio defenders start with one hand on the waist, quite an advantage.
The charge is being called too much, but that is because guys forgot how to take a 10 foot pull up jumper and you either get to the rim or shoot a three. The mid-range game is broke, not the charge call.

Kilgore Trout

March 25th, 2013 at 10:18 AM ^

I think people go all the way to the rim with the intention of drawing a foul on the defense. With a little practice, a pull up 10 footer has to be equally as easy to make than a layup / dunk while colliding with a 6'10" 240lb man at full speed.