College basketball season officially begins Friday, but college referees have been preparing for the season for weeks.
NCAA National Coordinator of Officials John Adams and Secretary-Rules Editor Art Hyland have been conducting educational sessions at regional rules clinics to help college basketball referees to make charge/block calls more accurately this season.
When evaluating the officials who worked the 2012 Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, Adams said officials made the right call around 90 percent of the time on all infractions. However, on charge/block calls, Adams said the accuracy rate was about 65 percent.
That’s natural, Adams said, given the nature of the play. He evaluated more than 100 charge/block calls from the 2012 tournament and found about 25 percent to be inconclusive, even on slow-motion replay.
“And I’m looking at these plays in a sterile, controlled environment with no one around, “ Adams said. “I can’t tell whether it was the right call or not on a quarter of them. The size of our court hasn’t changed, but look at how much bigger and faster the players are. They are trying to get to the same spot, and it is hard to tell who got there first in so many cases.”
To improve the accuracy rate on those calls, men’s officials are being asked to apply the following guidelines, which the Men’s Basketball Rules Committee approved in May:
• Before the offensive player (with the ball) becomes airborne, the defender must have two feet on the floor, be facing the opponent and be stationary to draw a charge. Otherwise, it should be a blocking foul.
• Secondary defenders (help defenders) moving forward or to the side are also in violation and those should be blocking fouls.
• Contact that is “through the chest” is not de facto proof of a charge. The rule in its entirety must be considered before determining a foul.
• In some cases, it appears a defender is being rewarded solely for being outside the restricted-area arc, without considering the other aspects of the rules.
Before the 2011-12 season, a restricted-area arc three feet from the center of basket was added to the rules. That is the area on the floor where a secondary defender cannot legally take a charge.
Being outside the arc isn’t the only factor an official should consider when making a charge/block call.
Adams wants to see improvement on plays involving secondary defenders in or near the restricted area by ensuring communication between the official making the call and the center official, who is not making the call but is close to the play. Adams wants the center official to feel empowered to approach the calling official with definite information relative to the position of the defensive players involved.
“We want our officials to have a better understanding about what is and what isn’t legal guarding position,” Adams said. “Once a player establishes legal defensive guarding position, we want our officials to understand what that defender can do to maintain it.”
The best way for officials to become better at making these calls is through educational efforts at the regional clinics and gaining experience by officiating more games, Adams said.
“We can make sure our officials understand the principles of the calls they make,” Adams said. “We can try to engrain in their minds from the first time they referee a game to the 500th time, and somewhere in between they get better.”
A sportsmanship initiative from the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Rules Committees will be implemented this season. It calls for more stringent adherence regarding bench decorum by coaches and bench personnel.
Basketball rules committee members believe the following behaviors hurt the image of the game and should result in a technical foul against the coach or other bench personnel:
• Comments directed at or referring to any game official that question the integrity of an official (repeated references to the number of fouls called against each team; suggesting an official is “cheating” a team, etc.).
• Profane, vulgar, threatening, or derogatory remarks or personal comments relating to race, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual orientation directed at or referring to any game official or opposing player/bench personnel.
• Prolonged, negative responses to a call/no-call that are disrespectful or unprofessional, including waving or thrashing the arms in disgust, dramatizing contact by re-enacting the play, or running or jumping in disbelief over a call/non-call.
• A negative response to a call/no-call that includes approaching/charging an official in a hostile, aggressive or otherwise threatening manner, emphatically removing one’s coat in response to a call/no-call, or throwing equipment or clothing on to the floor.
• Continual criticism during a game regarding the same incident after being warned by an official.
Committee members understand there will be spontaneous reactions to calls, but they don’t want prolonged responses to harm the game environment.
Basketball Court-Surface Rule
This season a rules change requires temporary decals and logos placed on the court to be “of a consistent surface” as the rest of the floor.
The change is intended to enhance the safety of men’s and women’s basketball players. While this past spring was a non-rules change year for basketball, policy permits rules committees to make changes in off years if safety issues are involved.
The new rule calls for the playing court to be of a completely finished manner that is consistent throughout.
The rules change does not restrict the use of decals and logos, but it does make clear that those marks must be similar to the rest of the court. That includes the three-foot area outside each sideline and the six-foot area behind the end lines.
The host game management will be responsible for ensuring the court is of a similar finish, including any logos or decals that are legally allowed on the floor. Game officials will have the authority to suspend play if the surface does not comply.