Fans of men’s college basketball can expect to see enhanced protections for players with the ball for the upcoming 2013-14 season.

The changes are intended to reduce physicality and encourage a more open style of play.

At its meeting last May, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules Committee concluded that physical play, particularly on players with the ball, was disrupting the flow of game.

A good example of this was on display during Division I men’s basketball games during the 2012-13 season, where the average number of points scored in games was 67.5. The season marked the lowest average points-per-game since the 1981-82 season, when teams averaged 67.6 points per game and the 3-point shot had not yet been adopted. This average has steadily decreased over the past four seasons at the Division I level.

With these facts in mind, the committee voted to categorize several specific types of contact as fouls. Previously, these contacts were listed only as guidelines for officials. However, at preseason officiating clinics this year, officials were instructed to enforce consistently the following types of contact on players with the ball:

• When a defensive player keeps a hand or forearm on an opponent
• When a defensive player puts two hands on an opponent
• When a defensive player continually jabs by extending his arm(s) and placing a hand or forearm on the opponent
• When a player uses an arm bar to impede the progress of an opponent.

The men’s rules committee also changed how block/charge calls will be made this season.

Under the revised rule, once an offensive player has started his upward motion with the ball to attempt a field goal or pass, a defensive player is not permitted to move into his path. If the defensive player is not in legal guarding position by the time the offensive player starts his motion, the official should call a blocking foul.

Previously, a defender had to be in legal guarding position when the offensive player lifted off the floor.

The rules committee believes this change will give officials more time to determine block/charge calls and will result in more accurate officiating. Committee members also believe the tweak to the block/charge rule will allow for more offensive freedom, provide clarity for officials making this difficult call and enhance the balance between offense and defense.

Monitor reviews expanded

Officials will be allowed to conduct more monitor reviews this season, but only under limited circumstances.

In the last two minutes of regulation and the last two minutes of each overtime, officials can look to see if a shot clock violation occurred. During that  same period of time, they can also review to determine who caused the ball to go out of bounds on a deflection involving two or more players.

Additionally, when officials have a question as to whether a shot was a two-point or three-point field goal, they will be allowed to ask the scorer’s table to record the game time of the shot. They then can review the play during the next media timeout and points can be awarded or deducted accordingly. Men’s basketball teams in the Big Ten Conference successfully experimented with this rule during the 2012-13 season and found that it reduced stoppages in play.

In the last four minutes of the second period and the entire overtime, officials can go to the monitor immediately to look for indisputable evidence as to how many points should be awarded for a field goal when determining whether a shot was a two- or three-point field goal.

Officials also will be allowed to use the monitor to determine which player committed a foul when there is uncertainty after a call has been made. Previously, officials were permitted to use the monitor only to determine the free-throw shooter.

Officials may also use the monitor after a call has been made on the floor to determine if a flagrant 2 foul has been committed. After the review, the official may determine that the foul is a flagrant 2, flagrant 1, common foul or no call. When the officials use the monitor to review a situation that is not called on the floor, the only options are flagrant 2, flagrant 1 or no foul.

Elbow rules

The committee tweaked the rules regarding elbow contact above the shoulders.

A minimum of a flagrant 1 foul is no longer required when an official is responding to illegal elbow contact above the shoulders of an opponent. Now, officials also can call a common foul on any illegal elbow contact, which may result in no free throws and simply a throw-in to the offended team.

This rule change is a stark contrast to the former minimum flagrant 1 foul rule that has been in effect for three years, which awarded the offended player two free throws and the ball. Coaches felt that, sometimes, elbow contact did not merit such a harsh penalty. However, officials who deem elbow contact to be excessive, unnecessary, severe or extreme are encouraged to call a flagrant 1 or flagrant 2 foul.

In a flagrant 1 situation, the player who was struck is awarded two free throws and his team gets possession of the ball. In a flagrant 2 foul situation, the penalty is the same, but the player who threw the elbow is ejected from the game.

Committee members felt the mandatory flagrant 1 penalty of the elbow rule was too harsh for all elbow situations. While the intent of the elbow rule has always been to protect players, they said, some legitimate basketball moves result in contact that is not excessive and do not deserve the harsher penalty.