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Big 12 Hoops | Block/Charge Rule Interpretation Changes

College basketball rules can be changed only every 2 years. This is an off-year, but that did not stop the Big 12 officials from changing their interpretation of the rules.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

The zebras are never the favorite guys on the court by either side of fans. I know that I had my fair share of complaints watching the Big 12 games last season with the inconsistency of calls that were made. We are not going to get March Madness-type officiating in our regular season games, but at times the referees downright sucked in their foul calls. My biggest complaint was the inconsistency with calls on the new block/charge rule changes that were implemented last season. The changes to the rule in 2013 states that, "Under the revised block/charge call in men's basketball, a defensive player is not permitted to move into the path of an offensive player once he has started his upward motion with the ball to attempt a field goal or pass… If the defensive player is not in legal guarding position by this time, it is a blocking foul. Previously, a defender had to be in legal guarding position when the offensive player lifted off the floor."

A lot of that revision to the rule was pushed onto college basketball from the Big Dance in 2013, when Aaron Craft drew a charge call against Iowa State that cost the Cyclones the game. Under the new rules last year refs were trying to interpret when the offensive player was "starting" his upward motion. Hell, does the upward motion start when a player lifts his leg, lifts his head, lifts his arm, or when he picks up his dribble? The refs were left to determine this, and that is when things went south. We saw a lot of calls that went one way, and then were whistled differently a few minutes later in the same game. All the fans, the players, and the coaches could do was shake our heads in disgust.

I came across an article in The Charleston Gazette that made me extremely giddy, until I calmed down and realized that I would have to chamber my excitement for after I witnessed the changes actually being implemented this season. Here is a portion of the article that made me have a momentary minute of pure happiness when I read what Curtis Shaw, the Big 12’s coordinator of basketball officiating had said –

Speaking during the league’s annual media day in Kansas City Wednesday, Shaw talked of how the NCAA had attempted last year to alter the block/charge rules in order to make them fairer, safer and more consistent. For the entirety of college basketball, that call — Did the offensive player driving to the basket run over the defender or did the defender illegally impede the offensive player? — has been the hardest to make and the most controversial.

What happened was that an original rule was tweaked, then tweaked again, then tweaked again right into the start of the season.

"What we intended to do in June got changed in September, got altered in November,’’ Shaw said. "By January, I could watch film and couldn’t tell you if it was right or wrong."

The tweaks last year involved the movement of both the offensive and defensive players. In short, defenders were not allowed to move into position to block an offensive player after the offensive player began an upward motion to the rim. It was also muddled by references to a secondary defender as opposed to a primary defender and what he was allowed to do.

Most of that is now gone, at least as far as the interpretation being taught to officials. It’s back to the old way, which is defenders are not allowed to move into position after the offensive player leaves the floor.

"Instead of worrying about upward motion, instead of worrying about primary defender, secondary defender, we said, ‘That’s too much to try to figure out in a split second. What can we do to help the game?’ " Shaw said. "Very simple. We put in the rule, or we interpreted the rule, that it doesn’t matter if you’re a primary defender. It doesn’t matter if you’re a secondary defender. When the offensive player leaves the floor, the defender can no longer move other than to cover up and protect themselves, maybe retreat a step because they know they’re going to get plowed.’’

If the calls really are interpreted like this for the season, it will be back to the days of old. I can live with that, and we all can breathe a sigh of relief every time a block/charge is whistled. All we will have to do is be able to tell if the offensive player has left the floor before the defender moves into his path to the rim, sounds simple right? Well, still get ready during the season to probably see a few blown calls from the zebras. But, at least it should cut down on the inconsistency of block/charge fouls during the game.