|Coach Bob Huggins is a big proponent of freedom of movement but he is taking a wait-and-see approach to the new rule changes.
|Van Slider photo
You’re all familiar with the story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf, right? Sure you are, it’s one of Aesop’s most favorite fables.
In case you’re not a fabler it goes like this. Little shepherd kid continues to scream that his sheep are about to be attacked by a wolf. The villagers come running to his rescue, but when they get to the field the shepherd kid looks at them and says “Sike.” (My translation)
He gets them a couple of times, but one day the bad ol’ wolf arrives for real. Uh oh. The villagers hear him scream but don’t budge, and Big Bad Wolf has himself quite a buffet.
We offer that little trip down fable lane as an appetizer, if you will, to what’s been happening when it comes to the annual sike-fest known as basketball rules changes. Each time this year the shepherds who watch over the referees, who we will call zebras, scream at the top of their lungs that big rules changes are coming. They say watch out because when the games start to be played the zebras will be making all sorts of new calls.
The problem is that it really never happens. We spend September and October hearing them scream and then when the ball goes in the air nothing really happens. Oh sure, you’ll get a couple of calls while you’re playing some on-line college in November, but when big boy ball starts the screams of change go silent.
BUT WAIT. YES, WAIT RIGHT THERE.
We are being told this year the shepherds who guard the zebras who officiate the game we love are actually making real changes. The little shepherd isn’t saying “sike,” he’s saying “real.”
The majority of the changes deal with how a player can defend. These are rule changes and not points of emphasis, therefore, the officials aren’t being asked they are being told to make the calls.
Here are the changes.
- You can’t keep a hand or forearm on an opponent
- You can’t put two hands on an opponent
- You can no longer jab by extending an arm or placing a hand or forearm on the opponent.
- You can no longer use an arm bar to impede the progress of a dribbler.
The other significant change involves the beloved block-charge call. The new rule states that a defensive player can no longer move into the path of an offensive player once that player has begun an upward motion.
NCAA director of officials John Adams told ESPN they got more than 90 percent of calls correct last season, but only got about 65 percent of the block-charge calls correct.
Adams knows this is a massive change and that the whistles will be blowing early and often this season. Coaches and players will have to adjust. Broadcasters and fans will have to adjust, but it’s being done with the intent of bringing freedom of movement back to the game.
Some coaches like Louisville’s Rick Pitino love it. Other coaches like Kansas’ Bill Self aren’t sure it’s the right way to improve the game.
Bob Huggins is taking a wait and see approach. Huggs has been an advocate for freedom of movement, but he’s also heard the rule makers cry wolf before.
We’ll all find out together on Monday when the Mountaineers play an exhibition game at the Coliseum against Fairmont State University. Get there on time; the whistles will likely become a story early.
Of course, that’s unless we’re about to get siked again.