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Coaches withholding judgment on NCAA basketball rule changes meant to boost offense

Dayton’s Archie Miller, Wright State’s Billy Donlon and Miami’s John Cooper will take a wait-and-see approach to rule changes in men’s college basketball that could change the game in a major way.

The coaches have prepared their teams, teaching the players the new block/charge call and telling them the game is going to be called closer as the NCAA hopes to boost offense, or in its words, “enhance the balance between offense and defense.” In a lot of ways, however, every team across the nation will have to learn on the fly.

“If they call it the way they say they’re going to call it — and I believe they will — (the game) is going to change,” Donlon said.

“I guess you can say you can prepare for it,” Cooper said, “but just like everything else, we’re going to have to adjust as it gets going and really get a feel for what is going to be called and the explanations behind it.”

“The game is going to change,” Miller said. “We have to be ready to go when Nov. 9 (opener against IPFW) comes around.”

Miller loves the changes. For the Flyers, he thinks they will be helpful.

“From a style standpoint, we want to be based on movement, skill level and speed,” he said. “The more people can chuck you, hit you, foul you, at the end of the day that’s not good for us.”

Donlon thinks teams with depth, such as his, will benefit if more fouls are called. He isn’t so sure the change to the block/charge rule is a good thing for the Raiders. He said you will need to have a shot blocker, something his team lacks, to counter the new rule. It will be difficult for defenders to take charges, based on the new rule.

Here it is in the NCAA’s words: “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.”

The other points of emphasis will affect swarming and physical defenses. Officials will call more fouls when a defensive player “keeps a hand or forearm on an opponent, puts two hands on an opponent, continually jabs by extending his arm(s) and placing a hand or forearm on the opponent, or uses an arm bar to impede the progress of an opponent.”

In other words, the NCAA wants to take hand-checking out of the game. What the coaches want to know is will the officials call the game as they’ve been told to.

“I think the question most coaches have and want to see — is this going to be something that’s going to be consistent?” Cooper said. “Is it going to be consistent the first month of the season? Then as we go through the season, do they continue to do the same things that have the same consistency? If so, that’s what you ask for as a coach.”

The Raiders scrimmaged Tuesday with real officials. The RedHawks planned to do the same Saturday. The Flyers had an exhibition game Oct. 19 and another one Saturday. All the games gave the coaches and players a first chance to see the new rules in effect.

“I learned they are going to call it different,” Donlon said. “We played a couple of 10-minute periods. There was a 10-minute period where a lot of guys did a really good job of not fouling. There were other 10-minute periods where a guy would get four fouls in 10 minutes.”

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