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A foul?! How is that a foul?!

The new rule changes have caused a great deal of head-scratching among basketball fans nationwide. Here's my take on the changes.

Mack seems to be at his wits end with officials this year, but so has every other basketball fan this year.
Mack seems to be at his wits end with officials this year, but so has every other basketball fan this year.
Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

There are few things in life that are certain; death and taxes are the most obvious, but one certainty that is becoming more prevalent is the idea that the guys reffing your favorite team's games are absolutely terrible.

A panel comprised of 12 representatives from Division I, II, and III schools met prior the the 2013-2014 season and decided that officials have been taking it too easy on defenses, mainly on-ball defenders. After the panel closed, four types of "tactics" were deemed illegal and would be enforced as personal fouls. Some of these points of emphasis seemed obvious, such as if a defender places two hands on an opponent or if he/she uses an arm bar to impede the progress of a dribbler. That was and always will be a foul. The "tactics" that caused most of my peers and myself to scratch our collective heads were, "placing and keeping a hand/forearm on an opponent" and "continually jabbing by placing a hand or forearm on an opponent" as stated by the official NCAA website. These seem to give off the idea that there would be a major emphasis on "touch fouls" and for some time it seemed that way. That new emphasis seemed to diminish focus on what is known in the world of officiating as RSBQ or Rhythm, Speed, Balance, and Quickness. Any action by the defense, or offense, that effects an opponent's RSBQ is considered a foul. Now, in my mind, placing a hand on an opponent will not effect his/her RSBQ in any way, shape, or form. But hey, I guess that's why my level of officiating experience never went past rowdy college kids.

Now I've reffed more than a few games of intramural basketball so I'm obviously  an expert on the debate of what is and what isn't a foul. However, with all sarcasm aside, it's become apparent throughout this college season that our beloved RSBQ has been thrown to the wayside, much like that old Backstreet Boys CD I had when I was 8. Adjustments have been made and hopefully games with 50 plus personal fouls are gone and forgotten. However, it still seems that, even if officials are finally starting to get a hang of these new rule changes, A LOT of fouls are being missed. If I had a dollar for every time I've yelled in disbelief at a missed call, or heard a student section plead for someone to "take his (the ref's) whistle" I'd have...well a lot of dollars. The rule changes have taken priority over other fouls, and games are being played where there's a Irish pub fight in the paint, and a game of "tag, you fouled" on the perimeter. Chalk that up to whatever you may, because it still baffles me.

However, the rule changes have done what they were set out to accomplish. Scoring is up. The only exception being the barn burner of a contest between Ohio State and Marquette where the Golden Eagles scored a whopping 35 points. A quick comparison of KenPom's AdjO (adjusted offensive efficiency of points scored per 100 possessions vs your run-of-the-mill D1 defense) shows an upward trend in offensive efficiency. In 2013, the #1 AdjO belonged to the Wolverines of Michigan with 120.3. This years leader as of 2/12? Duke with 128.5. A hefty 8.2 point jump is no coincidence. But is the increase in scoring due to more offensive freedom or more free throws? Somethings free either way.

In closing, as much as the rules made me want to yank out what little hair I have left, they did accomplish what they were set out to do. Unfortunately, those accomplishments came at a price of glaring inconsistencies that may not get worked out any time soon. Happy officiating!