Seven minutes into the first game of Friday, there was already a missed block charge call. This has been something of an issue all tournament, with Alabama especially profiting from a horrendous call against Virginia Tech (and the subsequent technical against Buzz Williams). This is a continuation of the issues that have plagued the game all year: inconsistent application of rules, officials that seem to be guessing, and announcers that are hopelessly clueless.
There is a growing groundswell to either eliminate the charge altogether or amend to something requiring a defender to be standing in one spot and not have moved when he gets run over. How making basketball more like football is a good thing is not something advocates of either position are able to explain. What is actually required is even application and education of the officials. We’ve talked, a lot, in the past about how referees need more oversight. One place that begs for that is the block charge.
The rule itself isn’t that difficult. (And it’s Section 17, Article 4-7, if you’d like to read it.)
First, the defender has to, at some point establish legal guarding position on the person he is defending. That means both feet on the floor with his torso facing the opponent. If the defender is attempting to defend someone other than his man (think help side) he must allow time and distance to avoid and have both feet set on the floor before the opponent leaves the ground.
Once that has happened, things open up. The defender doesn’t have to have his torso facing the opponent, can slide laterally, can shift, can raise his arms, can jump, and does not have to be set or have his feet on the floor. The defender can even duck or flinch in anticipation of contact. What he cannot do is slide under an airborne player if he is the help side defender, or slide into the ballhandler either way. None of those actions absolve the dribbler from his obligation to not simply plow over a defender.
That’s all. It’s not a difficult rule, really. There’s no need to eliminate it, there’s no need to make it easier for an offensive player. All that has to be done is to actually call the rule as it exists. Now, someone please forward this article to Reggie Miller.