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April 22, 2014

This season's officiating a step in the right direction



The Division I Men's Basketball Rules Committee got it right when they decided that the game should be officiated according to the rules for the 2013-14 season. Eliminating the ability of the defense to slow down or stop an offensive player with a forearm or hands did much to restore offensive dribbling skills to the game.

After an initial period of excessive foul shots and slow games the players and officials settled in to restore the balance between good offense and good defense. Unfortunately not all officials got the memo and there was much inconsistency in the way games were called. But I think the rules committee is on the right path to "the good ole days" of college basketball when it was not dominated by strength and muscle.

Now I've got another challenge for the group that makes the decisions concerning officiating: start calling pushing and fouls under the basket. It makes no sense to call touch fouls in center court and allow mayhem underneath at the same time.

If it is a foul to use your forearm or hands to defend a person away from the basket why is it not a foul to put your forearm in a persons back and push him away from the basket underneath?

Have you ever noticed on a foul shot how much pushing is done by the shooting team player in the middle spot on the line? Why isn't that a foul?

Unfortunately the muscle-bound player is once again rewarded for being strong not skilled. I don't know how many times Luke Hancock was pushed out of the way for a rebound this season.

And the women's game is even worse. Of course the women's game is a totally different conversation when it comes to officiating, and, in my opinion, is a useless conversation when it comes to consistency.

Some of the most egregious pushers this season were Kentucky's Julius Randle, UConn's Stefanie Dolson and the entire Cincinnati men's team. These are classic shovers: strong enough to push with little motion, almost a flick of the hand. But it gives them an advantage. In one game I viewed this season one of the aforementioned players shove a rebounder out of the way to tip in a missed basket at the buzzer while the defender went flying out of bounds. No call by the official, but a win for the home team.

Every college basketball fan with eyes knows that officiating needs some work to be fair and efficient. I am calling once again for a national group of officiating that has no ties to any conference. They should be assigned without regard for location or history. They should be graded by a group of supervisors that have the same standard and compare notes on what is a proper call. There should be heavy use of videos to instruct officials with a goal of standardizing the calls and weeding out poor performance. And poor officials will be unable to move to another conference.

Now, how soon do you think we can make it happen?



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