Monday, the NCAA released statistics showing that scoring in men’s college hoops is up this year by 4.04 points per game. This, as an apparent result of the new officiating guidelines that were to curb hand-checking and in general, overly physical play on the perimeter that checked drives to the basket.
Well, here’s an opinion from Tad Boyle, the Colorado coach, on what’s happened over the last several weeks. He made his feelings known on the weekly Pac-12 teleconference call Tuesday morning. Asked about the officiating changes, he joked, “What officiating changes? It’s being called right now the way it’s always been called, in terms of conference play. The officiating changes have gone out the window.”
The corollary to the perimeter changes is alterations in how the block-charge call is made. The defensive player must now have established position much earlier than before to get the charge call, and anecdotally, from watching tons of games, it seems to me that officials are bending over backwards to call blocks. I suspect many coaches are coaching the charge right out of their defensive philosophy.
Says Boyle: “There have probably been more inconsistencies with that call than there ever have been. When a block-charge call happens now — and I’m not just talking about our games, but games on TV I watch or on film — when the whistle blows, I have no idea what’s going to happen. It’s game-to-game, official-to-official.”
Boyle’s comments shouldn’t be construed as critical, just as observations on where he thinks the game has evolved.
As for some of those NCAA number trends: Teams currently are averaging 71.68 points per game, which would be highest if maintained for the season since 1995-96. (Last year’s scoring hit a low not seen in more than a half-century.) The 4.04-points-per-game increase is traceable 55.4 percent to more made free throws (2.24 a game) and 44.6 percent to more field goals.
Meanwhile, the NCAA numbers suggest the rules changes have had the desired effect in improved field goal, three-point and free throw shooting over the same months in November, December and January, while the number of fouls called was up 1.99 a game in November, 1.58 in December and 1.53 in January. That reflects either what Boyle is talking about, or the possibility that players have adjusted to the guidelines.
Turnovers are down for each month, but the decrease has dropped from 1.48 a game less in November to 1.08 less in December to .91 in January.