There was no bigger star in college basketball during the 2020-21 season than Iowa center Luka Garza. That’s not a controversial statement, is it? He was honored with the Sporting News Player of the Year award in early March, followed by the Naismith award, the Oscar Robertson trophy and the John R. Wooden award. He ranked as the No. 3 scorer in Division I and led a team that entered the NCAA Tournament as the No. 2 seed.
Those responsible for the sport would surely want such a player on the court as much as possible, they would not want to limit his participation simply by a rule that has been in place for decades, which mandates disqualification after five personal fouls.
Which is fine, because Garza didn’t miss a single time.
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One of the issues contained in the NCAA men’s basketball rules committee’s annual survey of coaches, officials, members of the media, and other stakeholders was the possibility of changing to a six-foul DQ rule. There is some anecdotal support for such a change. ESPN analyst Jimmy Dykes tweeted“All the officials I have spoken to are in favor. The game is too fast and physical to stay at 5. “
The truth: this is a solution desperately looking for a problem. College basketball does not need to require six disqualification fouls. There has never been a worse time to ask for a change like this.
In the 2020-21 Division I season, officials called 17.24 fouls per team in an average game. That’s the lowest number in the 73 years the NCAA has been collecting statistics. That’s a small decrease from 17.53 in 2019-20, which was down from 17.76 the year before. Prior to 2018-19, fouls had not fallen below 18 per team. FOREVER.
There is no logic to increase the disqualification limit if fewer fouls are committed than at any other time in the history of the game.
Unless, for some perverse reason, the desire is to have more fouls in college basketball.
It is true that the NBA has a limit of six fouls. NBA games last 48 minutes, compared to 40 minutes in college. A 20 percent longer game equals 20 percent more fouls allowed. It’s that easy.
The push behind the six-foul DQ is ideally to keep the star players on the court longer. It seems like a worthy quest, but again, this is a concern based on a myth. The five consensus All-Americans from last season committed six fouls. Set. They averaged 33 minutes of playing time per game. In the matches from which they were disqualified, they averaged 32 minutes.
Among the 15 players on Sporting News’ three All-America teams, there were only 13 total disqualifications out of 447 games. That’s a 2.9 percent rate, which is lower than the 3.2 average for all players. Seven of the 15 All-Americans never fouled.
So there is no justification for making the change. There are many good reasons not to.
In the 2013-14 season, after scoring in Division I basketball sank to its lowest level since 1952, the rules committee and John Adams, then the NCAA’s coordinator of officials, began the “freedom of movement, “an effort to eliminate unnecessary defenses. contact of the sport and return to the emphasis on basketball skill. The process has not been an uninterrupted success, but the score jumped from 67.5 points per team in 2012-13 to 73.77 in 2018. It has dropped in the last two seasons, but still rests at a much higher level than when the crisis was declared. . Teams scored 71.11 points per game last season.
A rule change that would not require disqualification until the sixth personal foul would license all players on the court to be as physical as they wanted on defense because the probability of fouling would be close to zero.
We know this because the Big East Conference experienced a six-foul disqualification between 1989 and 1992. I covered the conference during those seasons, in the Pitt Panthers loss to The Pittsburgh Press. And while such extraordinary players as Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo, Derrick Coleman, Billy Owens, Malik Sealy, Eric Murdock, Tate George, and Terry Dehere were populating the league then, basketball was not what it could have been, what it should have been.
Research conducted by statistician Ken Pomeroy shows that the Big East teams fouled roughly, and I mean roughly, two more times per game during the six foul years. And those numbers are for all games. The six-foul experiment was only implemented for Big East Conference games, not for non-league or postseason games.
“As someone who was there when the Big East experimented with the 6-foul rule, you really don’t want to go there.” tweeted Mike Waters, which has covered Syracuse for three decades in The Post Standard. “Basketball became rugby.”
ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla was an assistant coach in Providence, under head coach Rick Barnes. He tweeted that the six fouls experiment in the Great East was a “disaster.” And that seems like a fair description.
A stat sheet unearthed by John Gasaway of ESPN.com for UConn’s 1990-91 season showed that the Huskies and their opponents fouled each other a total of 44 times in an average conference game. It would be 10 more fouls per game than we saw nationally in 2020-21.
“Games got more physical,” Fraschilla said in his tweet. “We had WWE every night.”
It was the WWF then, before Vince McMahon changed the name of his wrestling company.
In the Great East of that time, the F stood for “fouls.”
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.