NCAA Men's Championship Game - Kansas v Kentucky

Changes coming to the block/charge, flagrant elbow rules

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The NCAA has made another step in their neverending battle in trying to perfect the the block/charge rule.

On Monday, the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel voted to make a change to the rule in an attempt to bring some modicum of consistency to how the call is made.

“Under the revised block/charge call in men’s basketball, a defensive player is not permitted to move into the path of an offensive player once he has started his upward motion with the ball to attempt a field goal or pass,” the NCAA wrote in a release. “If the defensive player is not in legal guarding position by this time, it is a blocking foul.”

The 2012-2013 season was rife with complaints about how the block/charge rule was being called, but the impetus for the rule change was a charge that was drawn by Ohio State’s Aaron Craft in the final seconds of an NCAA tournament win over Iowa State.

Remember the hullaballoo this call created? That wasn’t the only time that Iowa State was robbed by a referee misunderstanding the block/charge rule, either, was it, Elijah Johnson? The rule needed to be fixed, and while the changes being made this summer are a good thing, it’s important to remember that this isn’t going to change the fact that there are referees out there that will continue to make incorrect calls. Remember how promising we thought the charge circle was going to be?

New rules don’t mean that the correct call is always going to be made.

There were a couple of other rule changes made on Monday as well:

  • The NCAA took a note out of the Jay Bilas school of basketball and decided to try and find a way to open the game up by reducing the amount of fouling and physicality that goes on. The following fouls will be points of emphasis next season:- When a defensive player keeps a hand or forearm on an opponent.- When a defensive player puts two hands on an opponent.

    – When a defensive player continually jabs by extending his arm(s) and placing a hand or forearm on the opponent.

    – When a player uses an arm bar to impede the progress of an opponent.

  • There will be an increased use of monitor reviews next season. Referees can now use the monitor to review shot clock violations and out-of-bounds calls in the final two minutes and overtime. They can also review to see which player committed a foul, not just to determine who should be the foul shooter. The NCAA will also use the rule the Big Ten tested last season, waiting to review whether a shot was a two or a three until the next TV timeout unless it is in the final four minutes or overtime.
  • The best rule change that will be made is to the elbow rule. Previously, if an elbow was swung and it hit a player above the shoulders, it was an automatic flagrant foul. Now, the referees will be allowed some discretion in determining whether or not to give out a flagrant using a monitor review.

The rule change regarding flagrant elbows is the most important here.

Changing the definition of a charge isn’t going to change how often a ref can may the call correctly. It’s not an easy thing to do. And just because the rule book now says you can’t put two hands on an opponent doesn’t mean that refs will be calling those fouls every time it happens; if they do, Louisville and VCU are going to have long seasons.

New rules won’t make referees more accurate.

But allowing refs to avoid handing out game-changing flagrants on inadvertent elbows is a huge step.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Report: Virginia Tech forward Blackshear still recovering from offseason foot surgery

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 10: Kerry Blackshear Jr. #24 of the Virginia Tech Hokies and Kamari Murphy #21 of the Miami Hurricanes go for a rebound in the second half during the quarterfinals of the 2016 ACC Basketball Tournament Verizon Center on March 10, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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Virginia Tech sophomore forward Kerry Blackshear will miss the start of training camp as he continues to recover from offseason foot surgery, according to a report from Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The 6-foot-10 Blackshear played in all 35 games for the Hokies last season as he battled through the foot injury to average 6.2 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. According to Barber’s report, Blackshear had surgery on his right foot five days after the 2015-16 season ended, but he’s still wearing a walking boot to help recover. There has been no timetable given for Blackshear’s return.

Blackshear will be a key piece for a Virginia Tech team that is a bit thin up front this season. Freshman Khadim Sy can provide some minutes up front, but he’s inexperienced and center Nick Fullard has to sit out this season due to NCAA transfer rules. Getting a healthy Blackshear will be a key storyline for a Virginia Tech team that many will have in the preseason top 25.

Indiana roster dealing with handful of injuries as practice begins

BLOOMINGTON, IN - NOVEMBER 20:  A general view of  the SMU Mustangs game against the Indiana Hoosiers at Assembly Hall on November 20, 2014 in Bloomington, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Indiana has been hit with the injury buy a bit during the start of practice and it doesn’t only involved the recent announcement of knee surgery for senior Collin Hartman.

According to a report from the Indiana Daily Student the Hoosiers are also dealing with a knee injury for junior college transfer forward Freddie McSwain and sophomore Juwan Morgan hasn’t been cleared for practice yet after offseason shoulder surgery.

The 6-foot-6 McSwain had a knee injury flare up when he came to Indiana and had surgery to clean it up. Crean told the Indiana Daily Student that McSwain was still a few weeks from returning.

That means Indiana has to find early practice minutes to replace Hartman, Morgan and McSwain up front which gives more reps to players like O.G. Anunoby and freshman big man De’Ron Davis.

Since Anunoby and Davis both dealt with some offseason injuries and guard Robert Johnson was recently cleared to return, Hoosiers head coach Tom Crean is remaining cautious during the early part of practice this season. Crean also has to monitor the return of starting guard James Blackmon Jr. after he missed most of last season with a torn ACL.

“We would have already practiced this morning and they would be ready to go tonight, if this were a year ago,” Crean said in the report. “We have to tailor make this thing. We can’t be in too much of a rush with these guys.”

Obviously, the frontcourt injuries are something to keep an eye on for Indiana during the early part of the season. None of the three injuries seem severe, but Hartman’s timetable to return hasn’t been listed and McSwain and Morgan are missing valuable early time in practice.

It’ll be interesting to see if this helps younger players like Anunoby and Davis get more acquainted with the first team early on since both could have an impact this season.

Texas lands four-star Class of 2017 guard Jase Febres

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Texas and head coach Shaka Smart continue to recruit at a high level, especially in the state of Texas, as the Longhorns landed a commitment from Class of 2017 four-star guard Jase Febres on Friday night.

The 6-foot-5 Febres is considered the No. 63 overall prospect in the Rivals national Class of 2017 rankings as he burst on the national radar this summer with some strong shooting performances. Febres shot over 40 percent from three-point range during the month of July after battling through injury during the spring. Besides owning good size for a wing shooter, Febres also takes pride in defending and he can rebound a bit from the wing as well.

Febres is going to have to improve his overall offensive package if a defense plays him off the three-point line, but he has upside as a three-and-D guy with the Longhorns.

The Class of 2017 is starting to round into shape for Texas as Febres joins four-star power forward Jericho Sims and four-star forward Royce Hamm. Since taking over the Texas job, Smart has done a great job of keeping local talent home as he now has five four- and five-star prospects from the state in the last two classes.

 

VIDEO: Kentucky fans get married in the ticket line for Big Blue Madness

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Kentucky fans have unique ways of making their annual Big Blue Madness event the most chaotic tip-off event of the season. While Big Blue Nation is waiting in line for tickets to this year’s festivities in Tent City, one couple decided to go the extra mile.

After securing the first spot in line for tickets, Ray Branham and Vicki Harvey opted to get married. According to a post from Drew Franklin of Kentucky Sports Radio, the couple had already been talking about tying the knot, but decided to make the move once they had the top spot in line. As you can see by the wedding video, it was a very Kentucky-themed ceremony as the duo got married in front of friends and other Kentucky fans.

I can’t say I’m surprised two Kentucky fans decided to get married in line for something like Big Blue Madness and this (unplanned) wedding gives this year’s event something unique that we will always remember.

Penn State loses freshman on day practice starts

Patrick Chambers
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On the day that college basketball practice is to start, Penn State head coach Pat Chambers announced that his roster would be changing.

Joe Hampton, a 6-foot-8, 290 pound power forward from Maryland, will be leaving the program.

“Joe has made the decision to leave the program based on personal reasons,” Chambers said. “We wish him the best of luck with his future endeavors.”

Hampton was a three-star prospect that missed his senior season at Oak Hill Academy with torn ACL, but he reportedly enrolled at Penn State in May, before the rest of the Nittany Lion recruit class.