When a veteran coach like Dan Hurley doesn’t know how to adapt to a rule change, you can bet we’re in for a bumpy ride as the season opens.
Randy Peterson of USA Today put it succinctly when he wrote “College basketball officials are supposed to call hand-checking a foul as they transition the sport from ‘no harm, no foul’ to ‘no touching.'”
It’s pretty much a 180-degree swing, and that’s causing some major problems for college coaches and their players. Following a 93-77 exhibition win over Southern Connecticut State, second-year Rams head man Hurley put it bluntly: “Right now, I don’t know what a foul is on the perimeter. I just don’t know,” he told the Providence Journal . “Going into the season, it’s scary because you just don’t know what a foul is.”
The rule changes, intended to ease the physicality of defense in DI hoops, is supposed to (eventually) speed the game up, but early on, the whistles will likely have the opposite effect.
The Rams were called for 28 fouls, the same number as Southern Connecticut. The teams attempted a combined 71 free throws with the Rams winning out at the line, 25-14. Even with no TV timeouts the game took a shade more than 2:15 to complete.
Hurley said his team was whistled for “even more fouls” in a closed scrimmage last weekend against Manhattan. He battled with the officials most of the way Friday night and picked up a technical foul in the second half.
As a devotee of the defensive side of basketball, I’m curious how this is all going to play out. Will Wisconsin games start to look like the NBA All-Star contest, instead of the grind-fest we’re all used to from Bo Ryan? Or will we simply find ourselves watching an equally boring parade to the foul line every night?
Every season is a strange new beast these days, and this one will be no different.
Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.
After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.
Video credit: Wyoming Athletics
Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.
Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.
Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.
Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.
Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.
But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.