When the NCAA announced the approved rules changes for college basketball back in June, many wondered what the impact would be. With the amount of contact allowed to be limited, naysayers foresaw a day in which a game would go well beyond the usual two-hour timeframe with a seemingly endless parade to the foul line being more memorable than the game itself.
If there’s anything to be learned from Seton Hall’s 83-72 victory over Niagara, it’s that players, coaches and officials will have some adjusting to do during the early portion of the season.
The Purple Eagles and Pirates combined to commit 73 fouls and attempt 102 free throws, with a total of six players fouling out of the game. Four of those six played for Niagara, with four Seton Hall players finishing the game with four personal fouls apiece (Patrik Auda and Brandon Mobley fouled out). And of the 23 players who saw action just one managed to not pick up a foul: Niagara freshman guard David Varoli, who played a grand total of two minutes.
But for all the fouls called at the Prudential Center (40 in the first half), the game didn’t come all that close to establishing a new NCAA record. The records for both combined fouls and combined free throw attempts were both set back on January 26, 1953, when Arizona and Northern Arizona engaged in a hack-fest for the ages.
That game featured a combined 84 fouls and 130 free throw attempts, and for as aggravating as Saturday evening’s game between Niagara and Seton Hall was for all involved those records may not fall anytime soon. Then again, there’s still plenty of time for these new rules to leave their mark in the record book.
As for the scoring, Texas transfer Sterling Gibbs paced the winners with a career-high 23 points (17-for-23 from the foul line) while Niagara’s Antoine Mason picked up where he left off last season with a game-high 34.