Much was made about the new points of emphasis in college basketball during non-conference play, with the move to encourage more freedom of movement for offensive players resulting in not only higher scoring games but higher foul counts as well. But there was a question that lingered during the months of November and December: would officials continue to be sticklers for contact during conference play, or would things revert to the way they used to be?
In a story written by Sean Keeler of Fox Sports Kansas City, the powers that be in the Big 12 and Missouri Valley conferences felt that referees were allowing games to get back to the physical style of play they were aiming to eliminate. And with this being the case memos from NCAA head of officiating John Adams and Curtis Shaw, the coordinator of Big 12 officials, served as a reminder of what rules referees were supposed to enforce.
“Through our first week of conference games, I felt in the Big 12, especially, we were starting to ‘let them play a little,'” Curtis Shaw, coordinator for men’s basketball officials for the Big 12, tells FOXSportsKansasCity.com. “And that’s not what we wanted.
“The NCAA and (head of officials) John Adams said some of the same things; they came out the first weekend of January and (told officials), ‘Do not back off. We will continue to enforce this. The leagues that don’t enforce this won’t be successful in the NCAA tournament.'”
There were certainly some crazy moments early in the season, with games turning into a glorified foul shooting contest as teams became more used to the new style of officiating. But as the season progressed more teams made the adjustments necessary if they wanted their best players to remain on the floor, with some playing more zone defense as a result.
But in order for the changes to take hold and result in better basketball they have to be enforced consistently, even if it does leave players, coaches and fans frustrated. The next question to be answered: will the rules be enforced with the same level of consistency in March? And given the importance of that month (early April, as well), hopefully the answer is “yes.”