As we enter into the New Year and spring semester, the Manhattan College men’s basketball team is looking to continue building on its first-half success while women’s basketball will attempt a turnaround after struggling in the first-half.
At the start of the 2013-2014 season, many questions were being raised about the structure of the MAAC and its prime contenders, one of the them being MC. The biggest question brought up was how the new NCAA rules would affect teams around the league.
During college basketball’s off-season, the NCAA passed a series of new hand-check foul rules in an effort to create a less physical game. These rules include hands and/or forearms being placed on a player from the other team; placing both hands on an opposing athlete; continuously jabbing the opposition through the extension of one’s hands, arms and/or forearms and using one’s arms to prevent the forward progress of an opposing player’s ability to dribble, according to ESPN.com.
Manhattan coaches and players have questioned how these new rules benefit the game. More fouls interrupt the flow of the game and increase the dependency on free-throws, which are only worth one-point each.
“I’ve seen the fouls go up by a lot,” men’s basketball head coach Steve Masiello said. “I don’t know what the benefit is besides slowing the game down, and I don’t know how it’s improving the game. It takes away the defensive minded coach and defensive philosophy teams.”
The men’s basketball team has seen an average increase in fouls per game from about 19 fouls per game during the 2012-2013 season up to roughly 24 fouls per game in 2013-2014. As for the women’s basketball team, they have seen an average increase in fouls per game from 16 last season up to 19 fouls per game this year.
Three points MC’s women’s basketball head coach John Olenowski made regarding the new rule are: defense is now offense; coaching strategy is to bring focus back to defense – more feet, less hands; high amounts of foul calls and high free-throw attempts are inevitable, but will eventually balance out with adjustments that are made through the marriage between how calls are made and how players play. Only then will there be a return to any form of normalcy, Olenowski said.
The new rule is not only having a bad affect at Manhattan, but also league wide.
On Nov. 9, 2013, there was a basketball game between the Seton Hall Pirates and the Niagara Purple Eagles that ended with a total of 73 fouls and 102 free-throw attempts between the two teams.
“The edict by officials is to allow for more freedom of movement and forward progress, and to call a foul on every bump and such,” Chris Casey, the Niagara men’s basketball coach, said. “Not going to fight it. No negative opinion.”
Casey, however, did say that foul calls were evenly distributed in the basketball game between the Pirates and the Purple Eagles. He also added that there was no room for adjustments early on in the season but as the year has gone on; the rule has led to lowered but still high amounts of foul calls and higher shooting percentages.
The general consensus was that with the new rules it would cause a temporary spike in fouls, but that there would be an eventual decrease based on team’s adjustments to the change in rules as the season rolled on. As the season has progressed, foul numbers are failing to dwindle and only continue to rise.
Masiello thinks the game is still being called inconsistently regardless of the changes in rules. He added that it’s inevitable that coaches will be unhappy. And although the new rules haven’t changed overall game strategy, Olenowski and Masiello agree that the rule changes have forced focus more on footwork and less on hands.
Senior Rhamel Brown and Allison Skrec, members of the men and women basketball teams, are also in agreement.
“Fouls are up,” Skrec said. “We have to learn to adjust with our hands and our feet.”