Photographic evidence from Seton Hall-Niagara: 73 fouls, 102 free-throw attempts. pic.twitter.com/KUm5yj6OS0— Brendan Prunty (@BrendanPrunty) November 10, 2013
Get a load of that stat sheet. Seton Hall and Niagara combined for 102 free throw attempts off of 73 fouls. And there were more shots taken from the charity stripe than field goals put up in the game: 102-101. Luckily for Seton Hall, despite the tweetfest with all the blown whistles, it came away with the 83-72 win. So, yes, there were more fouls called than total points for the losing team.
I wish I knew the last time that happened in a D-I game, or the last time free throw attempts outnumbered field goal attempts. This kind of fouling frenzy could become common as college basketball adjusts to the new normal. In an effort to clean up the game and allow for more scoring, officials have been instructed to be much more critical of how they call fouls. Hand-checking is now off the table, and the distinction for what makes a block and what makes a charge is also under new rule.
Speaking to the Star-Ledger after the game in the officials locker room, lead official Wally Rutecki explained the rationale behind the abnormal amount of foul calls.
"It's an adjustment for everyone," Rutecki said. "I think tonight, that was their first live game -- you know what I mean? -- now they've seen it. Not in practice, not in a scrimmage -- for real."
When he was asked if this game was a feeling-out process by all parties involved, Rutecki said: "That's what I saw."
This was all prompted in part by the fact that last season saw the fewest foul calls and fewest points overall in the sport in scores. (Pun intended.) As you'd expect, coaches were all too prepared for something like this before the season began. The question becomes, How many 70-plus-foul games will we see this year? Will we hit 80 more than a few times? The 73 from Saturday were more than any 40-minute game from last year. And we're not even 72 hours into the season.
By the way, according to the Newark Star-Ledger's Brendan Prunty, all those fouls led to the game lasting for 2 hours and 28 minutes from tip to final buzzer. Your average college game is usually completed in just a shade over two hours.
Nobody said it would be easy.