College basketball just got easier to police and fairer to play.
The NCAA big wigs (OK, the Playing Rules Oversight Panel) voted on a slew of changes to their basketball and volleyball sports this week. Basketball's need for a three-feet-wide charge circle only required a majority vote to pass, and it did. This means by the start of next season, each arena will have a semi-circle painted under the hoop, meaning defensive players will not be able to draw a charge if they have a foot inside that area when an offensive player is making a move, with the ball, toward the hoop.
Division II and III will implement charge circles at the start of the 2012 season.
Something worth emphasizing, though. For everyone -- fans, coaches, officials and players -- this will take some time to adjust to, as there's no such protected area in high school or AAU ball. Players won't develop habits or instincts overnight.
Some basketball stakeholders wanted visible markings to better define the area where a secondary defender can legally take a charge.
After seeing the arc painted on the court and reviewing data, the committee recommended a three-foot arc as being the suitable distance for the college game, where the lane is 12-feet wide.
There's been constant public pining for the semi-circle to be implanted in the college hoops paint for about a decade. You may remember the dotted experimental semi-circles back in 2009. This past year, it was a two-feet wide circle, which was so, so clearly way too small.
The charge circle wasn't the only change to the game. The Playing Rules Oversight Panel also voted on differentiating hard, flagrant fouls to be distinguished by the terms "Flagrant 1" and "Flagrant 2." There are no more "intentional" fouls. "A Flagrant 1 foul takes the place of an intentional foul and the Flagrant 2 foul replaces the previous flagrant foul," according to the panel.
Other rule changes included:
An example of a Flagrant 1 foul would be when a player swings an elbow and makes illegal, non-excessive contact with an opponent above the shoulders. The team whose player was struck would receive two free throws and possession of the ball. Previously, this type of foul was called an intentional foul. The committee wanted to move away from the word “intentional,” because a player’s intent was never the point to the rule.
An example of a Flagrant 2 foul would be when a player swings an elbow excessively and makes contact with an opponent above the shoulders. In this case, the player who threw the elbow would be ejected from the game, and the other team would receive two free throws and the ball.
-- A coach can now ask the officials to go to the monitor if he or she feels a Flagrant 2 happened but wasn't called. But if, after review, no such violation occurs, said coach's team gets docked a timeout. If there are no timeouts left, then it's a technical foul.
-- Double fouls will now mean both players involved will shoot free throws.
-- There will be an emphasis on punctuality. If teams aren't ready to play after a horned warning during a timeout, officials will warn the team, then begin placing the ball on the ground out of bounds and counting out the five-second rule.