If college basketball officials are serious about enforcing new rules of emphasis for the 2013-14 season, Kentucky coach John Calipari thinks his Wildcats may be able to benefit.
After watching scoring averages plummet and the physical nature of the game get rougher in recent years, the NCAA has put in place several new rules that are expected to increase freedom of movement and lead to better offensive basketball.
“Scoring's gone down because we foul more,” Calipari said during Tuesday’s UK basketball media day. “So now they're going to say, ‘You're not fouling (the entire game).’ If you put a body hip-check on a guy dribbling full-court, it’s now a foul. If you hold a guy from getting open, it's now a foul. It's automatic.”
And perhaps the biggest point of emphasis change for the new season, the charge/block call.
“Do you remember the charge/block where I used to go crazy?” Calipari asked. “… Now, if (the offensive player) is in an up motion, (he) doesn’t even have to jump yet. (He’s) in an up motion. If that (defensive) man is not standing there, it’s a block every single time. There's no more flopping.”
So how does that benefit the Cats?
Calipari signed an eight-man recruiting class for 2013 and has more depth than any team he's coached since coming to Kentucky. His team may be better equipped to handle an expected increase in foul calls this season.
He also has a roster more uniquely qualified to run the dribble-drive motion offense he utilized with great success at Memphis.
Most of UK’s squads to this point under Calipari have relied heavily upon the pick-and-roll game with his lead guards and centers, but players like twin guards Andrew and Aaron Harrison, swingman James Young, and even agile power forward Julius Randle have thrived in DDM-type offensive attacks at the high school and AAU levels.
With that kind of talent and the new rules (which also focus on defenders using forearms and two-hand checking) the days of games with final scores in the 50s and 60s may be a thing of the past. UK scored 60 or fewer points nine times in 33 games last season.
“I think scoring will go up,” Calipari said. “It's going to open the game up. Here's what a press will be now: if you want to press and hold and bump, you're going to foul out your whole team. You can track quick and try to steal the ball, but if you don't steal the ball, you've got to run back because, if you bump that driver, it is now a foul.”
However, there’s a big “if” that cannot be ignored.
“I think it's good for the game, but we'll see,” Calipari said. “They've got what we all say is they'll call it in November and December. Are they going to call it in January, February and March? They are convinced they are, and I think it's good for the game.”