Fouls and college basketball

Expect lots of whistles this season. A new emphasis on penalizing hand checks by defenders — just brush your fingers across the backside of any ball handler and you can expect a foul to be called — was evident in Saturday’s exhibition basketball game at the Ford Center between USI and the University of Evansville women’s teams. Officials called 51 personal fouls in that game, 30 on UE and 21 on USI. That resulted in 60 free throws and slowed the contest down considerably.

There’s already been plenty of hand-wringing about this. What an awful decision, people are saying. Touch fouls will become the rule. The game will slow to less than a crawl. Our ears will be ringing with all the shrill whistles.

The idea is to create more offense. Forcing defenders to play hands off will allow more drives to the hoop and closer shots. Hence, more offense, higher scores.

The NBA instituted this rule several years ago. It took a short while to get used to it, but there’s not much complaining about it now. Expect the same in college hoops. Suddenly, players will have to learn how to play defense by positioning their feet and their bodies instead of playing like a defensive back in football. In other words, the game will be played as it was supposed to be played — with your brain rather than with brawn.

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