The way defense is played has changed this year in college basketball. In an attempt to help players score more points, there have been numerous rule changes that will go in effect starting this season.
"The two biggest rules for this year that are changes are the perimeter play, and it’s the contact on the perimeter ball handler," Curtis Shaw, Coordinator of Big 12 men’s basketball officials said. "In the past, these rules were always in the rule book, but they were in the back of the rule book. They were under guidelines, points of emphasis. The Rules Committee decided this was so important, they moved it into the actual rule, Section 10, in the rule book and said these are no longer judgment calls. These are no longer plays that we’re going to give you some leeway to decide if it matters or not. If these four things happen, it’s an automatic foul."
A majority of the rule changes have to do with what players can do with their hands on defense. Players will now be limited to how they can use their hands while defending and will have to be more aware while defending.
"If you continually jab at a player, it’s an automatic foul," Shaw said. "We say continual. We’ll let a player close out. We’ll let them touch them and measure up. But when they keep measuring up, we’re going to call a foul. If you stick your hand on them and leave it on them, or stick your forearm on them and leave it on them, it’s an automatic foul. If you ever put two hands out on a player, it’s an automatic foul."
The goal for these new rules is not to try to soften up the game, but simply to steer the emphasis away from the physical aspect of the game and more towards the athletic aspect. These same rules were implemented in the NBA over 10 years ago.
"My initial thought was that scoring is going to go up and good play is going to go down," Kansas head coach Bill Self said. "That was my initial thought. The reason scoring will go up is because we’re shooting more free throws."
A majority of the head coaches in the Big 12 said they believe these rule changes will help college basketball. At the same time, with changes like these, it could take awhile for their players to adapt.
"I don’t know. Ask me a year from now, and I can eloquently answer your question," West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins said.
The other big rule change will be when a defensive player attempts to draw a charge. Defenders must have their feet planted on the ground with no extra movement before the offensive player begins their take off. For players like K-State senior guard Will Spradling, this new rule could take some getting used to.
"Almost every day Will takes a charge, we’re like: ‘Go back and watch. Is it going to be a charge with the new rules?’" K-State head coach Bruce Weber said.
Another big story going into this year’s Big 12 season is highly anticipated freshman Andrew Wiggins. As the No. 1 ranked player in high school basketball last season, Wiggins was a hot commodity for many school across the country. Ultimately, the prep school phenom decided on Kansas. Even though Wiggins has yet to play a game, he has already graced the cover of Sports Illustrated and has the whole country talking.
"He hasn’t asked for any of it," Self said. "If you talk to him, he’s about a humble and low‑key guy that deflects attention as much as anybody I’ve been around. But when you hear those things, it’s not fair. It’s because he’s not bad. I don’t even know of one player that I can think of that he’s like that guy. He’s just Andrew."
The Jayhawks come into the season as the highest ranked Big 12 team in the preseason polls and are predicted to win their 10th straight regular season conference title.