Column: New hand-check rule good for college game, ya feel me?

by Samuel Gordon

They’ve already tried to take contact out of college football, now they’re doing the same thing with basketball. And it’s the right call.

This year, the NCAA’s Men’s Basketball Rules Committee voted to pass new rules banning hand or forearm contact in effect for the 2013-14 season.

The ban is designed “to create offensive flow,” according to an NCAA release. So far, it’s done everything but that. Still, in time, these new rules will make college basketball more watchable.

Last year, scoring plummeted across the NCAA. Teams averaged an anemic 67.5 points per game, the lowest since 1981-82.

“I think it was getting out of control, just the bumping and the fouling and the pushing,” Gophers head men’s basketball coach Richard Pitino said Monday.

He’s right. It’s a little too boring when teams like Wisconsin play that grind-it-out physical brand of defense.

The Big Ten as a whole has garnered a reputation as a physical league, but there’s a balancing act between being physical and being fun to watch.

Teams are grabbing and holding down low. Players are getting away with way too much. It takes away from the crisp offensive flow that’s unique to college basketball.

In the NBA, isolation basketball is the norm and is proven successful. The most successful teams in college, though, rely on free-flowing offense that involes all five players.

We’re not getting that.

We’re getting these 55-50 games way too often, and fans don’t want to see that.

Now let’s be clear here: This is going to take time. Saturday’s game between Seton Hall and Niagara had 73 fouls. You read that correctly.

Pitino — good friends with Seton Hall’s head coach — watched the game and said “it was ridiculous.”

Minnesota’s game, on the other hand, had 33 fouls — a relatively normal amount.

“It may just depend on the referees,” Pitino said about the rule changes. “I think [the rule changes are] great for the game, to be honest with you.”

And in time, fans are going to realize that as well. If all goes according to plan, offense and gameplay will be more fluid.

The NBA outlawed hand-checking years back, and players adjusted fine. The same will happen in college.

But for the next month, fans will need to bear with refs who are also adjusting to the rules.

Sometimes things have to get worse before they get better.

Ya feel me?