Friday, November 8, 2013


Opinion: Whistle-happy refs put stamp on KU opener

Kansas coach Bill Self yells at a referee during the second half of the Jayhawks' win against Louisiana-Monroe, Friday, November, 8, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse..

Kansas coach Bill Self yells at a referee during the second half of the Jayhawks' win against Louisiana-Monroe, Friday, November, 8, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse..


Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Tarik Black, Andrew White and Wayne Selden discuss KU's 80-63 victory over Louisiana Monroe

Tarik Black, Andrew White and Wayne Selden discuss KU's 80-63 victory over Louisiana Monroe

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Bill Self talks about all the fouls that were called during KU's season opener

Kansas University men's basketball coach Bill Self talks about his team's effort and all the fouls that were called during KU's 80-63, season-opening victory over Louisiana Monroe.

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Box score

• Kansas-Louisiana at Monroe

Whistle while you work took on an entirely new meaning Friday night in Allen Fieldhouse, where 16,300 basketball enthusiasts vacated the building grumbling variations of “Rock Chalk, Foul Hawk!”

They all must have felt a little like passengers in a car driven by someone obsessed with testing the brakes by tapping them constantly. (My father was a great, great man, but why did he constantly have to do that?)

On a night that featured more tweets than Carlos Danger could send with the shades drawn, a whopping 58 fouls were called in Kansas University’s 80-63, season-opening victory over a veteran, driven Louisiana at Monroe squad that hung within single digits for the first 27-plus minutes.

ULM coach Keith Richard shared what he is telling his players about playing to the new rules that restrict defensive players’ use of hands and arms.

“I’m telling ’em not to freak out is what I’m telling ’em,” Richard said. “This is going on all over the country. It’s not just a Monroe thing. It’s not just a Kansas thing. The players have to adjust and not lose their minds because of it. It’s not going away.”

Unless, of course, the fans who are freaking out go away from their TV sets and ratings drop. And that would be a shame because the intended consequence of the rules was spot on. College basketball had become too much of a bump-and-run, defense-dominated game. Last season, scoring reached its lowest level since 1952.

But the players have been playing that way so long they can’t stop themselves, and the refs are following orders. So what we’re left with is a test of patience that essentially sets up a race. What will happen first: Will the players learn to play a different style or the network TV power brokers run out of patience and work to convince college basketball to return to the old style?

“It’s difficult, it sure is,” Richard said. “There were some bad calls out there tonight. Pitiful. But both ways.”

It’s not often a winning and losing coach ever agree on officiating and acknowledge that the other guy caught some bad breaks, too, but that’s exactly what happened in the aftermath of the tweet-fest.

“I think some of the things that were called tonight, I have to watch on tape because I disagreed with several of the calls that even went for us, but the referees have to call the rules,” KU coach Bill Self said. “That’s their job. What I would say is there were some things that happened off the ball that didn’t have anything to do with anything.

“That’s an ugly game. I don’t see how you can have a pretty game when there are 58 fouls. It’s fragmented. Whenever you think you get a little rhythm going, it stops.”

In theory, if players can adjust as aggressively as the refs have, the goal that is pretty basketball could be reached. But we all must crawl through miles and miles of mud to reach the beauty.

“There were so many fouls called,” Self said. “So we either shot a wide-open layup, or it’s a foul. I bet you across America shooting percentages are going to go way up because of the way the game’s being called. That’s just my call.”

One call — or was it a final straw — sent Self’s temper soaring to the roof. In the heat of the moment, Richard couldn’t believe Self didn’t get tagged with a technical. Afterward, Self echoed a similar sentiment.

Asked to predict when a flow would return to the game, Self said, “I don’t know. I really don’t know. By conference play, I think it will be a lot better. I can’t determine if it’s good for us or bad for us. I know it’s bad to watch. We do have a lot of depth.”

He asked himself how many of the 58 fouls would have been called last season and then answered a maximum of 40.

Kansas sophomore Andrew White III said, “We were told it was going to be like this, but even when you are in the game it’s very surprising. Even off the ball it’s very different. There were a lot of bumps away from the ball that were called as fouls. It’s surprising and frustrating, but that’s the rule, and we need to adjust on how the referees are calling the game.”

Perhaps technology can ride to the rescue and arm referees with a whistle that must be blown twice. The first blow engages the whistle, the second makes a sound. That way, refs can think, “Do I really want to do this?”


Doug Cramer 8 years, 10 months ago

Tough to watch basketball when it's nothing but stoppages and free throws.

College basketball has always been much more entertaining than the NBA. The ebb and flow of college basketball...the hard work that players put forth to play in your face defense is what separates college from the lazy NBA. Hope the entertainment value of the game gets better after a few weeks.

Greg Lux 8 years, 10 months ago

There is no way under the current rules the way they are being enforced that anything is going to get better until the ref's back off and let the game be played. Basketball has always been a physical game. As they say " if it ain't broke don't fix it ". Our only hope is the fans and TV Exec's put enough pressure on the NCAA to get this rule modified to allow some contact again. What we have now is not college basketball. It's a game for 8 yr old's to make sure no one gets hurt. I live for KU basketball and I hate this stupid change that was totally unnecessary. Please listen to the fans NCAA.... PLEASE

Walter Bridges 8 years, 10 months ago

The rule stinks and will only hurt NCAAM basketball - who wants to watch free throw shooting contests - BUT bad defense doesn't make it better. One of the worst defensive efforts I've seen from a HCBS team.

Suzi Marshall 8 years, 10 months ago

I was shocked with the poor defense. Absolutely the worst Kansas defensive performance in the Self era. The "new" rules can not explain the number of times we got beat with back door cuts, inability to provide help defense, etc etc. Self seems pleased but I think he's trying to pump them up. This team has a long long long way to go.

Benz Junque 8 years, 10 months ago

Leave it to the NCAA to have a massive overreaction in the rules department. They wanted to increase scoring to create more excitement. So they applied a sledgehammer to the problem and created an unwatchable, boring product. Pretty much sums up the NCAA these days. Totally clueless.

The poor KU defense can be blamed in some part on the new rules. Last year, KU wouldn't get beat on so many back door cuts because they could keep in physical contact with the guy they were guarded to keep track of them. Now that they aren't allowed to touch them it is easier to lose track of your man.

This group of refs seemed dead set on making sure they called EVERY foul they saw. I do not believe that there was a stretch of more than two consecutive possessions in the second half where a foul was not called. PUTRID. For players to "get used to this" will basically mean that teams cannot play defense. KU is going to lose some games they have no business losing because they opponent can run free and get hot from outside. The good news is that they have more depth to survive foul problems than most teams.

JD Roth 8 years, 10 months ago

I agree. That was hard to watch, never any rhythm at all. When there is well over a foul a minute, that's ridiculous.

Rodney Crain 8 years, 10 months ago

On offense, put your head down and drive to the basket under control. On defense switch all ball screens, hands off so use your feet, and if you help be early and set outside the lane arc. Also play some zone. I heard Bilas in the armed forces game say these are not new rules, it is the refs being told to call them again like in the past. I get it but man was that extremely tough to watch last night. At least it was called the same way for both teams for what that is worth.

ps- for the love of God practice your free throws it will be worth 30-50% of your PPG now.

pss- everytime a foul is called the tv networks should flash up a updated foul chart for that team so at least we can keep up with the new stat that is now changing the game. I had to keep open a running box score on my pc to look at something while all the free throws were being shot.

psss- Thor cheerleader should have a large plastic hammer and be shown twice a half to pass the time while we wait to get setup for free-throws ...

Benz Junque 8 years, 10 months ago

It's not even enough to keep your hands off. If a player driving to the rim initiates contact, it is a foul on the defender. It is basically going to be either a free throw shooting contest or a layup line.

Bill Horton 8 years, 10 months ago

KU had 43 field goal attempts and 43 free throw attempts. With 50% of the shots coming with everyone standing around, didn't know if we were watching a basketball game or Friday afternoon at the DMV.

Joe Ross 8 years, 10 months ago

I left this comment on another thread, but it used to be said that a good game is one in which you didn't notice the referees. A big down-side is that they figure much more prominently now, and the subjectivity of the refs is now a bigger variable in the outcome of the game. I'm sure everyone is familiar with cries from seasons past to "let the players decide the game". There was a foul called every 40 seconds of the game on average. One-and-a-half fouls per minute!!! FOR THE WHOLE GAME! I don't know how much I'm in favor of the rule change. The games are much less fun to watch. Fans can't get into it. Players don't find rhythms and many will foul out of highly-billed or important games. And coaches will be frustrated because they'll need to have deeper benches, and may not have key players on the floor at crucial times because of the foul situation. Having said all of that about the rule change, I think Kansas grew up tonight toward the end of the game. They seemed to find their feet and started to look like a team playing basketball, but some of that could have been the foul trouble of ULM. Who knows?

Benz Junque 8 years, 10 months ago

Agreed. Meanwhile only 36 fouls TOTAL were called in last night's Louisville game. You can't seriously tell me that there were 20+ more fouls committed in the KU game versus the UL: game. That's ridiculous. You are leaving the outcome of the game in the hands of the referee and that is the OPPOSITE of what the pathetic NCAA wanted to do.

Wouldn't it be nice if they had simply asked refs to CALL what was already defined as fouls?!?

Robert Brock 8 years, 10 months ago

Get used to it, Fans. College basketball is going to be very hard to watch. Downright creepy!

Greg Lux 8 years, 10 months ago

Robert, I agree but why should it be...The rules were not enforced for a reason all these years so why now? Is this the game we want to watch? Basketball has for decades been a contact sport. Now we want it to be a child's game of " Don't touch me while I have the ball?"

Robert Brock 8 years, 10 months ago

People seem to want NBA-style rules without NBA-quality players (the exceptional players leave after one year). Next, we will be seeing an NBA-length 3-point line and an NBA-like shot clock. The game will consist of no defense and a lot of quick shots that clank the iron. Oh, and lots and lots of foul shots. Games may last over three hours. Inevitable.

Walter Bridges 8 years, 10 months ago

The NBA doesn't call hand checking. If anything, this rule will slow down basketball. The NBA has changed rules to allow zone coverage and scoring overall has gone down as more teams play better defense in both zone and man-to-man. I don't think the NBA comparison holds water.

Nor do I agree with those who say these are rules that haven't been enforced. These are rule changes - that force officials to change the way they called fouls in order to "allow for more offensive freedom" and "enhance the balance between offense and defense.".

Not sure I'll watch nearly as much college basketball other than Kansas. If these rule changes were made to increase viewership then they made a pretty big mistake.

Greg Lux 8 years, 10 months ago

One thing is for sure. There will be a new record holders for the most free-throws shot, made, missed in a season this year... woohoo isn't that great... :P

Erich Hartmann 8 years, 10 months ago

Absolutely AWFUL "product" by the NCAA. Bill Self knows 10x more than the NCAA: Want more scoring? Well you'll get it, but in a muddy, chopped up, ugly game...with most points coming at the foul line. So the NCAA thinks everybody wants to watch zebra-stupidity?

Oh, let's not forget the money angle: What's the ramifications on the time-slots for scheduling? People tune in to see an ESPN game, but the previous game still has 6min to go and they are busy, busy, busy shooting their 60th or 70th foul shot?! Ridiculous.

NCAA needs to realize their error, and back the refs off... after a few weeks of this eye-opening nonsense sinks into their skulls.

Eric TheCapn 8 years, 10 months ago

That was the most boring college basketball I've seen in years. It was as bad as the NFL; nothing but standing around. The exhibition games were not much better. I can't even handle watching another game like that, despite being an extremely diehard Jayhawks'/college-ball fan.

I wholeheartedly disagree that, "College basketball had become too much of a bump-and-run, defense-dominated game." The fact that college kids play their asses off on both sides of the floor is what makes the game so much more intense and exciting than the NBA, where nobody except Nick Collison runs either direction. Now they can only run away from the guy with the ball and let them have layups, otherwise some old white guy will be blowing a whistle more often than a crunked-up kid at a South American music festival.

The refs were the only stars last night and the fans should have been booing EVERY foul call during the second half to send a message. How do we contact the NCAA rules folks, Keegan? We need to be more proactive than tuning out. We want to watch real basketball NOW, we've been waiting seven months!

Adam Tyler 8 years, 10 months ago

It is humorous that you state " We want to watch real basketball"

These are the rules of basketball, they just havent been enforced to the fullest for the past few decades, so no one payed attention.

Eric TheCapn 8 years, 10 months ago

False. These are rule CHANGES. They've made it significantly more difficult for refs to call charges and made it much harder to play defense, because if a guy with the ball runs into you, it's now your fault virtually any time. These rules clamp down on athleticism and grace and encourage running out of control at defenders.

Nonetheless, the "real basketball" comment means actually watching team play, not a free-throw contest.

Adam Tyler 8 years, 10 months ago

"These rules, with handchecking and freedom of movement, have always been there, but they've been in the appendix or as a point of emphasis, and now it's a rule," said Belmont coach Rick Byrd, the chairman of the rules committee (who stresses that he wasn't the chairman when these were voted on, so don't shoot the messenger)

Walter Bridges 8 years, 10 months ago

Really? I'm pretty sure these aren't included in the rules that James Naismith wrote down.

Like all sports, they evolve and and so does the rulebook. Have you noticed the shot clock? The three-point line? The original three-point line?

Like other changes, these are new "freedom of movement" rules which are stricter than the previous rules. These are not rules that haven't been enforced but are in effect NEW rules.

Adam Tyler 8 years, 10 months ago

I realize the game has changed a bit since Naismith wrote everything down....

My point was that in the past few decades it has not been a point of emphasis, even though it was in the rule book.

Benz Junque 8 years, 10 months ago

You are completely wrong. These are NEW RULES added this year. I would have been fine if they simply stated that they would be more aggressive in enforcing last year's existing rules.

What concerns we is the HUGE disparity across the country. Louisville only had 14 fouls called on them in their first game. Kentucky had 20. Duke had 21. Kansas had 27. Mark my words, there will be games that are decided 100% by WHO is reffing the game.

Jeff Mills 8 years, 10 months ago

It wasn't a fun game to watch. But I think it's a good rule. Basketball wasn't supposed to be the contact sport it's become. I think we owe it Naismith to try to keep it SOMEWHAT resembling the same game.

It's up to the players and coaches to learn and adjust. When they do, and they start playing defense the right way, the fouls should lessen. Obviously, some of this just because it's early. The refs aren't going to blow the whistle that many times. Seems like there's always more fouls in the first few games. But part of it is on the players to do what they can to stay in the game. Keep your hands off the guy w the ball. It's pretty simple. But players have been doing it their whole lives, so it's going to take time to recondition their minds to not do it.

That said, the back-to-back calls on Mason AND their guy were both loose ball plays that were bad calls, the second one probably a makeup call for the first. And I think that's where Self was the sorest. That had nothing to do w the new rule. These guys were a little whistle happy and if it was JUST the new hand rules being overdone, I think it wouldn't have seemed so bad.

The last part of it is KU is reeeeaally young and played really bad at times. I mean FOUR moving screens between JoJo and Jamari? Or was it 5? They weren't even questionable, either. We were late rotating countless times... and a lot of fouls had nothing to do w the refs or the new rules.

Erich Hartmann 8 years, 10 months ago

Jeff, let me ask you this: What is your overall opinion of Bill Self and his defensive philosophy? Consider specifically his greatest team, the 2008 Jayhawks (national champs) and consider what havoc was caused by Russell Robinson + Mario Chalmers. I personally think the new rules would cause RussRob to be on the bench with 3 fouls in the first half, same for Mario. I also did NOT consider what Self's guards did defensively to be "mugging" or "thugging" anybody. I thought it was perfect, tough play, and now all that is negated by some very dubious rule shift. I think this is awful. Just my opinion, nothing more...RCJH.

Jeff Mills 8 years, 10 months ago

Fair question. I think Self is a great defensive teacher, and he taught those guys the BEST way to play it within the confines of the rules. And it's the way he's always taught it. And I believe now he will adjust and teach the best way to defend under these new rules. The players will learn, and the foul numbers will go back down and the scoring will remain up, because we will get to see the players play and dictate more. If they don't hit the panic button.

Walter Bridges 8 years, 10 months ago

So what about in other sports where the rules have changed? Should baseball and football go back to the rules that were used when the first NCAA or professional games were played?

And again, there is far more contact underneath the basket when players are blocking out and fighting for position then there is by hand checking and arm bars. If you want basketball to be a non-contact sport then those rules also need to be changed.

Jeff Mills 8 years, 10 months ago

Agreed.... change those rules, too. One thing at a time. I think it would be very easy to officiate games if they the answer to "when is it okay to put a hand on a defender?"... is NEVER. Like touching the ball in soccer. No hands ever on an opposing player.

Lonnie Snow 8 years, 10 months ago

Ok all I know is I don't watch basketball to watch refs and if it stays like this they will all be famous because I see more of them than the players. Hand checks I get body up on a guy step for step is terrible . Tale tail I guess will be ratings !

Annette Lee 8 years, 10 months ago

What part of non contact do you (anybody that is complaining) not understand. This thuggo muggo ball has made me crazy for years.The whole concept provides for what I call philosophical refereeing, which could lead to bad 50/ 50 calls and possibly games being thrown. Bobby Knight said" if you believe all Referees are pure, you are foolish."

Walter Bridges 8 years, 10 months ago

Annette, I think most people here like to see the players decide the game not the whistle. Anyone who thinks that basketball is a noncontact sport doesn't really know much about the game. This rule doesn't address the issue of players boxing out and fighting for position where there is far more contact than hand checking.

What I do not understand is what you mean by the word "pure". Pure as the driven snow? Pure luck? Pure stupidity?

I know....

Pure philosophical crap.

Jeff Mills 8 years, 10 months ago

Exactly. And maybe those issues should be addressed, too. Of course it's a contact sport Walter, but the point is, it should be LESS of one than it's become.

Jeff Mills 8 years, 10 months ago

Kinda like in NFL games when they call holding when it could be called on every single play. Well if they DID call it on every play, blockers would work on their technique more. Players and coaches would adjust. Same here.

Walter Bridges 8 years, 10 months ago

I think that in the NFL, the referees could call a penalty on almost every single play and would be correct if they followed the rulebook word for word. But they don't because doing so would simply turn off viewers and destroy what is the most popular American sport. So what do they do, they call the penalties that affect the results of the play and the most overt ones such as unsportsmanlike conduct.

This was how most basketball games were called but it does allow the referees as they do in the NFL to greatly affect the game by inconsistent judgmental calls. I know that this is what the NCAA is trying to change and I applaud them for that effort but I'm not sure this is the best way of doing it. There is a big difference between hand checking and reaching in and that's what I think the rules committee should have addressed.

Matthew Pyle 8 years, 10 months ago

It should be no different than the Pass Interference rules in pro football. You are allowed to put your hands on the receiver as long as you don't turn him or otherwise impede his route. The crap in the ULM game was unbearable to watch...... it will be interesting to see if they are going to call the games like this in Chicago. They'll be a ton of booing by all teams...

Benz Junque 8 years, 10 months ago

What's odd is that NONE of the other Top 10 teams had games like this. Just bad luck that KU drew the ref crew that wanted to be THOSE GUYS that took their implementation of the new rules to the extreme. I think Tuesday will be better, provided we don't have this same crew.

Erich Hartmann 8 years, 10 months ago

Look, an obvious foul is obvious--nobody is debating that. The point of emphasis here is on the big "gray" area of is-that-hand-touching (not pushing) the dribbling opponent actually impeding the dribbler's progress? The current rule iteration is pure rubbish, and a perfect, PERFECT example of dickering with something that should have been left alone. Lets keep watching to see if the whistles get toned down...

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