New rules and the enforcement of several pre-existing ones in college basketball have caused a stir nationally. Some games have become parades to the free-throw line.
Gonzaga coach Mark Few wonders what all the fuss is about.
“Not that I can tell, at all,” said Few, when asked if he’s noticed more whistles in Gonzaga’s three games than previous seasons. “Maybe one token call here or there but that’s about it.”
Officials have been asked to crack down on hand-checking, arm bars and chucking cutters to allow more freedom of movement for offenses. It’s become tougher to draw charging fouls. Defenders must be in a set position before the offensive player begins his upward motion.
The changes were spurred by a dip in scoring to 67.5 points per game last season, the lowest since 1981-82.
Gonzaga has been called for 52 fouls (17.3 per game) and its opponents 58 (19.3) in three games. It’s a slight increase over last season when GU averaged 15.7 fouls per game. Gonzaga opponents averaged 19.6 fouls. In the first weekend of the season nationally, about seven more fouls were called per game than last season. A couple weeks in, it was 2.6 additional fouls and scoring was up 4.5 points per contest.
The Oregon-Georgetown season opener saw 59 foul calls and 74 attempted free throws. Syracuse and Fordham recently combined for 72 free throws, 42 by the Orange.
“I was kidding one of the refs. I said to him, ‘The two-hour college basketball game is over,’ ” Fordham coach Tom Pecora told Syracuse.com. “It’ll never happen again.”
Bulldogs guard Gary Bell Jr., regarded as the team’s top defender, has said he’s concentrating on keeping his hands up or back to avoid touch fouls on the perimeter. Oakland played zone defense for nearly 40 minutes and Few noted that he wouldn’t be surprised to see more zones.
There is one spot Few has noticed more fouls called and he’s not sure why. Gonzaga sophomore center Przemek Karnowski has been whistled 11 times in three games, ending two games with four fouls. Karnowski has been limited to 19 minutes per game.
By comparison, forward Sam Dower has committed one foul in 89 minutes.
Karnowski has appeared frustrated at times. After being called for a blocking foul early in the second half versus Bryant, Karnowski had a lengthy discussion with an official to no avail.
“He’s had some tough, tough breaks,” Few said. “He hasn’t had many (fouls) that we can coach him up on. He has a right to go straight up and down.”
Freshman Ryan Edwards has lost 15 pounds after having his tonsils removed two weeks ago. The 7-foot center went home to Kalispell to recover after having surgery in Spokane. He returned Sunday and was a spectator on the bench during Gonzaga’s win over Oakland.
“I’m doing alright,” he said, “I’m doing better than two weeks ago.”
Edwards had doctor’s appointments Monday and Tuesday to help determine when he can return to the court. He hasn’t been able to do any conditioning or physical activity so it appears doubtful he’ll be available for Thursday’s home game against Washington State.
“I’m just physically exhausted all the time,” Edwards said on Sunday. “My appetite is coming back, it’s just how I feel.”