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Huskies get help from referees on new defensive rules
Lorenzo Romar has had officials at every practice to help interpret and explain defensive rules designed to increase scoring and create a free-flowing game.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Lorenzo Romar joked he has added several new assistants to the Washington men’s basketball coaching staff.
They wear black-and-white shirts. They carry whistles around their necks and they’ve been blowing them a lot at practice recently.
They’re referees — Romar’s invited guests — who are instructing the Huskies on the do’s and don’ts with the NCAA’s new defensive rules.
“Thank goodness we’ve been able to have officials come in because it was a shock to our team,” he said. “Shockwaves just went through all of practice. ‘(It was) like whoa, we can’t do anything. If I look at him too long is that a foul, too.’”
Welcome to the new hands-off NCAA where impeding a player with the ball is no longer allowed.
The officials will now outlaw hand-checking and limit a team’s ability to take charges. It will also be an automatic foul for a defender to place two hands on an opponent or use an arm-bar on the back of an offensive player who is backing down.
The new rules are intended to improve the quality of college basketball and create a more free-flowing game without the grabbing, jabbing and clutching that led to four straight years of declining scoring among Division I teams.
Last season, teams averaged 67.5 points, the lowest since the 1951-52 season.
Romar likened the new defensive rule changes to the addition of the shot clock and three-point line in 1985 and ’86 respectively.
“The game that you remember is going to change,” said Bobby Dibler, the new Pac-12 and Mountain West officiating coordinator. “And as a result, there’s probably going to be more fouls as everyone gets adjusted.”
Romar has used officials at practice in the past, but this year he has hired 3-4 local refs to work every practice. After Saturday’s intrasquad scrimmage, he had the Pac-12 officials address the team.
“We asked them to talk to our team and talk to them about where we could potentially get ourselves in trouble by the way we’re defending and how we’re setting screens,” Romar said. “They said this is how we’re going to call and what’s not going to be called. This is how you have to defend it. I thought it was great. We had some little extra teaching there.”
Under Romar, the Huskies have been a ballhawking team that applies lots of pressure on the perimeter and places a premium on taking charges.
The Huskies have also historically been one of the most penalized teams in the conference. Last season, they ranked ninth in the Pac-12 averaging 17.1 fouls.
Despite three weeks with the officials at practice, it has been difficult for the Huskies to break old habits.
“Our team is struggling a little bit,” senior co-captain C.J. Wilcox said. “The way we want to play it’s tough to keep your hands off guys when you want to get up in them and pick up full-court. So it’s something we definitely have to work on.”
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @percyallen.