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October 17, 2013
Recent alterations to NCAA rules may directly impact the way Purdue and programs like it play defense.
Tweaks to the way officials are now instructed to make calls on hands checks or in block/charge scenarios may impact two hallmarks of Purdue's long-standing defensive strategy: Full-court ball pressure and taking charges, in part in an effort to free up offenses while also creating a universal standard for often-ambiguous situations.
"I do know this: As time goes on, they do want to see players stay in the game," Coach Matt Painter said, "so as coaches, we have to do our part and if there's a major adjustment, the officials will have to do their part and stay consistent with calls.
"I think when calls change or there's a change in emphasis, the only thing players, coaches and fans want is a consistent call. You don't want one crew calling it one way on Wednesday, another crew calling it different on Saturday."
With use of hands, it's now mandated that officials call a foul on any defender who keeps his hand or forearm on a ball-handler or puts two hands on them; uses a forearm or "arm bar" to direct movement; or repeatedly jabs with his hand or forearm at an offensive player.
For Purdue point guard Ronnie Johnson, he admits it might be an adjustment.
"Definitely, especially when somebody makes a move right in front of and cuts off of you, sometimes you have to (use your hands)," the sophomore said. "It's going to be hard to start doing something new."
Painter believes the alterations are intended to create a more NBA-like environment for offensive players, one in which they're freer to move with defensive maneuvers regulated accordingly. But it's nothing all that new, Painter said, as the hand check has long been a point of emphasis.
"I think coaches are all for that," Painter said. "It's something we're going to have to adjust to and try to be aggressive without fouling and move your feet. It's not a whole lot different than it's been in the past. We'll see how things get called. The game is still the same game."
As for the charge/block call, maybe the most debated call, generally speaking, in the game, Painter believes things may change.
Defensive players attempting to draw a charge may no longer shift toward (or under) an offensive player once that player has left his feet.
"It's made it pretty tough to take a charge from what I gathered from the film and instruction," Painter said. "To not go in motion before they've left the ground, you have to be set for a long time before there's contact. It's a difficult call to make, the most difficult call for officials to make, now with the restricted arc being in there, and that took a little of an adjustment for everyone. You're going to see guys who are absolutely set when guys leave the ground and on contact, it's just going to look like a normal charge and it's going to be called a block."
Overall, if these emphases are strictly enforced, it will affect Purdue, at least one player believes.
"I think it's going to impact us and teams in the Big Ten a lot, because we're a pretty aggressive league and we like to get into people," Purdue guard Terone Johnson said. "It's just something we're going to have to emphasize in practice and work on each day."
It might also make for some choppiness early in the season, as players and coaches get accustomed to officiating and vice versa.
"We're definitely going to have to play through some calls and things like that," Terone Johnson said. "But after a while, some players play defense different ways and some teams play defense different and at some point, they're going to have to adjust to us."
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