By Bruce Sayler
Extra free throw shooting might be a bigger part of high school basketball practices when drills begin in Montana next week.
The one-and-one sanction has been taken from the rulebook in a move made last spring by the National Federation of State High School Associations. So, it is likely more two-shot fouls will be in occurrence.
“The purpose (of the change) is to eliminate the one-and-one,” John Kinzle, Montana Officials Associate district delegate for the Butte basketball pool, said Friday moments before he and Sean Ryan were to work a junior high school game at Butte Central High School. “It is to eliminate the rough play on the first shot and to speed the game up.”
The seventh foul charged a team in a half had previously meant the opponent was given the bonus opportunity at the free throw line from then on following common, or non-shooting, fouls. The shooter would receive a second free throw if he or she made the first. Kinzle said players converging from the lanes trying to rebound or screen out a rival on a missed first free throw often caused “rough play” with elbows out and buttocks pushing against competitors.
“Sometimes, there’d be injuries,” the veteran ref said.
The new rule is similar to what was implemented in college women’s basketball a few years ago. There are no more one-shot free throws. Teams will be limited to five fouls per quarter before the bonus opportunity is awarded. The sixth foul will cause the offending team to send the opponent to the line for two shots. The team count will be reset at the start of each quarter.
“Under the old rules, if a team was in the bonus in the third quarter, it was also in it for the fourth quarter and that tended to be a long game,” Kinzle said. “This new rule should speed the game up.”
Kinzle indicated that it is expected trailing teams will foul less in later moments if the penalty is to allocate more free throws to the opponents now that there will be no or lesser tempted gamble on the one-and-one. If a team was behind on the scoreboard in prior years, it seemed automatic that team would commit fouls to cause clock stoppage and hope to rebound a possible missed foul shot.
“The rationale is to give the teams better flows,” Kinzle said. “College women went to this rule recently and everything seems to be fine with it.”
Coaches seem to be taking a wait-and-see approach, but with sprinklings of help and optimism.
Butte Central head boys’ basketball coach Brodie Kelly said he didn’t have an opinion formed.
“I’m pretty indifferent about it,” he said. “I’m actually not sure of the logic behind that rule change. I wish they would change individual fouls to six to foul out.”
Kinzle predicted the change to be an improvement.
“I think it will be a better game for us,” he said. “And, we think it will be better for the kids, too, because they can get into a flow and get rid of so much stop-and-go. Games should be shorter.
“We have to see, but I think it might speed up the ends of games.”
Bryan Arntson reffed basketball before taking the reins of the Butte High girls’ program two seasons ago.
“I actually love (the change),” he told Paul Panisko in a KMBR sports web site article earlier this year. “I’ve been saying for years that they need to change. From both a referee and a coaching standpoint, I think that it allows the kids to adapt to how the game is being reffed and adjust. It also helps with the flow of the game. A lot of games have teams shooting free throws for over a quarter of each half.
“It does change end-of-game scenarios without the one-and-one, but, overall, I think it’s a great change.”
Ryan said he really likes the rule as used in college women’s basketball.
Kinzle said another new rule fans will notice deals with ball inbounds after play stoppage. He said the ball used to be inbounded from a designated zone nearest where the ball left the court. Now, he said, only four spots on each side of the midcourt stripe will be used for re-entry.
The 28-foot mark on each side of the stripe and each side of the floor will be the sites on the side of the court. Spots three feet each side of the free throw lanes at each end will be used for end-of-court inbounding.