College basketball will have some new rules this year, designed to improve scoring in college basketball. You can read this ESPN link for the full rundown, but in easy bulletpoint form, the new rules are:
- no keeping a hand or forearm on an opponent
- no putting two hands on an opponent
- no continuously jabbing an opponent by placing a hand or forearm on the opponent
- no armbar to impede progress of a dribbler
- it is now a block unless the defender is in a set position when the offensive player begins to lift off the floor.
- This isn't specifically addressed in the article, but there will be less bumping of cutters allowed as well
As outlined in our ranking of all of the Jayhawks, there are 10 guys on the team who could comfortably play and not look out of place in a major division 1 college basketball game. There are three guys who could back up Naadir Tharpe if he gets in foul trouble, the big man rotation could get to six deep, and they can do any number of things with the wings (i.e. playing Wiggins at the two and going with a really big lineup, or playing him at the four and going really small). Sure this means Andrew Wiggins is pretty indispensable but that's not really breaking any news.
Kansas should be free to play tough defense and not worry about committing a few fouls. They can play up on guys and not let them get free looks but, as we'll discuss later, their defense isn't really about bumping guys up top (except for big man hedging, which they can do a lot of considering their depth). Kansas should (should) have quite a few guys who can defend well without fouling this year, but in case they need to bring guys off the bench, the drop off should be minimal.
Kansas obviously is going to have some great outside shooters. Conner Frankamp and Brannen Greene each have great reputations in that respect, and Andrew White III, while he struggled from deep last year, has really sound mechanics and also came into Lawrence as a guy who people thought would be able to fill it up from beyond the arc. In addition, Wayne Selden can shoot it and Andrew Wiggins has reportedly been working very hard on his shot.
But the real strength of this offense should be in penetration. Andrew Wiggins is one of the more explosive athletes we will ever see as Kansas fans, and he can get into the lane seemingly at will. Wayne Selden likewise can get to the rim, and Naadir Tharpe did a really good job at times last year of penetrating. Perry Ellis was very good at drawing fouls as well, and now that he is an established player with some more bulk on him he should draw even more in 2013-14. Kansas led the Big 12 in going to the line last year and that was with a group that didn't really feature much penetration. This year they should not only lead the Big 12 but be up there nationally as well.
No drawing charges on defense
Kansas had the best shot block percentage at the rim last year and was 4th in opponent field goal percentage at the rim, both according to Hoop Math. Granted that is with Jeff Withey, but Kansas has always relied on shot blocking and challenging shots at the rim rather than drawing charges. This one is less important, but if referees are that serious about giving the offense the benefit of the doubt on those block/charge calls, that's a few fewer fouls Kansas will commit and on the flipside it's a few more calls they should draw on the offensive end.
These rules changes, if stuck to, should give Kansas a leg up this year. While Bill Self generally likes to stick to an 8 man rotation, if guys are constantly in foul trouble over the first couple weeks of the season, it could see him expanding his bench a bit and giving guys who might have been redshirt candidates some extra playing time.
But while it should be good from a winning games standpoint, it should also be good from an aesthetics standpoint. I don't know about you, dear reader, but any rule change that allows us to witness something like this is a good one.