TERRE HAUTE — The biggest change in college basketball for the 2013-14 is not really a change at all in the truest sense of the term.
Starting this season, several officiating guidelines that had slipped out of use by officials and teams in an increasingly physical sport, were codified by the NCAA.
Keeping a hand on an opponent, putting two hands on an opponent, jabbing with a hand or forearm and use of arm bar to impede dribblers are all rules rather than guidelines. Moreover, an emphasis was placed on the block/charge play in favor of the offense.
This is a sea change for college basketball, and particularly, in the Missouri Valley Conference. The most successful teams in the MVC in the last decade-plus have used the kind of defensive tactics the new rules are trying to stamp out.
Evidence of the new rules came into play during Indiana State’s 96-95 loss at Belmont on Nov. 14. A total of 50 fouls were called as the Sycamores and Bruins marched to the free throw line 65 times.
While teams that can’t adjust to the new emphasis will suffer, there will be winners as well. Players who can penetrate the lane and get to the basket should thrive under the new edict. It’s something that hasn’t been lost on coaches.
“I’m guessing every coach is emphasizing ball-penetration. Drive it. If this player has a foul or two and he’s their best player, let’s figure out if we can get him isolated,” Illinois State coach Dan Muller said.
For ISU, one player immediately comes to mind as far as who might benefit most from the new rules -- senior point guard Jake Odum. There are other Sycamores -- Khristian Smith, Devonte Brown and Manny Arop -- who can penetrate, but no one has the ball in their hands more than Odum does.