After the first week of the new season, it's safe to say that the college basketball teams across the nation are having a difficult time transitioning to the new hand-checking rules.
In week one, the University of Colorado Buffaloes held a 3-1 record after falling to Baylor University in game one and defeating a tough Wyoming team in game three. In each of those games, the new hand-checking rules played a key role in the Buffs' performance.
Some of the new rules include putting two hands on an opponent, keeping a hand on or jabbing at the player with the ball, and impeding the dribbling process of the opponent. From now on, a foul will be called every time.
As head coach Tad Boyle put it in a press conference last week, "We have to get our arms out; you cannot touch them with your hands or any part of your arm. And I'm talking about touch. But that's the way it's going to be; we're going to have to figure that out."
In their season opener against Baylor, the Buffs were afraid to attack the basket and that contributed to their 72-60 loss against the Bears.
"I think these new hand-check rules are in everybody's heads: players, coaches, everybody," Boyle said after practice on Tuesday. "Baylor's a good example. We were really, really soft on the ball because our guys were afraid to foul. We can't be afraid to foul. We got to understand what's a foul and what's not a foul."
Even with the Buffs playing a "soft" game, 44 fouls were called between the two teams that night. CU committed 21 of those fouls, which was slightly better than Baylor's 23 fouls.
That seemed to be a trend for Colorado in the first week of the 2013-14 season. In each of their four games, a minimum of 42 fouls were called. That's just over a foul per minute.
In last Sunday's home opener against the University of Tennessee-Martin, the Buffs committed 18 out of 42 total fouls. Three days later, they picked up 19 fouls out of 48 against Wyoming.
During the Jackson State game a few days after that, 45 fouls were called, and the Buffs accounted for 18 of them.
That meant 179 fouls were called in four games, and the Buffs were responsible for 76.
At least they seem to be transitioning a little better than their opponents. Coach Boyle has been implementing the new rules in practice every day to help his team make the transition, and it's certainly showing on the court.
"Every day (Boyle) tells us we have to get our hands out and away from the defender so the refs have no choice but not to call the foul," freshman guard Jaron Hopkins said. "Other than that, we just have to keep our body out in front and stay close to guys."
Since the start of the season, Boyle has expressed his opinion concerning the new hand-checking restrictions time and time again.
"I don't like it," Boyle said. "Haven't liked it from the beginning, but I'm not going to change it. So we better adjust to it. We talk about getting our arms out and moving our feet. If the offense creates contact in the chest, we have to take the charge."
While Boyle may not agree with the new regulations, his players have mixed feelings about them.
According to junior guard Askia Booker "There's a pro and a con. On defense, it kind of sucks. You can't bump somebody off especially for guys like me, if you're guarding somebody bigger. On my side, offensively, I can go by people now. If they touch me, it's a foul."
Although Booker admitted that the rules help send guards like him to the free throw line more often, he added that, "I think it interrupts the flow (of the game). I mean, if you want to see a high score, then it improves it. But at the same time, we can't be physical, and the guys at the next level are really physical. They hand check a lot, and they play really hard."
Hopkins, also a guard, said that the rules did not bother him as much as Boyle and Booker.
"It's taking away the physicality of the game, but it's a good rule, I like it," Hopkins said.
He may get sent to the line more during games now, but Hopkins also noted that, "As a whole, I think that the scoring is going down a little bit. The game is a little bit slower and the crowd's not too into it because a lot of calls are being called. It's taking a little bit out of the game."
Regardless of what the players think, the new rules are here to stay.
"Guarding the ball, keeping the ball in front of us is number one, and doing so without fouling," Boyle said. "Getting our hands off and moving our feet, I think every college basketball coach in America right now is probably working on that. Again, with these new hand-check rules, that's number one."