With the NCAA cracking down on hand checking by defenders, a game between the Niagara Purple Eagles and the Seton Hall Pirates showcased what might be the new reality when they were whistled for a combined 73 fouls, Matt Norlander with CBS Sports reported on Sunday.
Seton Hall beat Niagara, 83-72, in their season opener. But the takeaway from the story was the fouls called from the offseason rule change -- a full 73 of them that resulted in six players combined fouling out.
Among other highlights, or lowlights depending on how you look at it, the two teams combined for 102 free throw attempts, and close to one-third of the total points scored in the game came from the charity stripe. The game lasted close to two and a half hours, approximately a half hour more than the average college basketball game lasts. Sterling Gibbs, Seton Hall's leading scorer in the game, scored 17 of his 23 points from the free throw line. He was 17-of-23 from the line and shot just five shots from the floor.
The game also had more fouls called than any game last season, and we are just in our first weekend of this season.
The hand checking rule changes were emphasized by the NCAA prior to the start of the season in order to give the offense a little bit more of an edge. Last season, the average score for teams was 67.5 points a game, the lowest it has been since the 1981-82 season, according to USA Today.
Coaches had plenty of notice and time to prepare for the way the games would be officiated this year, but as the Niagara and Seton Hall game proves, it will be a transition for everyone involved to adapt to the new rules. Oklahoma Sooners coach Lon Kruger's statement to USA Today echoes a lot of coaches' sentiments early on.
"Tons of fouls, a lot of free throws, long, ugly games. Hopefully fans can prepare for that. It is going to be frustrating."
The Louisville Cardinals got their notification early in an exhibition game against Kentucky Wesleyan. The two teams combined for 64 fouls, resulting in 88 free throws in the game.