published Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Officials still adjusting to block-charge

NEW ORLEANS -- It has happened more than once in every game throughout this NCAA basketball tournament. An offensive player drives to the rim. A defensive player appears to get there late. There's a collision around the arc that the NCAA has added under the basket to make the block-charge call easier to officiate.

The referee whistles a charge. A video replay appears to indicate a block. The crowd inside the arena boos.

Is this any way to officiate March Madness?

"I'd like to see it be more consistent," said Pete Gillen, who coached Providence over the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in the 1997 Sweet 16 and now does television work.

"I like the idea of the arc, but there are too many charges called. The defensive player needs to be set for at least three-quarters of a second. You need to be set before the offensive player leaves his feet. Otherwise, it should be a block."

Fran Fraschilla has both coached college basketball -- Manhattan and New Mexico -- and served as a commentator for ESPN.

"The rule has been an adjustment for players, coaches and officials," he said of the arc that was supposed to make it easier for officials, with collisions outside the arc usually being ruled as charges and those inside the arc (under the basket) ruled as blocks, similar to the NBA.

"Many top officials I've talked to are still learning to look for the players' feet outside the arc, as well as the legal guarding position of the defender. Over time, the arc is going to make the officials' job easier, but they're not there yet. Still, I think they're getting it right at at least the same rate they did -- which is probably around 96 percent -- before the arc was painted on the floor."

Atlanta 2013 host

The 75th Final Four comes to Atlanta's Georgia Dome next spring, with the national semifinals scheduled for April 6 and the final to be played on April 8.

But there's much work to do before that game, particularly for Khalil Johnson, the former chief operating officer for the World Congress Center and Georgia Dome who now advises the NCAA on its championships, especially the Final Four.

Though Johnson was still busy solving problems for this Final Four on Monday night, he also has spent a good deal of time the past few days thinking about next year's event.

"It takes almost a month to set it up and take it down," he said. "It's a long process, obviously a big event, and you want to get everything right."

Other than Atlanta, the only regional sites remotely close to Chattanooga will be Dayton, Ohio -- which will host the "First Four" play-in games as well as a second- and third-round site -- and Lexington, Ky., which also will be a second- and third-round site.

Regional final sites are Dallas (South), Indianapolis (Midwest) and Los Angeles (West). The East remains undecided, though Madison Square Garden appears to be the favorite at this point.

Contact Mark Wiedmer at mwiedmer@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6273.

about Mark Wiedmer...

Mark Wiedmer started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press on Valentine’s Day of 1983. At the time, he had to get an advance from his boss to buy a Valentine gift for his wife. Mark was hired as a graphic artist but quickly moved to sports, where he oversaw prep football for a time, won the “Pick’ em” box in 1985 and took over the UTC basketball beat the following year. By 1990, he was ...

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