Saturday, March 31, 2012

Lane Violation: Craft, Ohio State Latest Casualties of NCAA Basketball Free Throw Rule

Ohio State Buckeyes guard Aaron Craft was called for a lane violation after purposely missing the second of a one-and-one free throw situation toward the end of the OSU vs. Kansas Final Four semi-final game.

This has been the NCAA Tournament of the lane violation, the March Madness of fundamental, yet technical basketball rules. Somehow, this has also been the postseason of lapses: in judgment, in memory and in knowledge.

It certainly is no comfort to Ohio State that Craft had been warned about lane violations earlier in this year's NCAA Tournament. When warned by an official not to cross the restraining line too early during a free throw on March 17, Craft acknowledged his understanding: "I saw it yesterday [with Notre Dame]."

Speaking of Notre Dame, that game was one of two huge situations in which the lane violation has taken a team out of contention late in a ballgame: 16-seed UNC Asheville was correctly penalized for a lane violation while trying to upset No. 1 Syracuse, while the aforementioned Fighting Irish frittered away its own opportunity to shoot bonus free throws in the waning moments of its loss to Xavier, that call having been made by referee Mike Stuart.

For those wondering why mention the official's name, we will see Mike Stuart on Monday during the NCAA National Championship game between Kansas and Kentucky.

Today, however, it was Tom Eades, Jamie Luckie and Pat Adams who were tasked with officiating Craft's over-exuberant end-of-game sequence.

To reiterate once and for all—and with the hope that this call doesn't have to rear its head once again during Monday's National Championship game—NCAA Basketball Rule 9-1-d, "the free-thrower shall not leave the semicircle before the try contacts the ring, flange, or backboard or until the free throw ends."

NCAA Basketball Rule 9-1-c, "the free-thrower shall not break the vertical plane of the free-throw line with either foot until the ball strikes the ring, flange, or backboard or until the free throw ends."

By now, this must be the most well-known provision in the entire NCAA rules book, especially with a Final Four lane violation call leading to chaos as Buckeyes were left wondering what happened, why the free throw was suddenly over and why the Jayhawks were inbounding the ball. Somewhere in all that confusion, Kansas inbounded the ball to an open player and Ohio State elected not to play defense though 2.9 seconds remained on the clock.

Perhaps the end-all theme of this tournament really should be the ever-popular "learn the rules" mantra. I can just picture Coordinator of Officials John Adams right now in his annual referee training video sent out to conferences and officiating bodies prior to the season: "call the violation. The players will adjust."

The officials are certainly calling the violation—I'm just not that sure the players are adjusting.

28 comments :

jernieb said...

The rule is the rule; just didn't get it right here, since Craft didn't violate it.

jernieb said...

The rule is the rule; just didn't get it right here, since Craft didn't violate it.

Gil Imber said...

FYI, the NCAA basketball championship game officiating crew will include: Verne Harris, Mike Stuart and Mark Whitehead. Roger Ayers will serve as the alternate official, as he has done all weekend.

Anonymous said...

If that is the rule language...not clear what "leaving" means. does he have to touch outside the semicircle? Is it feet and not hands?

Anonymous said...

is leaning into the the lane "leaving the semicircle"? Because your arm leans into it at every throw.

Gil Imber said...

You're right, here's the more specific provision, Rule 9-1-c: "The free-thrower shall not break the vertical plane of the free-throw line with either foot until the ball strikes the ring, flange or backboard or until the free throw ends." No room for interpretation there, it's feet; no restriction on hands.

Anonymous said...

"shall not leave the semicircle"

What does that mean? I think 9-1-c is more pertinent about the free throwers foot not crossing the plane of the free throw line. But it wasn't clear that it did. Bad call, imo.

Anonymous said...

Great play by Craft... he just went too fast. If he waited a fraction of a second more, then he would have been in compliance with the rules and could have had that dramatic put-back. Just a fraction of a second too fast...

Anonymous said...

Are we sure he broke the vertical plane of the free-throw line before the ball hit the rim? Looks too close to call for me.

Anonymous said...

So is intentionally missing a free throw a violation? I know that the rules say a free throw must be a "try" and a "try" must be an actual attempt to score one-, two-, or three-points. If Craft intentionally clanks the shot, he's clearly not trying to score, so it's not a try by rule. Can't they call that violation? It says "the free-thrower shall not purposely fake a try." Isn't intentionally missing a free throw the exact definition of faking a try? NCAA should clearly define that rule.

Tony Haire said...

Try in rule book jargon is not the same as WEbster's. A FT is a try whether he's trying to make it or not. As long as the ball hits the rim/flange, that attempt is legal.

And yes, the FT violation was the correct call.

Anonymous said...

Ah, okay. That makes sense. Thanks Tony.

Anonymous said...

It was clearly an anticipated call which indicates the referee did not know the rule. Look at the players reactions BEFORE Craft crosses the vertical line. The players along the lane turn away from the basketball and toward the whistle blowing referee. The aniticpated whistle gave Craft unimpeded access to the rebound because all the othlays layers were distracted. And no, it is not clear, even in slow motion, whether Craft's right foot crosses the vertical line before the ball contacts the rim. Finally, there was no reason for the baseline referee to rush the last inbounds play in light of the snail's pace management of the prior 39mins and 57.1secs of the game

Anonymous said...

Why is there any question of this being a violation? He clearly crossed the line prior to the ball hitting the rim.

Anonymous said...

I do not understand the people saying this is a bad call. This was a good call. Pause the video at 20 seconds - Craft is across the plane and the ball has not yet touched the basket, it's a fairly straightforward call for those who know the rules. Those looking for a blown call should head elsewhere - such as the traveling call against Withey that preceded this play.

Anonymous said...

He clearly missed the shot anyway and if the officials had not blown the call at the other end against Withey, Ohio state would have lost anyway.

Anonymous said...

KU fan and basketball ref here. The Withey travel call was actually correct. It took me 15 times watching it to come to that conclusion, but he comes down with the pass from Taylor on his right foot while dragging his left, jumps, and lands on both feet. Two feet to two feet is a travel every time. Impressive (and heartbreaking) call.

Anonymous said...

Craft clearly broke the plane with his feet well before the ball hit the rim, so the call was good. I was interested to hear the actual rule because I thought that the foot had to touch to commit the violation - I didn't know that it just had to break the vertical plane.

Really, though, this game was close enough that one different call could have changed the outcome. It seemed to me that KU got away with more contact under the basket than OSU did, but I'm no expert so I'm not qualified to make that judgment.

Back to the free throw thing, though. I hate nothing worse than watching these guys that can't miss an open jump shot from anywhere shoot 60% from the free throw line. Shouldn't they just back up behind the line, dribble and take a jump shot? Is there anything that says their feet have to stay on the floor?

Anonymous said...

9-1-c was clearly violated, not even close.

Anonymous said...

Notice how much people are complaining despite the call being right. Imagine if it had been blown!

Anonymous said...

He blew the the attempt by committing a lane violation. Silly rule in my opinion, but it is and has been the rule for awhile.

What really needs discussion is why a non-shooting foul beyond the 3-point arc is not a 2 and 1 or 1 and 1 and 1 opportunity.

It would make you think really hard about fouling to catch up...or in this case to prevent a team from catching up. I'd much rather see them play basketball than shoot FTs.

I think this is a good case for amending those rules.

Anonymous said...

I cannot emphatically state whether Craft committed the lane violation, as I believe it was too close to call and probably impossible to determine from a video replay the camera angles provided. However, I don’t believe that the majority (not all but most) of fans (for each team) can be impartial enough to make an honest call; we all want to defend our team and often see what we want to see. Reading the ESPN blogs during the various tournament games, I was amazed how differently the fans interpreted the games. In my opinion, there have been so many questionable & inconsistent calls (by the referees) throughout this season that this call was no surprise. KU fans may disagree: but KU didn’t win that game, OSU lost it. OSU dominated and led most of the game. KU played tough and scored when it mattered – but that’s the name of the game.

frankincensed said...

It was a good call, just a bad rule. There is a lane violation by someone on nearly every contested rebound of a missed free throw, yet it is almost never called, but a close call like this on the shooter and the referees feel obligated to call it. Way too many rules in basketball that are subjective and thus inconsistently adhered to. Once again, the refs decided the game....

Anonymous said...

frankincensed,

What if the official had not called the violation and Craft had made the putback. You could argue the refs would have decided the game by not calling a violation.

Anonymous said...

It is ridiculous to argue that a ref should not make a call because of the impact it will have on the outcome. If they have a call to make, they have to make it. If they had not called the violation and Craft had put his rebound in, Ohio State might have gone on to win. Then fans would complain that the refs had decided the game in Ohio State's favor. Craft decided the game by jumping into the lane early.

Anonymous said...

As you could see on other FT's the players are almost always in the lane early. So why wait until that time to call it. I thought it was a great play by Craft. If he makes it, it is a tie game and KU has the ball and 3 sec to score or OT

Anonymous said...

Ohio State has themselves to blame for the end-of-game sequence. First, Craft jumped into the lane early. This is against the rules, and therefore not a good play. Also, the Ohio State players were too preoccupied with the call to pay attention to the ensuing in-bounds pass. Their own lapse cost them any remaining shot at winning the game.

tmac said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

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