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WRNL Exclusive: Big 12 Coaches on Impact of Personal Space Rule Change

WRNL spoke to each Big 12 men’s basketball coach to get their thoughts on the new rule change.

NCAA Basketball: Big 12-Media Day Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Several rule changes were proposed and adopted by the college basketball rules committee this summer. One of the more notable changes, besides a 30 second shot clock, was a redoubled effort to increase freedom of movement.

The new term, “vertical cylinder,” refers to the space around an offensive player. This is expanded from a bubble of space to a space that stretches to the rafters. This change has the potential to dramatically alter the way teams play defense.

Wide Right & Natty Lite decided to reach out to each Big 12 men’s basketball coach to get their thoughts on this rule change.

Steve Prohm: “Well, to be honest, I’m not too worried about this rule change. We’ve got to defend better at all levels. The defense has really been a weak link for our team the past few seasons. But to practice this rule change, we’ve been having the scout team wear those inflatable beer can costumes, which has been a great tool for us.”


Chris Beard: Could not be reached*.

*Our many attempts to reach out to the new Texas Tech coach did not succeed, for whatever reason. When we navigated to the men’s basketball section of the TTU Athletics website, we were redirected to this web page.

Lon Kruger: “With as many players as we lost last year, I tend to worry more about replacing that production than this rule change. We’ll instead focus on the shorter shot clock and keeping up on the offensive end of the floor. Thankfully, the guys we lost left a great legacy of playing clean defense. Buddy Hield did a nice job of playing clean defense on Georges Niang last year, and Ryan Spangler always played a clean game down in the paint.”

Shaka Smart: “Our defense is all about wreaking havoc, as you all know by now, This past season, due to our personnel, we really couldn’t play defense the way I wanted to. This year, I expect us to be right up there with the Mountaineers in terms getting after people. I mean, at least one of the programs around here has to play some defense...”

Bruce Weber: “This rule change has no bearing on our program. See, it all comes down to effort. Personal cylinder, hell, it could be a shipping container’s worth of personal space. It all comes back to effort and hustle. We have to grind on the defensive end. We’ll probably pay attention to these rule changes for the games against Kansas, but won’t really use them after that.”

Jamie Dixon: Defense? I’m not sure that term is well understood around here. Quite frankly, the defense TCU has played in the past has been prehistoric.”

“Since we’ve finished at or near the bottom of the conference in defense each year, any defense would be an improvement. But I’m looking forward to the challenge of attempting to play some defense for the first time in years.”

Brad Underwood: "Well, the new rule gives the offense more space, and luckily I hear we have a bunch of that in our games at Gallagher-Iba Arena. When only a few hundred people show up, our defenders will be able to give so much space that they can go grab a walking taco and be back to defend their guy in the time of one possession since there's no lines at the concessions! In all seriousness, there have been some great defenders who have come through here in recent years, and we hope to emulate some of the things those guys have done.”


Bob Huggins: “Where do I even begin with this rule change? I don’t get it. Don’t understand it. Why make the change? They already made it impossible to defend at the start of last year. There were so many fouls. My guys never foul. We play good, clean, hard-nosed defense. Never dirty, just tough. Then again, some guys do like to foul I guess. I’ve got some guys that think they are Ron Artest. My guards think they are Patrick Beverly. Unbelievable.”

“You know what? We are going to have to adjust. We’ll start practicing with 4, 3, or maybe even 2 players on the court. 5 on 2. That’s it. We are probably going to get in foul trouble, so why not be prepared? There was a good part of the rule changes though, thank f***ing god. Armbars are now legal even when the defender has the ball. We are going armbar the shit out of teams. Double armbars. Triple armbars. Ronda Rousey will even be jealous.”

Scott Drew: “Defense man! Gotta love defense. You know, it’s nice that we play a zone defense really. We allow there to be plenty of space horizontally, so what’s a little vertical personal space? That’s what shot blockers are for, man. We have some of those, you know, we always have some of those guys. Timeout, timeout. Do we have any of those this year? Seriously guys, can we take five?”

Bill Self: “I honestly wasn't aware of this rule change, but I don’t see it affecting Jayhawk basketball in any way. Our team always manages to stay out of foul trouble, especially when we play at home. We do a great job of not fouling on our own court. Heck, we can’t even foul our guys out on the road, so I’m not worried.’’

We followed this up by asking him if his freshmen would have any difficulty transitioning to this new rule...

“No, I don’t imagine they will struggle to adjust at all. My freshmen never struggle to adjust to the college game. They’ve all made immediate impacts and make it so that I just can’t keep them on the bench at all. Them playing so many minutes really helps their draft stock, to boot.”