Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

College Basketball Needs Palm Readers for Officials

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

College Basketball Needs Palm Readers for Officials

Article excerpt

We aren't persnickety basketball purists. We do not scoff at the dunk, lament the demise of peach basket goals or pine for the game to be played inside a cage again.

But we all have our limits, and ours is at the rampant abuse of the third of James Naismith's 13 original rules of the game from 1891:

"A player cannot run with the ball."

No?

While college basketball bears down on untucked shirttails - not that we're mocking that - it continues to disregard the parody being made of dribbling. Through years of neglected enforcement of "palming," players now so flagrantly flout the rule that they might as well tuck the ball under their arms - or untucked jerseys - and run with it.

Call us shrill. But if it's ridiculous enough for former UCLA coach John Wooden to call it the single thing he'd change first about today's college basketball, it's good enough for us to whine about.

"I'm on your side on that," said John Erickson, Big Eight Conference assistant commissioner and supervisor of officiating. "If you're not going to adjudicate the palming of the ball, let's take it out of the rules."

Enforcement has eroded to the point, Erickson said, where officials try to regulate it on an "advantage-disadvantage" basis - if it is carried to facilitate a player going to the basket or abruptly changing direction. But even that is seldom called.

"When I coached, you had to put your hand on top of the ball or at least on the side of the ball - not under it," he said. "Right now, that rule is being broken a great deal."

Postman Always Rings Twice: MU coach Norm Stewart last week gushed about how he had never had a player who took too many shots. That, though, stirred memories of one of Stewart's more memorable postgame assessments.

After Mizzou's 75-63 loss to Illinois in 1987, Stewart was steamed over Derrick Chievous' berserk shot selection and said Chievous had invoked the "postman's creed." Which goes, according to Stewart . . .

"I do hereby solemnly swear to shoot the ball and continue to shoot the ball until both arms are severed from my body, regardless of how many men are open."

Reminded of that on Friday, Stewart wheezed with laughter and said, "One game. …

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