MHSAA defends rule

Hand check rule continues to be enforced

BIG RAPIDS — The Michigan High School Athletic Association announced coming into the season that under existing rules and guidelines, the rule against hand checks would be more heavily enforced.

Here’s the rule from the
MHSAA:

“The definition of personal foul was added to eliminate excessive contact on ball handlers outside of the lane area. The following additions constitute a foul when committed against the ball handler/dribbler: placing two hands (fronts or backs of hands) on the player, placing an extended arm bar (forearm away from the body) on the player, placing and keeping a hand on the player, and contacting the player more than once with the same hand or alternating hands.”

Nate Hampton of the MHSAA office said he and his staff haven’t heard anything negative concerning the hand check enforcement.

“I think people saw it coming,” he said. “It started at levels a little bit above us. I think people anticipate we would be making it a huge point of emphasis. The idea of contact on an opponent has been our point of emphasis for a number of years. I think people saw it building, both on the officials side and the coaching side.” Hampton emphasized that calling a foul for placing two hands on a player isn’t new.

“They’ve always been a part of the game,” Hampton said. “We have to try to call it better to try to keep control of the game we have today. The game is moving.”

Various coaches argue that hand checking isn’t being called on a regular basis. That doesn’t surprise Hampton

“We hear consistency issues across the board whether it’s a hard foul or a hard foul,” Hampton said. “I think for the most part, officials are doing a good job. They’re doing as best they can with the game that’s being played today.”

Evart girls coach Kris Morgan maintained after one of his games that officials were not calling hand checking that tightly.

Kent Ingles, who has been coaching boys in Big Rapids for 10 seasons, isn’t quite sure of the impact from the new enforcement.

“I figured it would be like always, enforced early and then ignored, and that has happened,” Ingles said. “It’s probably 50 percent enforced early maybe 10 percent now.”

Ingles noted that most teams run dribble-drive offenses.

It is hard to defend without some ‘bumping,’” he said. “A small hand check might be called, but nothing on hip ‘n leg contact. I would rather see a shooter and the airborne shooter protected, and proper calls on a block/charge, which can be a dangerous play.”

Ingles also isn’t sure how reliable officials can be to call the hand-check consistently.

“In a long season, with too few officials, refs get worn down mentally and physically,” he said.

Beal City girls basketball coach Brad Henry shares similar concerns.

“I was OK with it if it was impeding a player’s progress towards the goal,” he said. “I still feel like it is a good rule, but there should be a warning given to the player first. Obvious hand checks that are too much need to be called the first time. I don’t think it should be called late in games if it has not been called at all throughout the game.

“If it is not impeding progress, I’m not sure that the foul should be called. A defensive player should not be able to use their hands on the drive. Calling this foul should help with this. This rule also helps to control the defensive player from impeding progress towards the rim by extending the arm and holding the offensive player from getting to the rim.”

Mike Schreiber, boys coach at Lakeview hasn’t seen any difference in hand check enforcement this season.

“A rule change doesn’t equate to an enforcement of rule difference,” he said.

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Posted by John Raffel

John is a sports reporter with the Pioneer as well as the Herald Review and The Lake County Star. He also coordinates the weekly Pioneer sports outdoors page. He can be reached at (231) 592-8356 or by email at jraffel@pioneergroup.com.

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