Doug McDermott’s Flagrant 1 foul reignites criticism of rule


Creighton Coach Greg McDermott, father of star Doug, was similarly displeased with the Flagrant 1 whistled.

With 1:03 left in a six-point game Friday, Creighton forward Doug McDermott snagged a defensive rebound and was instantly swarmed by two Cincinnati defenders. Fighting for position within the trap, McDermott pivoted and swung his elbow upwards, clipping Shaquille Thomas in the face.

The referees signaled a foul on McDermott and, after a video review, upgraded it to a Flagrant 1. The call wound up being moot. Thomas missed both free throws, and Creighton won 67-63 behind 27 points and 11 rebounds from Doug McDermott.

Charles Barkley, never one to shy away from an opinion, took particular umbrage with the rule.

“But the guy who wrote the rules has never played a basketball game in his life, probably,” Barkley said. “When you’ve got the ball, and guys are trying to steal the ball from you, you have to be able to get them off you and protect yourself … If someone sticks their hand in the cookie jar, I’m going to knock the hell out of them.”

Such outrage isn’t new. If you recall, broadcaster Doug Gottlieb went on a mini-rant Thursday when Pittsburgh’s Lamar Patterson was whistled in a similar situation after elbowing an opponent on a drive to the hoop (Video via The Big Lead). 

“This is the dumbest thing we do in basketball,” Gottlieb said on air. “This is dumb. This is absolutely, completely moronic. This is not a foul. It’s not a purposeful elbow. It’s a guy driving to the basket and his elbow happens to hit [Tyler Baker] in the mouth. That’s incidental contact. It’s considered a flagrant by letter of the rule book. … You mean to tell me that in the process of driving to the basket he sees Ron Baker, lines him up and elbows him? Come on, he’s protecting the ball and protecting the drive. That’s a basketball move.”

In both situations, the referees made the correct call, at least according to the rule changes adopted by the NCAA in May 2011.

The panel also approved a change in nomenclature on fouls that are deemed more severe than a “common” foul in both men’s and women’s basketball. The terms “Flagrant 1” and “Flagrant 2” will now be used. A Flagrant 1 foul takes the place of an intentional foul and the Flagrant 2 foul replaces the previous flagrant foul.

An example of a Flagrant 1 foul would be when a player swings an elbow and makes illegal, non-excessive contact with an opponent above the shoulders. The team whose player was struck would receive two free throws and possession of the ball. Previously, this type of foul was called an intentional foul. The committee wanted to move away from the word “intentional,” because a player’s intent was never the point to the rule.

An example of a Flagrant 2 foul would be when a player swings an elbow excessively and makes contact with an opponent above the shoulders. In this case, the player who threw the elbow would be ejected from the game, and the other team would receive two free throws and the ball.

So this begs the question: What should become of this rule? Plenty of sportswriters and other college basketball folks say it should be banished.

 

 

 

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Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.

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Alex Prewitt · March 22, 2013