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Coaches, players and fans adjusting to new bonus free-throw rules


Ozark's Hudson Roberts was glad the Tigers tipped off at 4 p.m. at the Republic Tournament on Wednesday, allowing him to watch the start of Arkansas' much-anticipated showdown against Duke at 8:30 that night.

"I'm definitely going to go home and support my team. I'm glad I get to watch it,” said Roberts, an Arkansas baseball commit.

It appeared for a while Roberts might not be able to see the Razorbacks and Dukies, after all. Ozark’s game with Park Hill South seemingly would never end, as both teams repeatedly made trips to the free-throw line.

The Tigers and Panthers combined to shoot 61 free throws, with Ozark taking 40 freebies, or an average of 1.3 free throws a minute.

Roberts scored 10 of his 25 points on free throws. Park Hill South’s Colby Kiedrowski had 12 of his game-high 26 points at the free-throw line.

The absolute yawner of a game didn’t exactly serve as an endorsement for the National Federation of High Schools’ new rules on bonus free throws:  

— One-and-one free throws that began with the seventh team foul in a half no longer exist. Teams in the bonus are now awarded two free throws.

  Teams are in the bonus when the opposition commits its fifth common foul in a quarter. 

— Foul counts reset at the end of each quarter.

Ozark coach Mark Schweitzer feels and fears the rules changes are going to encourage teams with the lead to hold onto the ball more than ever.

“We need a shot clock if they're going to do this,” Schweitzer said. “To take away one-and-one, it's absolutely imperative they put a shot-clock in. Otherwise, with a lead you're going to sit on the ball even more if you know you're getting two shots every time. If you're coming from behind, you're giving up two free throws every time you're trying to force turnovers. You can't foul, get in the one-and-one and hope they miss. So, I think a shot clock has to be with it.”

Schweitzer isn’t sure, yet, if the rules changes will lead to more or less free throws.

“Tonight I will tell you way more,” he said after the victory against Park Hill South. “But if you would have asked me after our jamboree, I would have said less. We'll have to wait and see.”

The new rules didn’t have any impact on Nixa’s season-opener, what with the Eagles whipping Bolivar by 30 points. Thus, coach Brock Blansit is in wait-and-see mode regarding the rules changes.

‘I don't have any opinion, yet,” Blansit said. “It is different to see you have four fouls in a quarter and knowing (the opponent is) shooting two free throws the rest of the way. It's something we're all going to have to adjust to.”

Spokane’s first two games gave Owls coach Newt Starrett the impression the new rules will lead to less free throws.

“We were right at the five-mark at the end of the first quarter," Starrett after said Spokane’s second game, a home victory versus Hollister. “But you can have four more fouls (in the next quarter) and no free throws and there weren't many fouls in the second quarter.

"The biggest change is having two free throws and no more one-and-one,” he added. “The players will have to get used to it and we will all get used to it. We'll see how it plays out the rest of the year.”

Indeed, it will take a bit for everyone to become accustomed to the new rules. Most of us have always associated seven fouls with the bonus and 10 fouls with the double-bonus.

Adding to confusion early on will be the fact the NCAA’s rules on bonus and double bonus-free throws have not changed.

NCAA women’s basketball has followed the five-foul limit per quarter since the 2015-16 season.

Who knows or cares what the NBA does in between its myriad of 3-point shots.

Clever coach Sean Price had to remind himself of the rules changes during the Jays’ victory against RUSH at this week's Clever Invite.

“They had five fouls in the third quarter and I was thinking, ‘We’re going to be in the bonus (for most of) the fourth quarter,'” Price said. “But then I remembered the new rule.”

It’s worth noting the NFHS stated it was motivated to eliminate one-and-one opportunities based on its data that injuries were occurring as a result of rough play during battles for a rebound following a missed free throw.

Looking ahead, Blansit thinks it will be interesting to hear viewpoints on the new rules once everyone has played a handful of games.

“I've heard mixed reports. Some (coaches) love it, some aren't sure,” he said. “I’m in the unsure category. Until we get five or so games in, then I'll have more of an opinion.”