My basketball pet peeve of the day: FIBA’s no-charge semi-circle. Per FIBA rules (33.10), if an airborne player who originates outside the no-charge semi-circle (NCSC) area contacts a defender who is in contact with the NCSC, we cannot have an offensive foul. So far, so good!
But then the fun begins. Even though the defender is in contact with the NCSC and there may be a huge collision, a defensive foul is not automatic. According to
FIBA interpretations (Statement 33-1), “the no-charge semi-circle rule criteria shall not be applied and any contact shall be judged according to normal regulations, e. g. cylinder principle, charge/block principle”. So we get this:
This is a play from a recent Eurobasket Women 2019 semifinal game. France’s Marine Johanes (#17 white) contacts Great Britain’s Cheridene Green (#25 blue), who has established a legal guarding position, though inside the NCSC. The referee correctly – at least by FIBA rule and interpretations – makes a no-call.
What’s the philosophy behind the rule?
The purpose of the NCSC (Restricted Area or Restricted Area Arc in the NBA and NCAA, respectively) is to prevent secondary defenders from taking a position under the basket in an attempt to draw an offensive foul while a player is driving to the basket.
Therefore, by definition, the defender in this situation should be considered not to be in legal guarding position and it should supersede the consideration of whether or not the player meets the standards of cylinder or charge/block. Also, the rules should not allow collisions of this nature without penalty. NBA and NCAA rules recognize all of this – and this is also one of the few instances where the Euroleague has decided to deviate from FIBA rules.
NBA/NCAA L2M review
The NBA and NCAA have also added a few twists to the rule that don’t exist in the FIBA rulebook. Most notably, their rules allow for a review in the last 2 minutes (L2M) to establish if the defender is inside or outside the Restricted Area. The most famous example of this type of review was in the last minute of Game 1 of the 2018 NBA finals. With Cleveland leading Golden State 104-102, Kevin Durant was called for an offensive foul – and after review the call was changed to a block against Lebron James.
Personally, I thought this was the wrong call, but more importantly, we repeatedly emphasize that in order to change a call on review, you must have “clear and conclusive
visual evidence” – hardly the case here.
Here’s another example of a (correctly) overturned L2M call from an NCAA game between archrivals California (Berkeley) and Stanford.
It should be noted, of course, that the NCSC does not apply if the secondary defender jumps in an attempt to block the shot; and, of course, if the offensive player leads with a leg or knee in an unnatural motion or uses the off arm to prevent the defender from blocking the shot.
The NBA and NCAA also include in their rules a consideration of whether or not the drive to the basket started within or outside the Lower Defensive Box (a court concept that does not exist in FIBA), but we’ll save that for another day. I just don’t like the FIBA rule where a big collision occurs and by rule, it must be a no-call.