Last night, Rick Jackson and Vincent Council collided on the basketball court. That is cut and dry. There's no doubt that Jackson's elbow made contact with Council's face. Predictably, Jackson's elbow won that battle.
While there is no "point of emphasis" this year, the NCAA did change the way elbows would be called in an attempt to make the game safer. Basically, the NCAA doesn't want anymore of this.
That's perfectly understandable.
The wonderful Seth Davis did the leg work about three weeks ago to track down what the new rule is and explained it easily, but thoroughly.
First, let's break down what happened. You can view the incident here. Fast-forward to the 18 second mark for the incident.
The play begins with Rick Jackson grabbing a rebound. Nothing out of the ordinary there considering he does it a dozen times per game.
What Jackson does next is where the trouble begins. He establishes a pivot foot and begins to clear space with his elbows AS he pivots. When Jackson stops swinging his elbows, Council runs straight into Jackson's stationary elbow.
So now let's examine how this play fits into the rule book. Jackson's initial elbow swinging doesn't actually hit anything. So according to Seth Davis:
Did he swing his elbow as part of a "basketball play," or was the move "excessive?"
The rule book describes "excessive" as "moving the elbows faster than the torso."
Does Jackson swing his elbows excessive? It doesn't look like it. The elbows are moving as he pivots and rotates his torso. Therefore:
If the elbow swing was not excessive and there was no contact: No call is made. Play on.
The contact comes after Jackson stops swinging his elbows. Vincent Council simply runs into him as Jackson has his elbows up. That's not a foul in any referee's rule book. The refs clearly viewed it differently as they decided the contact came as a result of Jackson still swinging his elbow. Since that's the way they viewed it, here's the rule on that:
If the elbow hit the player above the shoulders: Was it a basketball play, or was it excessive?
If it was a basketball play, and the elbow hit the player above the shoulders, it is an intentional foul. The opposing team gets two foul shots and the ball, but the offending player is not ejected.
Again, the elbows weren't excessive as explained above. Thus, Jackson received the technical foul and wasn't ejected.
With the way the referees viewed the contact, they got the interpretation of the rule correct.
Problem was, they didn't view the contact correctly. Council wasn't looking where he was going, ran into Jackson, and saved his butt with a terrific flop.
In the end, Jim Boeheim, who was standing 60 feet away saw that Council ran into Jackson's elbow while three officials surrounding the play couldn't see that.