Taking A Charge Is Just The WorstS

With 20 seconds left and Syracuse down two, Brandon Triche drove the lane and dropped off a sort of wild layup as Jordan Morgan slid underneath him. Triche was called for an offensive foul and Michigan got the ball back and eventually won the game. It did not decide the game so much as make a Michigan win inevitable. But, man, is it annoying that it didn't go the other way.

Art. 10. When a dribbler has obtained a straight-line path, the dribbler may not be bumped, pushed or otherwise crowded out of that path. When an opponent is able to legally obtain a guarding position in that path, the dribbler shall avoid contact by changing direction or ending the dribble.

Whether it was an offensive foul or not is irrelevant. It was called a foul because it is a foul that can be called. Look, the offensive foul isn't going anywhere, but the way it's called and coached sometimes makes an athletic endeavor more closely resemble a chess match.

Watching a team execute a game plan, or certain coaches' offensive and defensive philosophies is just as entertaining, don't be mistaken, but you want to see it within the scope of actual, physical competition. With most charges, though, the competition isn't I'm going to block your shot, it's I'm going to prevent you from scoring.

There are exponentially more, and easier, options available to a defender who wants to prevent a shot rather than block it. So instead of playing actual defense on a player driving to the basket—hand in the face, attempt on the ball, etc.—he just gets in the way. It's gotcha athleticism. It's Wile E. Coyote catching the Roadrunner with a tunnel painted on some rocks.

There's no easy answer, especially since the taking of a charge has become the conduit for all those looking to cram grit into a basketball game. It's a move lauded as smart, even though all it requires is knowledge of the basic rules of basketball. The charge-taker is "sacrificing his body" because he lets himself fall down when touched. We should find a way to reward good defense, or at the very least not penalize it. Otherwise taking the charge becomes the only safe option.

No one wants to see scorers just run up and down the court unencumbered. Think about how boring DeAndre Jordan's dunk over Brandon Knight would have been if Knight just tried to take a charge, or just got out of his way. It was a ridiculous moment because it was pure competition. I'm going to score. No, you're not. Yes. I am.

The charge called on Brandon Triche did not decide the game, it was still a one-possession game when Syracuse got the ball back with 18 seconds left. The Syracuse loss had more to do with James Southerland and Michael Carter-Williams accounting for 63 minutes played and 7 points combined and Michigan finding a way through the Syracuse zone. But the charge, rather than a dunk or big three-point shot, became the moment of the game and that is the worst.