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Local high school basketball coaches react to new foul count rule change

After an announcement on Monday, the MHSAA is adopting a proposed rule change by the National Federation of State High School Associations regarding basketball foul count and eligibility for the “bonus.”

Instead of the foul counts being totaled for each half, foul counts will now reset after each quarter. This will change the bonus count towards opponent’s earning free throw chances, which now will become five fouls in a quarter rather than the previous rule of seven in a half.

Along with the overall number changing, Rule 4-8-1 will be amended to remove the single bonus “one- and-one” free throw in favor of only the “two-shot” double bonus once a team reaches five fouls in a quarter.

“This rule aligns with what they do in the NBA and women's collegiate basketball and is designed to improve game flow,” Big Rapids boys basketball coach Blake Thomas said. “I think this will ultimately benefit the future of the game.”

Many local coaches don’t feel too strongly one way or the other about the change but they all agreed on one thing: it will certainly affect the game’s flow.

“I'm hoping this creates more flow in the game, especially in girls’ basketball,” Reed City girls’ basketball head coach Tim Beilfuss said. “I think (the old rule) has slowed some games down and stopped flow in the action. I like that we are not punishing a team for having a team that had a bad quarter and rolling it into the next quarter.”

Due to the change, many teams may consider changing their strategy towards addressing high foul counts. When asked about this idea, Reed City boy’s head coach Brennan Walsh said this could lead to teams being more aggressive.

“Defensively in the first and third quarters, you don't have to worry about carrying over your team fouls to the next quarter. This could lead to teams playing more aggressive early (in the game).”

According to the official NFHS release, the rule change will be enacted during the upcoming 2023-2024 season.

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