Although John Calipari had said recently that he hoped his team would look bad on an upcoming exhibition tour, the University of Kentucky took steps to lessen the chances of that.
When asked by UK, the Canadians agreed that no players will foul out of any game. The Cats figure to be shorthanded if, as expected, Enes Kanter and Eloy Vargas are not eligible to play. And who knows how many fouls might be committed by freshman-oriented UK?
The hosts also agreed to Kentucky's wish to play by NCAA rules, not the literally foreign FIBA rules used by Canadian colleges.
"Certainly, we were more than willing to do that," said University of Windsor Coach Chris Oliver, who noted that his team plays by NCAA rules when it plays a few games each season on U.S. soil.
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Plus, high school players in the Canadian province of Ontario play by the same rules as U.S. high schools. "We're used to playing NCAA rules anyway," Oliver said.
Geoff Astles, one of eight Ontario-based referees assigned to work UK's games in Windsor Sunday through Tuesday, said Wednesday that he got word from the University of Windsor about UK's request that no players foul out in the games.
"You'd hate to see a young kid playing his first collegiate game, he picks up two quick fouls and has to sit out most of a half," Astles said.
When asked how game officials will handle a situation where a player received a fifth or sixth or however many fouls, Astles said those details had yet to be decided.
Apparently also left unresolved is a request for unlimited timeouts.
No fouling out could also help Windsor, which plays Kentucky on Sunday and Tuesday.
"We have some eligibility issues," Oliver said. Windsor has two transfers who will not be eligible: Terrell Campbell from Lakeland Community College in Alberta and Troy Barnes from Red Deer Community College in Alberta. Plus returning guard Enrico Di Loreto recently underwent ankle surgery and will not play.
The decision to play by NCAA rather than FIBA rules will spare Kentucky the burden of having to adjust to a different style of game. For instance, Windsor normally plays with a 24-second shot clock rather than the 35-second clock used by U.S. colleges.
Under FIBA rules, there is no five-second call if a closely guarded player keeps his dribble alive.
Other differences include the inability of players to call timeouts under FIBA rules and, most strikingly, how FIBA permits defensive players to touch the ball after it comes off the rim.
Evan Matthews, a freshman for Windsor, suggested that the different rules can make a big difference.
"I think if FIBA rules, it might change the outcome of the game because of the differences," he said.
In particular, Matthews cited the difference in goal tending. "It's not a skill," he said of FIBA rules permitting the swatting away of shots once the ball comes off the rim. "It's like thought process. I know a few times I jumped up and the ball would be there and I'd let it go because I'm not used to touching it. I know U.S. players don't have any problem getting up that high. It's the thought of taking it off the rim they won't have."
Oliver downplayed the difference NCAA rules will make on his players. "I don't think at the end of the day, it'll affect how we play," he said.
The eight referees assigned to the exhibitions are members of the Ontario University Association West Division. It will be a mix of up-and-coming refs and veteran officials like Astles, who worked the FIBA Americas Tournament for Under 18 players in San Antonio earlier this summer.
"Quality is similar to anywhere," Oliver said of the referees. "Depending on what your opinion is, it's going to be good or bad. They'll do their best."
Two of the referees assigned to Tuesday's UK-Windsor game are Windsor graduates: Kevin Greenwood and Astles.
"That's never an issue for me," Astles said. "I'm 40 now. I played there 20 years ago."
Astles said that earlier in his officiating career he was in a no-win situation working Windsor games. Calls either way could be perceived as biased.
He's beyond that now.
"I referee blue and white," he said. "I referee gold and silver. I don't referee Windsor and Kentucky. I referee the shirts, not the names on the shirts."