Player lying on the floor.

Had a big disagreement with my partners (all five of them!) before today’s game.  Wondering what y’all think about this situation.  It happened once last year, and I really felt like I have it right…but let’s see what y’all think (and if you have rule/casebook plays to back you, ’cause I can’t find any).

It all started with this question in this month’s Referee Magazine:

A1 and B2 go for a rebound.  In the attempt to garner the ball, B2 falls to the floor behind A1’s legs.  A1 grabs the ball while upright, then trips over teh fallen B2 while holding the ball.  A1 then lands on the court while holding the ball.  Is that a traveling violation by A1 or is it a blocking foul on B2?  RULING:  B2 is considered to have established legal guarding position  even though being prone on the floor.  Unless B2 makes an effort to trip or block A1, it’s simply a seemingly unfair (and probably very unpopular) traveling violation on A1 for falling to the floor while holding the ball (NFHS 4-44).

OK.  4-44 is the travel rule, so that’s not a helpful reference.  And I don’t see how the Legal Guarding Position applies here at all on this rebound.  When one looks at the LGP rule in 4-23, the player here did NOT gain LGP.

However, in this thread http://forum.officiating.com/basketball/59941-player-laying-floor.html , (which MassRef called my attention to last year), some officials suggest that legal guarding position only applies to whether the player is allowed to move backward or obliquely.  This player didn’t move.  Case in point:  if a player is standing with his back to a ballhandler, and remained stationery, could the ballhandler run up their back and crash into them?  No.  That’s a foul on the offense even in the absence of LGP.  If a ballhandler pivoted and tripped over the stationery player with his back to him (not LGP) and fell to the floor, would we call them for a block?  Nope.  That’s a stone-cold travel.

So why is a player on the floor any different?

I don’t know the answer to this question, and neither the rulebook nor the casebook is helpful.  But I’m bothered that the Referee Magazine question says the player gained LGP, when the rulebook clearly says this isn’t the case.

What’s your take?

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About Paul Hamann
I am a basketball referee in Washington State, working mostly high school games.

4 Responses to Player lying on the floor.

  1. Tudor says:

    My take would be, no travel because it’s not illegal to fall to the ground with the ball. You can even slide just as long as you dont roll or try to get up. Also, I wouldn’t call a foul if he just trips over the fallen player, though I can understand your point with legal guarding position.
    So I’d leave it at no call, and see what happens next. Most likely a jump ball.

  2. Paul Hamann says:

    Bas–It is absolutely illegal to fall to the ground with the ball. I’m not sure where it is in FIBA, so I won’t cite a rule here, but it’s a stone-cold travel.

  3. cbursian says:

    I would be inclined to call the travel, personally. I don’t see how B2 could have been considered to ever have gained legal guarding position on this one, or how any sort of foul could be called. No one is trying to gain an advantage here by falling on the floor. So, according to 4-44-5a, “A player holding the ball: May not touch the floor with a knee or any other part of the body other than hand or foot.” I know that the coach for A would probably be screaming that it’s a foul, but to me, the rules would indicate that this is a travel.

  4. MassRef says:

    The ruling on this play is actually different in NFHS and NCAA rules. In NFHS, the general philosophy is that a player is entitled to any position on the playing court, provided s/he got there legally. Since the player who has fallen to the floor, didn’t cause illegal contact to get there, that player is entitled to the space on the floor. As long as s/he doesn’t extend a body part to cause contact with A1, there is no foul. Therefore, when A1 falls to the floor, A1 has committed a traveling violation.

    Unfortunately, I can’t find the case play that gives that ruling. It may have been issued through the NFHS website, and not published in the book. I’ll go back through the old interps and see if I can find it.

    In NCAA, the player on the floor is considered NOT to have a legal position, so when A1 trips, it’s a blocking foul.

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