Corletto slams NBL’s soft ‘netball’ rules

Veteran Breakers guard Daryl Corletto is no fan of the NBL’s new refereeing interpretations, fearing they risk turning the game into netball and labelling them a backlash to last year’s rugged finals series.
Nanjing Night Net

But Corletto is also smart enough to understand that the Breakers have no choice but to make the necessary adjustments, even if the league does appear to be blunting one of the key attributes of the three-time champions from Auckland.

There have been no rule changes as such, but this season referees have been told to take a stricter stance on physical defending. The hope is that by freeing up offensive players the game will become higher scoring and more free-flowing.

But the new interpretations have met near total disapproval around the league, with a predictable adjustment period playing out where games are becoming dominated by fouls and free-throws.

The Breakers have headed the queue of teams struggling to adjust to the new interpretations as they’ve lost all four pre-season games and been mired in foul trouble throughout.

“It’s a massive change,” Corletto said yesterday.

“You’re basically not allowed to put any hands on an offensive player when they get the ball, and without the ball you’re only allowed to put one arm-bar on.

“It makes it difficult to fight through screens and put pressure on the ball, and it’s tough for the big guys in the post, because as soon as someone gets it and turns and faces you’re allowed no contact whatsoever.”

The NBL says it wants to make games more fan-friendly, higher scoring and in line with the international style. It has long been renowned as one of the more physical competitions.

But Corletto, into his 13th NBL season, has his theories.

“It’s been made I think because of the physical nature of last year’s finals series. But they’ve gone to another extreme where it’s basically netball.”

Corletto understands the intent, which is to generate more layups, dunks and open looks for gifted offensive players, but said for now that was not the end result.

“Games are going for nearly three hours and with 50, 60 or 70 free-throws taken. I’ve got a lot of friends who are basketball fans, and they’re telling me it’s not exciting.”

Corletto is hoping for a compromise, with referees softening their stance a little and players dialling back their physical defending.

“There’s got to be some physicality,” he said. “That’s one of the strengths of us and Perth over the last couple of years, and opposition teams have been drilled for the past few months on how to compete with that.

“Now that physical nature is being taken away. It’s an adjustment period and something we all need to get used to. It’s going to change the style, and we’ll see a lot of teams play zone defence because they don’t want to get guys in foul trouble.”

Small forward Tom Abercrombie said it was up to the Breakers to play smarter.

“We’ve been pretty stubborn so far and failed to adjust as much as other teams,” he said.

“It’s pretty hard to get any momentum when you’re stopping the game and giving the other team free-throws every possession. We need to make changes in the way we’re playing defence, and it’s things you feel like you’ve done your whole career.”

The Tall Black said there was a fine line between maintaining a defensive identity and being practical.

“We’ve always been a physical, aggressive team, and we still want to play that way. But we’ve just got to play a little smarter and know what times we can do that and when we’ve got to back it off a little bit.”

The Breakers continue their pre-season preparations with a three-game series against China’s Dongguan Leopards in New Plymouth on Sunday, Hamilton next Tuesday and Auckland two days later.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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