In two different WNBA games this week, I saw breakaways thwarted due to incidental fouls occurring that had nothing to do with the run of play. It made me think that instituting something like soccer’s delayed penalty might be a good idea to stop this new strategy of preventing a breakaway score–without incurring a breakaway foul–from becoming common.
What I propose: When a fast-break is in progress, if an incidental foul occurs, the referee will raise eir arm but not blow the whistle. This indicates to the scorer’s table that a foul has been noted, but the lack of whistle means that the play is still in-progress. The whistle is blown when the initial shot is made, missed, a shooting foul occurs, the ball goes out of play, or there is a change of possession. If the shot was made, then the foul is tallied and one foul shot is awarded. If the shot was missed and there were no other fouls, then the appropriate action based on team fouls is followed.
It’s really a small change, but one that corrects what could be a nascent trend to prevent a breakaway score without risking the consequences.