Let's get less physical. That was the aim of new NCAA basketball rules this season. But you can't legislate against the broad shoulders and bulk power Cameron Bairstow displayed as he seemed to fill up a hallway just walking Thursday into the locker room area at the Scottrade Center. When Bairstow enrolled at the University of New Mexico as a freshman he was 6-9 and about 210 pounds. Now a senior with a rep for grinding it out in the weight room (even after home games), he is listed at 6-9, 250 going into the seventh-seeded Lobos' game here Friday against No. 10 Stanford in the South. "He is one of the best big men we have seen all year," said Stanford Coach Johnny Dawkins. "Not only is he a very physical low-post player, but a very capable shooter on the perimeter from 15 to 17 feet as well. ... And like I said, very physical player." Going into this season, the NCAA categorized toughened its rules on fouls, including: when a defender keeps a hand or forearm on a foe, two hands on an opponent, continual jabs with the hands or forearm and use of arms bars to impede progress. Bairstow, a forward from Brisbane, Australia, says it has made defense less physical, both for inside defenders accustomed to using the forearm and especially for guards on the outside who were used to hand checking. "But I think you can take advantage of it on the offense end," Bairstow said. " I think we did struggle a lot to begin the year with that stuff, trying to stay out of foul trouble. But as the year went along, you learned how it was getting called. … As long as you stay away from it on the defensive end, you can take advantage of it on the offensive end." As a junior, Bairstow averaged 9.7 points a game. This season, he is averaging 20.3. How much has his physicality factored into that increase in scoring? "I think that's a lot of what I try to do in terms of playing physical, getting to the foul line," said Bairstow. " (I'm) not the most athletic guy, so I have to try to make it a more physical contest.'' First-year Lobos Coach Craig Neal said Bairstow has amplified his physicality with his work habits. "Spent a lot of time in the weight room," Neal said. "Could barely dunk a basketball when he got here, and now he can put his head on the rim. … He's a very physical player.''
Cameron Bairstow uses physicality to power New Mexico
USA Today | Mar 21