Are the New Zealand Breakers getting treated differently by the referees away from home in the Australian National Basketball League?

Head coach Paul Henare seems to think so, giving a frank assessment following the Breakers' 95-92 defeat to the Adelaide 36ers last night.

"For whatever reason when we play on the road we get called for 25-30 fouls," Henare said.

"Either we're a completely different team on the road or there's inconsistencies with the way the game's being called.


"Do they change the way the game is called at home?

"I'm puzzled only because we've never been in that sort of foul trouble at home."

Read more: Paul Henare blasts referees over foul count

Henare perhaps has recency bias on his first point - while three of the Breakers' last four away games have seen between 25 and 30 fouls called on the Breakers, the year before it only happened four times on all their road trips.

However, he is correct that there has been an imbalance with the foul count.

So far this season, the Breakers have been called for 19.8 fouls per game at home, and 23.9 on the road. That is significantly higher than the rates of their opposition, at just 15.5 and 17.7 respectively.

Overall, that is 306 fouls called on the Breakers, to just 235 on their opponents - and over three extra fouls called per game when playing in Australia.

While that is a noticeable difference, the half-season sample is not enough to draw definitive conclusions. A clearer picture required anaylsis of over 200 games since the 2011-2012 season to look for any longterm patterns with the Breakers' foul count.

Here are the overall findings:

* In home games, the Breakers were whistled for 21.4 fouls per game, with their opponents called for 20.3 fouls per game.

* In away games, the Breakers were called for 22.9 fouls per game, with their opponents getting pinged for 19.6 fouls per game.

The fact that the Breakers have a higher foul discrepancy away from home is not a surprise - with most teams (in all sports) getting the benefit of the whistle in front of their home crowd.

However, that makes their home stats more curious, with the Breakers being called for more fouls than their opposition when playing at home - though not by a margin that is overwhelmingly telling.

Any accusations of anti-Breakers bias can be swiftly swatted away by pointing to the Breakers' four ANBL titles, while several variables, such as aggressive defensive schemes, or foul-prone long-time Breakers stalwarts, could explain the imbalance.

So while there is unlikely to be nefarious intent in the figures, the Breakers will be hoping that the foul count balances out as they try to consolidate their ANBL title credentials during the second half of the season.

Foul Counts in Breakers Home Games

Foul Counts in Breakers Away Games