Thursday, July 26, 2012

Two Things You Should Not Do In A Basketball Game

This past Monday evening, I wrapped up PLAYING in one of my summer basketball leagues.  With only five players, my team (White) raced out to a 25 point halftime lead and hung on for a 60-50 victory over the Gold team.  We finished with a 3-4 record which could have been better if a few bounces had gone our way in the previous two games.

The next evening, I flipped hats and officiated a few games for the same league.  I worked with a friend who briefly officiated high school basketball for a couple of years but stopped.  We started off with two women's first round playoff games.  Both games went uneventfully except for a technical to one of the women for swearing (this is a christian church league).

The final game of the night was an interesting one.  It was not a playoff game but just an exhibition game between the Blue and White teams.  The Blue team played in the summer league's "A" Division.  The White team was a traveling tournament team that was sponsored by the league itself.  The White team had spent the summer playing exhibition games against different teams throughout the league.

The Blue team was bunch of young college aged guys.  They had finished second in the league and are preparing to play in their semi-final playoff Friday evening.  The White team had some youth but also some veterans from years past.  Blue was looking to earn some respect but White was looking to show they could hang with the young guns.

The game was close throughout but White's experience proved to be the difference as they won by 7 or so.

It was also a bit of a learning experience for Blue as there were a couple of things that happened that hurt them:

A Blue player nailed a contested three pointer early in the second half.  As the Blue player (and I) ran back the other way,  I saw the Blue player turn around and point his finger at the White defender and shake his head.  I immediately blew the whistle and issued a technical for unsportsmanlike conduct / taunting.

Late in the game, White had pulled away to 3 to 5 point lead.  Blue was trying to play pressure defense and get some steals.  White broke down the defense and went in for a layup.  A Blue player (different from #1 above) went to contest the shot at the rim.  Alas, it was to no avail.  The White player got the shot off and the basket was going in.  The Blue player, who was still in the air from contesting the shot, grabbed the rim all of a sudden.

I immediately blew the whistle.  I counted the basket and also handed out a technical to the Blue player for grabbing the rim.

In analyzing the situations, the first technical was fine.  However, the second technical was a little questionable.  My partner and the player said he was trying to protect himself (at least a little bit).

From my perspective, I had closed in on the play and my focus was strictly at the rim.  I felt the player had grabbed the rim unnecessarily.  I wish there was a tape of the game so I could review.

But regardless of whether I was correct or not, the game was interesting and I learned a few things.  The taunting was an obvious ons and I did what was needed.  The second situation was slightly different.  I called the technical and according to the rule book, I was RIGHT in calling in (if the player just grabbed the rim in frustration).  So even though I didn't really remember the rule, I did the right thing (at least based on the information I had on hand).

All in all, it was a fun game to officiate.  There were some things to deal with afterward (some heated things as I knew people on both teams) but those were taken care of.  Tomorrow, I get to work with some fellow high school officials on more league playoff games.  That should be fun!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Summer League / Tournament Time

Around 2nd second week of April, I formally inquired with my high school officiating association when I needed to inform the group if I wanted to return for the 2012-2013 season.   I was told before the end of April.  After taking a few weeks, I formally requested to be reinstated for the 2012-2013 season.  After paying some dues, I was back in action.

I officiated in some youth tournaments and a couple of high summer basketball tournaments in mid June.   While the youth tournaments and the high school summer tournament was relatively competitive, the tournament I officiated on this past Sunday was definitely a big step up.

Unlike the previous high school tournament, the teams participating were playing most of their varsity squads.  In an odd twist, my partner and I were informed that player fouls were to be COUNTED officially (most summer tournaments don't really do this).   My understanding was the tournament hadn't done this most of the weekend and even the coaches were surprised.  This made for some intense basketball as all three games I worked were nail biters (3 point game, 2 point game and 1 point game).

My partner was a veteran official who works in my association and so I talked to him quite a bit.  We double whistled a few times and one time he disagreed with my call of a player control foul.   I also got a coach in the first game annoyed (and on our cases throughout) with my foul call and reporting of the wrong player number.  I fully admit to missing the player number.  However, this was due to the fact that the players were wearing summer league uniforms with only numbers in the back.   It was not a good way to start the game but I felt we did fine overall during the game.

That was one of my biggest take aways from officiating on Sunday.  In the past, I would have been a little wound up or bothered with the coach on my case.  I listened to his complaints, addressed it and keep on officiating.  I did it for all three games.  The coaches may not have liked every call (or no call) but they had to accept it.

All in all, I felt my confidence in officiating has jumped up a bit.  The question is why?  The answer is actually pretty easy.  As an official, if you are making the effort to be in position to see the majority of the plays in a game, you will be in position to explain a call (or non-call ) to a coach who disagrees.

I can't emphasize how important it is to talk to coaches.  It was NEVER my favorite activity in years past.  But in my regular job as a Sales Engineer, I talk to Sales people at work all day and to potential customers.   As a Sales Engineer, I get a ton of technical objections from potential customers.  I have to know my products to overcome these objections.  The same principal applies to officiating.  You have to know the rules but also see the plays to tell the coaches what you saw.  They may not like it but they will have to accept it.

Overall, I felt super comfortable officiating three high level boys varsity summer tournament games.   I felt good considering I had not worked anything remotely close to this level since the 2010-2011 high school season.   Maybe the time off helped!  All in all,  it was a fun Sunday and looking forward to working other games in the future.