Sunday, December 3, 2017

Varsity Blues

Couldn't think of any better title for the blog tonight.  It doesn't mean anything besides the fact that I officiated a couple of varsity boys basketball games today for a tournament (7th / 8th place & 5th / 6th place games).

This will be brief as it's late.  The games I worked were not the best games ever played.  All the teams had their share of weaknesses and they were not the most skilled, athletic or talented.  But they all played hard and my partner and I had to work the games appropriately.

The interesting situations that came up today were enforcing the coaching box.  My partner gave a warning to one of the coaches in the second game.  Later on the same coach approached me (outside of his box) to ask or inquire about something.  Post game, my partner thought I should have given the coach a technical for being out of the box.  I understood my partner's rationale but since the coach wasn't super vocal, I "let it slide".  That is an interesting situation i have to think about though.

Otherwise, the games were fun to work.  My partner is good and even though I was the designated "R", he pretty much dictated things.  It's something I have to work on as sometimes I am not 100% sure what to say to someone who is a top official.  It's a known weakness for me.

In any case, I may write more about my games later but this is enough for now.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Bringing Focus And Intensity To Your Games

If you talk to a lot of high level, veteran high school basketball officials, they always say that you have to treat every game equally.  It doesn't matter if you're working a game between two top teams at the varsity level or two weaker teams at the freshman level, you should come into the games with the mental attitude that you're going to treat the games the same.

Have I done this?  I'd like to say I have in the past.  But tonight I could sense that something has changed in me in the past 6 months to a year when it comes to officiating.

I had a triple header today.  I was working a JV girls preseason game at 4 PM followed by two JV boys tournament games at a different gym at 6:30 PM and 8 PM.

I got to the gym early for the girls game and my partner was there as well.  We caught up and observed the two teams as they warmed up and practiced.  I could see the girls weren't that experienced or skilled.  I told my partner this could be a low scoring game and i was proven correct  The final score was 11-10.

Early on, I was flying around the gym just because I'm in shape from playing and officiating hoops the past few weeks.   But it wasn't needed.  Neither team could really get up and down the court particularly fast.  When they did, the girls weren't really finishing.  I had to dial things down a bit and I admittedly cruised through the game a bit.  The game finished in about an hour.   There wasn't a lot of learning going on in this game besides one call in which two players (one from each team) tied the ball as just the shot clock expired.  This doesn't happened regularly but my partner said he though a shot clock violation on the offensive team would be the right call and I agreed after thinking about it.

After the girls game, I went over to the other gym for the two boys games.  I was working with a semi new partner (only 2nd year officiating high school basketball).  Both games were in the championship bracket of the tournament so the intensity level was high.  Both games ended up being closely contested affairs would a lot of action and drama.

These two games taught me a few things.  Something in me has changed.  I saw some physical and silly plays from a the post players which I called out right away and told the players to knock it off.  I ended up two technical fouls.  One was to a player who obviously hacked a guy yet moaned about it and slammed the basketball after I called the foul.  The other was to a coach (second game) who wouldn't stop complaining about travels.  I probably could have issued a warning but just the technical instead.

I commented on FB a few minutes ago that my voice was hoarse when I called my earlier.  That is a rare thing for me.  I remember some old observers / evaluators telling me to "use my voice" back in the day.  Well, I guess I took their advice a few years later!

Been a long day and it's late.  Need to get some sleep and get ready for two varsity boys games tomorrow.  That should be an interesting affair.   If anything interesting comes up, I will be posting about it.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Not Bad For A Preseason Game

I had a double header today.  In a odd bit of scheduling, it was a girls varsity basketball game first followed for a frosh / soph boys basketball game.

The girls game was delayed by some 30 minutes due to some scheduling and administrative snafus.  But things were settled and the game proceeded.  Alas, it wasn't much of a game.  The visiting team, which only was carrying six players, blew out the home team easily.  I've seen the visiting team before.  Most of the players have played varsity since they were freshman and looked to be the savvy veterans while the home team seemed very young and inexperienced.

Thanks to the blowout in the first game, the boys game only started about 10 minutes behind it's scheduled time.  The visiting team was a little deeper and a little more talented but the home team probably had the best player overall.  The visiting team led most of the way and had to withstand a late run by the home team and won by about 8.

From an officiating perspective, there wasn't a lot to write home about with the girls game.  My partner and I called our share of fouls but as the visiting team piled on the points, everything just turned into game management.  While the visiting team did ultimately win by over 40 points, they spent most of the second half walking the ball up and working on their half court offense.

On the other hand, the boys game had a little bit of everything:

  1. The home team struggled defensively.  They just couldn't keep their hands off the visiting team.  That resulted in a ton of hand checking fouls.  Fans booked one of my calls when the player placed his hand on the offensive player and never took it off.
  2. High school players maybe watch a little too much of the NBA.  After a made basket by the home team, one of the players grabbed the basketball and bounced it to the wall.  My partner called a delay of game warning (the right call).  Later on in the game, another home team player (can't remember if it was the same player) once again grabbed the basketball after a made basket and slapped it to the wall.  Given the game was super close, I was tempted to NOT call a technical foul.  Alas, the visiting team players were aware of the warning issued and I decided to call the technical to the confusion of the fans.
  3. One new thing this year in high school basketball is there is a "warning" can be issued to a coach who may be acting out but not to the extent that a technical is necessary.  In the past, warnings were casual and very informal.  This year, the high school rules gave referees the ability to issue a warning to the coach and note the time / quarter this warning was issues in the scorebook.  I did my first warning during the boys game.  My partner made a correct foul call but the home team coach was furious and jumping on the sidelines.  Now, he didn't completely berate my partner.  The coach was just a tad emotional.  After my partner reported the foul, I told the coach that he couldn't act out the way he did on the sideline.  I issued the warning.  The rest of the game was handled without incident.
  4. There were a few free throw violations called toward the end of the game.  I even called an offensive player for faking to cause the defender to violate.  I froze for one second as I wasn't exactly how to call it.  I finally just said "free throw violation on white" and moved on.  LOL 

Despite the game being frosh / soph, there were a good number of fans and it made for a very lively pre-season game.   It's these kind of games that made officiating fun.  Unfortunately, not every game will be this competitive.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Looking Ahead To The 2017-2018 Officiating Season

I'm back!  At least for today.  It's a raining day in the Bay Area and I'm watching some NFL game before going out for a bit.  I hadn't look at my blogs in a while.  However Google had sent a note that some of email accounts were going to expire if I didn't log in so I started looking into things again.

It's been a year or so since I posted and several years since I commented on things.  Since I am here,  I might as well update people on things I've been working on personally and what I am looking forward to as the 2017-2018 high school basketball season is kicking into full swing.

If you look through my blog from around 2011-2012 time frame, you may have seen that I curtailed my officiating for a time due to personal life issues.  I admittedly almost LEFT high school officiating.  Thanks to someone in my group, I decided to stick around.

But one thing the person instilled in me was that if I stuck around, I needed to take the attitude of "constant improvement" versus just being satisfied with where I was.

With that attitude in mind, several things I have been working on:

  1. A more confident and vocal persona on the floor as an official.  I used to think was a good official just because I could blow the whistle.  However, I realized that I wasn't as confident in my calls INTERNALLY as I could have been.   Confidence means working on getting better angles but also being able to explain calls to players / coaches.  They may not agree with what you see, but if you can explain it, you're much better off. 
  2. Using both my left and right arms to signal foul calls.  Since I'm been officiating, I've always used my left arm for foul calls.  I noticed some officials used both arms.  It's taken a couple of years of focusing on this aspect, but it's pretty much natural for me to use both arms when calling fouls depending on the part of the floor I am on. 

As the 2017-2018 season kicks off, I look forward to just being on the floor and working on my game.  As part of constantly improving, I look to just work on little things no matter what level the game is.   I will make an effort to talk about anything I learned on this blog as I did before or maybe through my podcast.

See you all soon!