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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Fouls- Refs

As many of you have noticed, the NCAA has decided they want to make college basketball more of a finesse game. To do this college officials have been instructed to call any hand checks on a ball handler, any bumping cutters, or any over physical post defense.

As you watch games, it is apparent there are many more foul calls. The other night I watched a game in which on 7 straight possessions at each end of the floor a foul was called and free throws were shot. I replayed the game and found those 7 possessions involved 2:07 of actual game time. In terms of actual minutes, these 7 possessions took 11:14 to complete, and involved 12 foul shots. What had been an exciting and interesting game, never got back to tempo.

Friday night North Central College women's basketball team beat Ripon College in OT by a 113-111 score. Some of the numbers....
- length of game= 2 hours and 40 minutes
- number of fouls= 73
- combined ft's shot= 93
- Ripon players fouled out= all of top six players

It will be interesting to see what happens as the season goes on? Will teams adjust or is it too big of an adjustment to make? Will refs become more and more inconsistent from game to game? AND, in big time basketball what will happen with the TV networks who have payed millions of dollars for a certain product and have created a schedule based on traditional game length. Will there eventually be a pressure that says, "We had a good product and it is not a good adjustment?"

In the meantime what does all of this mean for high school basketball. After watching the rules video put out by the IHSA, it appears there are two issues going on with the IHSA.

1- Do high schools follow colleges?
2- Does Illinois feel one game and one set of refs and one set of coaches who screwed up in the State tourney require the entire basketball system be revamped?

As you may remember last year in the boys 2A finals, there was a mess. It involved claims of taunting and racism, ejections, and refusal to accept a state trophy. As a result the IHSA has decided it needs to become stricter with the other 700+ schools and their coaches in terms of bench decorum issues. And that part of the problem was allowing "hand checking on defense." So first, look for stricter regulation of coaches and benches this season.

Second, there is an emphasis on eliminating hand checking and bumping cutters. The problem becomes this is similar to what has been presented just about every year for the last fifteen years. Does this mean it will be stricter with high school refs wanting to mimmick NCAA refs, or will it be like it has been the last fifteen years- the game goes on? Part of the problem is the IHSA rules tape is via internet so refs and coaches have never been able to talk at a meeting about it to figure out where it will go. It used to be coaches and refs throughout the state met, got rules interpretations and then talked about them.

Will it help the game to be less physical? That is a judgement call. And therein lies the problem. As we enter the high school season every coach in Illinois is not sure what is going to happen. Players and coaches anticipate they will have to adjust to how the game is called and that the games may well be very different depending on the refs. Some refs will call it like they always have. Some refs will call the game very aggressively. The point would be that it will make the refs more of a central part of games, and that is not good. The focus of games should always be on the players!!

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