Friday, December 30, 2005

Most Disgusting Moment in my history as a ref

If you aren't into bodily fluids, you can stop reading here.

Second quarter of one of my games today. I step down to administer some free throws, and players point down at the floor.


There, in all its glory, is a used tampon, which somehow had become separated from its owner under the hoop.

It's not listed as one of my duties as an official, but I put the toe of my patent-leather shoes against that feminine product and scooted it up against the back wall, where it was eventually disposed of by someone with (I hope) gloves.

Some thoughts:
--This would be a problem unique to girls' ball.
--Was it really THAT rough in the post?
--I suppose the tampon would have to leave the game for the blood rule.

I was taken aback enough that I said to the players, "Well, this is a first for me," since it was. I now regret that...the owner of that tampon was within earshot of that, and probably embarrassed and not wanting attention called to it.

It happened again in the third quarter. I scooted it out again. A few minutes later, a parent, right next to me and far away from the action, asked "What was that?"

I broke my rule of not talking to the crowd, turned around, and said "You don't want to know."

Game Log 12/30/2005: Tripleheader!


--BloggingRef fights through bad salmon dip
--BloggingRef gives his first Technical Foul of the season
--BloggingRef has a fine 3-man game
--BloggingRef makes an embarrassing, although ultimately harmless, mistake

Today was a first for me--I officiated three games at three schools in the same day...and two of them were varsity games. I wouldn't want to do it every day, but it was fun to do today.

The opener was the Egg McMuffin game (8:00 AM) at an 8th grade tournament. Two well-coached teams and a solid partner. It was very uneventful...I don't think we made the bonus in either half. I wasn't feeling 100% (I ate something bad last night), and running was a little difficult, but my partner was understanding. I struggled physically through the first half, and then, like a car I was trying to work up after a summer in the garage, took myself up to third or fourth gear a couple of times in the second half. I managed to keep it together.

Then, down the road for a varsity tournament. I had a local city team against a Canadian team. In this game, I felt like I was calling fewer fouls than my partner...but I'll chalk it up to a coincidence, since I called more in the other varsity game today. Blue, strangely, seemed disinterested--bored, even. They didn't score a point in the third quarter! They were becoming frustrated, however, and I had to tell a couple of kids to stop jawing at each other.

What I'll remember from today's game, however, was the first T of the year. It was on Blue's assistant coach, and I have mixed feelings about it. Assistant coaches have no rights. That sounds harsh, but that's basically what the rulebook says. I'll chat with someone who is polite, but the instant an assistant coach becomes even remotely impolite, I will talk to the head coach--preferably so the assistant coach can hear me--and say "Coach, I'll listen to you as much as you want, but not to the assistant. Please control your bench." I did this today. I consider that a warning.

Then, an unfortunate turn of events in the fourth quarter as Blue was trying to struggle back into the game. I'm lead under the basket. Blue puts up a shot with three on the shot clock. It hits the rim. Blue rebounds and puts up another shot. The shot clock expires. My partner toots his whistle while the ball is in the air. Yuck. We come together, agree the ball hit the rim, but because the ball was loose when we blew the play dead, we have to go to the arrow. White ball.

Blue's assistant coach started hollering like hell at my partner, shouting that this is "a correctable error" (it ain't). It went on for a few exchanges between him and my partner, and since I'd warned the assistant, well, I decided it was over. Technical foul.

Should I have let my partner deal with it? Maybe, especially since I was all the way at the other endline. But I can live with this call because, no matter how far away I was, I had warned the assistant and he had ignored my warning.

The third game was two area teams from far enough away that I never see them, playing for third place in a tournament. One of them is from a conference notorious for its physical play, notorious enough that it's come up at association meetings that we need to use our whistle in their games. I was a little concerned. The first half was tolerable, but once Green took a 12-ish point lead in the third quarter, everything went to hell. It wasn't a fun game to officiate. Still, I am thrilled with my performance...I was calm, I did a 3-man game with minimal screw-ups, I can't remember ever calling out of my area, and my partners seemed happy to work with me.

One player for White was getting especially chippy in the third quarter. I saw her coming in with a forearm to the back of an opponent that was going to be ugly (and intentional) partner blew a whistle for something else before she delivered the blow. I ran across to her and said "14, you need to settle down." She responded with something about calling it both other words, I could tell she wasn't ready to settle down. So I did something I've never done before...I went to her coach and said "Coach, 14 is losing her control out there." The coach pulled her, and the game was slightly better from there...for a few minutes, anyway.

One MAJOR brain fart--I let the wrong team inbound the ball after a time-out, and had to blow it dead quickly (which might have been illegal). Crap, I haven't done that in 10 years! I won't EVER let that happen again, either, because I will be more careful to communicate in-bound location and direction on every time out (we were so busy coming together to talk about other stuff that we never did that), and I will verbalize color in addition to pointing (for whatever reason, I didn't this time). Stupid, stupid! But I won't let it cancel out the good work I did today.

I wish I had been observed in either of the two varsity games I had. I only have one under my belt at this point...which means I'll need four by the end of the season. My chances of being observed in future games is very much increasing.

THINGS I DID WELL: Worked through physical difficulty, poised, backed up warning to coach, handled a 3-man game well, game management with angry players.
THINGS TO WORK ON: Give partner a little more latitude, better game awareness (no more terrible brain freezes).
UP NEXT: Nothing until Wednesday night, when I'll have a lopsided big-school Varsity game.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Game Log 12/28/2005: I So Own This Rule Now

Great game today--two running teams, one local, and one from Canada. It was tied at halftime, White took the lead by about nine in the fourth quarter, and Green came rushing back hard. They were within one, gave up a pair of free throws, then had a chance to tie it with a buzzer three that missed.

I've been saying I was out of shape lately. I didn't feel it today. These little snots ran and ran and ran, and I managed to keep up without ever feeling tired. My partner has a reputation (he says it's unmerited) for calling very few fouls. In pre-game, I said I'm a big fan of getting a few fouls early. We did, then had very few in the second quarter. The game was a bit physical, but it mostly felt right. There was one weird block in the second quarter where White had a fairly ugly reach over Green's head while Green went up for a verticality given whatsoever. I was all ready to call it, but she absolutely got all ball. Green's coach was incensed, but I know I got that one right.

I had a weird situation that I probably could have handled better. It won't happen again. With about 4 minutes left, Green had the ball for a baseline throw-in. During the throw-in, at the elbow, Green gave a really bad push on a pick--threw both forearms out. Nobody gets to do that in my game. I blew it, I sold it, and I said "Team control. No one-and-one." Cool! I've got the new rule! No shots. I zipped around to give white the throw-in, handed the player the ball, and then said...uh-oh...there's no team control during a throw-in. White should be shooting.

White hadn't thrown it in yet, so I decided that the best route was to blow the play dead and shoot the merited free throws. Correctable error and all that. So I had it right by the book. At the next dead ball, my partner, however, said: "Don't be calling that fantasy shit." (It wasn't as bad as it sounds.) And I can see his point--I might have been better off just living with the error and moving on with the game. But now that I'm writing and reflecting on this, I think I made the best of the bad situation. Yeah, I know I shouldn't have been there to begin with, but now I've got it and won't let it happen again. And I got it right today...just a hair too late.

Other than that, all went fine. My partner said my 5-second count is a little quick (this after I had back-to-back 5-second calls). I'll have to tape myself to see. I positioned myself in the wrong place on some key late free-throws (silly brain freeze). On the whole, this was a good game--and yet another one in which I wasn't evaluated!

THINGS I DID WELL: Kept composure, called it tight early and loosened up
THINGS TO WORK ON: 5-second count, shot clock awareness, confidence in weird situation (get the damn thing right the first time).
NEXT: Three games--including two varsity tournament games--on Friday.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Game Log 12/27/2005: International Heckling

This was a fun one: a local tournament. My game featured a team from OUT OF THE COUNTRY! (OK, so it was Canada) against a team from a big US city that had to fly to get here.

First off, we noticed in the game before ours that another Canadian team was lining up on the FT blocks and heading into the key on the release of the free throw, both of which are illegal in US high school ball. So we used the pre-game to tell the Canadians those rules...then we repeated them for the coach.

This game had multiple personalities. Partner and I called a few early, then settled in for a marvelous second quarter--we almost didn't have to call a foul the whole quarter. (We wound up calling only 2 that quarter--both in the last minute and a half--and 11 for the half.) I thought it was a fantastic example of calling it tight and loosening up.

Unfortunately, the game devolved into a fairly ugly 4th quarter. We wanted to let stuff go so we could go home (the US team wound up winning by 20), and we did let a few go, but it wasn't good ball anymore. It's good to know that we share some things across boundaries, though, like a lack of understanding of the travelling and over-and-back rules, for instance.

Speaking of over and back, that was my worst kick of the day. Called one when the kid hadn't yet reached halfcourt. Bad, bad ref. Won't call that again.

The US team had some attitudes on it...I probably could have T'd one player on the team. After calling her for a walk, I headed downcourt, and when I next saw her, she looked like she was just finishing the throwing-both-hands-forward motion of disgust. If I'd seen the whole thing, I would have T'd her, but I didn't know for sure what had happened, so I didn't.

I called a lot more fouls than my partner in the first half. My partner was a guy I trust, so I asked him if he felt I was overcalling the game or tooting a few too many ticky-tacks. He said no...sometimes it's just a coincidence. We were a bit more even in the second half, so it's not such a big deal.

On the whole, this game was a good one for me--as good as the kids would let it be.

THINGS I DID WELL: Game management, didn't bail out out-of-control drivers for White
THINGS TO WORK ON: Dumb over-and-back call...not much else, to be honest. I feel we had a fine game.
NEXT: Same tournament. Winner's bracket. Tomorrow. Maybe I see the US team again.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Game Log 12/21/2005 or I've Got a Lot to Learn

I had two strong partners tonight--one of them officiated one of the state finals last year. They immediately appointed me the head ref because I had the shiniest shoes. I had the least experience--and especially the least 3-man experience--of any of us, but I made do.

We were anticipating a blowout, but much to our surprise, Blue (who we thought would get stomped) led by 9 after the first quarter. They held on until the fourth quarter, when a white run put them away--White won by 10. Things were a little bit rougher in the post than I'd like. I talked to the two kids I thought were the largest culprits...they mostly cleaned it up.

On the whole, I think I had a fine game, with a couple of exceptions I'll get to later. But I found a lot of the night difficult because my partners kept giving me advice on the floor. At every time out in the first quarter, they would head over and tell me a million billion things to change. I'll admit I'm not yet 100% comfortable with 3-man mechanics, but I can only handle one or two recommendations for change at a time. They wanted me to focus on and change everything. I finally told them to back off...I'd be happy to listen after the game, but not during.

I continue to be worried about where to look. Out of the 100+ suggestions I got tonight, one of the two big ones I'll take with me is that I'm actually too intensely looking in my area. When I'm C, for instance, I'm so focused on potential back picks and back-door play that I occasionally didn't pick up the ball when it came to my side of the floor. In general, I need to worry less about my area of the floor and open up my awareness--although not my eyes!--to the game, to the play, to what is likely to develop. The floor areas will follow.

I was especially impressed with how much information my partners had about each player at the end of the game. "White 10 was a disrupter. Blue 32 was rough in the post, and Blue 34 was rough outside. I thought White 12 was going to lose it..." etc. I don't yet have that level of intense knowledge of all of the players. I need to expand my mind.

The second bit I need to work on is to have a slightly more patient whistle, especially in grey areas. I had two calls that I'd like back--both on the shot. In each case, I anticipated a little bit, and that hurt me. Most egregious was a foul on a 3-point shot. Blue 4 came and took a flying leap and the shooter. I was C and right behind the shooter, and was amazed at how quickly 4 came at her...and she sailed right by...and I tooted my whistle. Damn, but I kicked that one--probably the worst call I've made this year. The coach asked me what I had, and I said she was grazed with the body, but I didn't like the call. MISTAKE. The coach was cool, but my partners rightly said I'd better limit my admission of mistakes to out-of-bounds plays and not to shooting fouls--especially not 3 shots.

Nonetheless, I do feel I had a good game, in spite of my partners' hundred or so recommended changes and challenges to my calls. I'm not knocking my partners, who are excellent referees--I aspire to be as strong as they are. But I do wish they'd taken the time to point out a thing or two I did right, because I'm sure I did at least one thing right tonight.

THINGS I DID WELL: Overall judgement, maintained decent confidence (I think)
THINGS TO WORK ON: Patient whistle, focus on gestalt play on top of my area, don't admit wrongdoing on shooting foul.
UP NEXT: I have a few days off for the holidays (although I am available for tomorrow...yet not used?). Barring a last-second call tomorrow, I'll return on Tuesday for a varsity game.

I'll likely blog once or twice between now and then about a couple of things my experienced partners said yesterday--stuff I agree with and stuff I disagree with.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


I did have to send a kid out of the JV game for wearing something on her wrist. The coach bought her back in with a time out. Weird, that I'd dream that and it would happen.

Game Log: 12/20/05

Two games today: a JV and a Varsity game at a small religious school.

Nothing went wrong, but they weren't my best, especially the Varsity game. I didn't physically feel great...had weird chest cramps. If I were older, I'd have headed to the hospital, but I'm young enough that I figured it was just what I ate.

Speaking of eating, what should I eat if I have to run from work to a game? What should I stop to buy in a grocery store? What if I have to drive through somewhere?

Anyhow, it wasn't very high quality basketball. That doesn't bother me much, especially since my partner and I were pretty much on the same page as far as letting some stuff go. We heard very little from either coach.

We heard an awful lot from one of the players on White, though. She was a hothead. She didn't like a couple of borderline calls against her...but she didn't like some of the obvious ones against her, either. I had to tell her to settle down and keep her cool. She approached my partner. He told her to settle down and keep her cool. Then, with a minute and a half left, after the ball went out of bounds, she lightly (but distinctly) tossed the ball off of her opponent. I was running up from my position as lead to in-bound the ball. I sort of saw it happen, but wasn't positive about it. Fortunately, my partner had it and T-d the girl. It was her fifth foul, and she was clearly glad to be disqualified. White didn't have any players left to replace other had fouled out, and everyone else had played the JV game, so White had to finish with four players. Fortunately, the Black coach was very sporting and went into a major slowdown to finish the game.

I feel good that even when I'm not 100% physically, I can have a game I'm happy with.

THINGS TO WORK ON: Conditioning. I need to get in shape and stay there.
NEXT: Tomorrow night--a big-school non-conference tilt.

Am I a "lead ref"?

Referee magazine had a very interesting article this month about the X-factor that makes people trust a ref on the other words, what makes an official a "lead ref." It says: "In all walks of life, leaders just stand out. They have an aura about them that tells you they have thigns under control. People believe in them and are drawn to them."

I think I'm starting to get there. But I'm not there yet.

Part of it is simply needing to get a few more seasons under my belt. This is my first year back on varsity after a four-year medically-imposed absence. Believe it or not, I feel like I'm a far better official now than I was last time I was doing varsity games--I feel like games are going smoothly (famous last words) and I'm feeling a confidence I never felt last time around. Maybe I'm just older, maybe the years of watching good officiating helped me, but I feel better.

But does the quote in Referee describe me? Not yet.

So what am I going to do? I'm going to start acting like a lead official.

The best way to become something one is not is to behave like that something. If I were (for example) shy, the way to stop being shy is to start acting like the life of the party. If I'm inattentive, the way to become attentive is to look closely at people while they talk. And if I'm not a "lead official," the way to become one is to...what?

This is where I get stumped.

I think some of it is simply calmness. I've been told I look very serious on the floor. I'm working on smiling a little, sharing an occasional joke with the players (when appropriate), and trying to communicate that I enjoy doing what I'm doing. A lot of it is going to be coach communication. I had that as one of the main things I would work on for this season, and I think it's working out so far (knock on wood). I'm able to politely communicate what I see--but so far, I haven't had a real butthead coach. That will come to a head then.

Most of all, I need to step up with my own calls.

Twice in the last two games, I've had situations where I felt like I had a call and didn't make it because I thought it might not be appropriate. While I don't want to reach into other officials' areas, I do need to trust my instincts. I need to come up strong and confident, not say "gee, is this call mine?" Even though neither situation really cost me much, and even though the situation in the last game seems to have gone the way the evaluator wanted it to, I didn't act like a lead referee.

That's something I'll be working on for the rest of the season--being the guy who exudes confidence in posture, mechanics, and being strong in key situations.

Hard to measure, but I'm on it--starting today. Lead ref--that's me.

Reffing dream

Last night, I dreamed that I was reffing in the place I'll be reffing this afternoon. I noticed a home team player had a rubber band around her wrist. By rule, she has to sub out. I pointed this out to the coach. The player threw the rubber band to the bench and said "OK, I'm ready." Not so fast, need a sub. The coach put a sub in for her, but then tried to sub her out immediately. Again, can't do that. That's when the coach went crazy nuts and I had to T him.

Strange, the reffing-stress dreams. I'll be looking very closely for jewelry today...

Saturday, December 17, 2005

One is an anomaly. Two is a trend.

PIAA Ref has started his own blog about his reffing adventures in Pennsylvania. I've added him to the blogroll. Go ahead and pay him a visit!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Game Log 12/16/2005: The 0:01 Bummer

Two games tonight...JV and Varsity. My partner for the JV game was a first-year man in our association, but he's done years of rec ball and CYO ball, so he was really quite solid. I'd work with him anytime. We were joined by a third more-experienced-than-me partner who was the R for the varsity game.

The JV game was quite uneventful. The only real issue was that the shot clock was not working (for both games), so I had to count a 10-second backcourt count. Since I don't do boys' ball, this is a little tougher for me than one might think...after the game, the experienced varsity partner had to tell me some things about the rule. Other than that...solid.

The varsity game was a blowout...White beat Blue by about 35. (Incidentally, I was calling them "Blue" and my partners were calling them "Black" for the first three quarters. Dammit...I really think they were wearing a very dark navy blue, but I was the one looking like a dork for being different. Just because neither of my partners can see...) We called a very good game, I think, keeping it under control without calling a million fouls (I don't think we made the one-and-one in either half, but things were clean.) If the game were 31:59 long, I'd be blogging about what a stud I was tonight, but something happened with a second left that has me questioning myself.

I was Center. There was a jump ball...two players on the floor. It was just outside the key on my side of the floor, down by the baseline. On a rebound, this is pretty well either official's call, but in my primary. Both my partner and I came in with the jump signal, closed on the players, and I gave my customary "easy...easy..." The Blue player, who was frustrated at the score, was trying to disengage, perhaps a little wildly. The White player gave her a weakish but discernible one-handed push as Blue leaned away to get up. I felt like I could have called a T, but with my partner right there, I deferred. We just let the Blue player, very upset, walk away, inbounded the ball, ran the last second off the clock, and got the hell out of there.

The Blue assistant coach was upset. He said to me "You've got to stop that!" My reply was, I think, reasonable: "We did, coach." (Of course, I had no business talking to the assistant. Perhaps my decision to talk to him betrays my uncertainty?) After all, it was over, and we were headed to the locker room. The assistant followed us there. My partner explained what he had. I didn't...I don't ever want to reward a coach--particularly an assistant--who follows us to the locker room.

After the game, my partner said a no-call was best. Blue had rolled over onto White, which frustrated white. Blue was already bummed about the scoreboard. There was one second left on the clock. We were evaluated. Our evaluator also said a no-call was best. Everyone thinks we got it right.

So why am I wishing I'd called either a technical or a double technical?

It's not the assistant coach's words...I can (and do) ignore that. It's that, as I was closing in, I thought "that's a T." But I let it go to my more experienced partner. I walked the walk...explained it to the coach right, and to the evaluator. But I can't help but think it would have sent a good sign to T either White or both. Sent a message of "Hey, I know it's late in a blowout, but pushes...even weak one-handed ones...and flopping over on a player are NEVER okay."

I think I just need to come in stronger in a situation like that and trust my instincts a little more. I'll blog about that soon.

THINGS I DID WELL: Blowout management, three-man rotations (yay me! this was my best 3-man game yet!), focus.

THINGS TO WORK ON: Don't call across the key as lead, confidence/decisiveness in weird and intense situations.

NEXT: Tuesday afternoon, I have JV and Varsity games at a tiny religious school.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Unrelated to officiating...

On Wednesday, 12/14, Jack Bogdanski of Portland, Oregon will donate one dollar to local charities for every unique visitor to his blog up to $1,250. It might be worthwhile to surf on by.

Here's the link.

Game Log: 12/13/2005 or The 3-Man Struggle Continues

One impact that so many of our conferences going from 2-man to 3-man is having is that I'm getting better games. Simple mathematics: wherever you are on the varsity list, your chances of getting a better varsity game are increased by having 3 officials on a game instead of 2. Tonight's was a closely matched game that Blue came back and won late, mostly because they hit their free throws.

I'm glad I wasn't observed tonight, because I never really felt right. Some of it was that I had a contact lens that kept bugging me. Not painful, but just a little irritating, like I had an eyelash in there or something. I plugged along anyway.

But where my last 3-man game had a good, long, solid pregame with one of my partners, tonight's didn't have such a good pregame since both of my partners were working the JV game. During live ball situations, things felt just fine...I picked up on rotations and made it to the right place time and time again. But I repeatedly ran to the wrong spot on free throws. I also wasn't in the right position as trail...I continued to want to step out onto the floor like I would in two-man.

Worst of all, I find myself feeling timid to make calls that might be out of my area. In a way, this is good--I should be timid to make a call that's outside of my area. But there was a key travel late in the game that I saw, should have called, and didn't. Here's what happened:

I was the center official running into the frontcourt. There was a long pass from about the free throw line and across halfcourt to the other free throw line...all the way opposite the court from me, on the other sideline. The player caught the ball and stumbled back with both feet. Travel. Not an obvious one--the home crowd didn't go nuts--but still, I knew it. Worse, I also knew it was my call...even though it was totally on the other side of the court from me, the trail couldn't pick that one up, and I was actually thinking "if anything happens on this catch, I've got to call it." It did, and I didn't. I think I've simply been so conditioned not to call anything far away (one of my mentors ridiculed my "AT&T Long-Distance Calling" in one JV game years ago) that, as of now, I can't even do it when I know I'm supposed to. And I'm disappointed in myself for that. I can't let that happen again. Toot the whistle, close on the call, and sell it. Even on the opposite sideline, that sucker is my call.

Am I being too hard on myself? Probably. This was something like my eighth 3-man game ever, after perhaps a thousand 2-man games. It will be a while before this becomes second nature, I guess. I'd like to get to the point where I can go back and forth between 2-man and 3-man as easily as I can go back and forth between driving a manual and an automatic, but that's probably not a fair metaphor. It's more like going from driving on the right side of the road to driving on the feels that strange to me. Rather than simply driving the car (or reffing the game), I'm thinking about what I need to be doing to drive the car. That's bothersome.

It'll come. And tonight's game wasn't that bad. The players made it easy--they were well-coached and there was minimal contact. My only conversation with a coach was totally civil. He said "We're getting pushed on rebounds and now we just got a touch foul." He was calm and civil, and I responded in kind: "I think their players are taller than yours, coach, and they're just reaching over yours. But I'll watch for it." Coach management is easier than I thought it would be this year, at least so far. But in my next game, I have the only HS coach I had to T last year, so maybe it'll change. Or maybe not--I won't be holding a grudge. But I will be ready.

THINGS I DID WELL: Coach management, preventative post play officiating, rotating/picking up rotations
THINGS TO WORK ON: Three-man comfort, calling the plays that are in my area in unusual situations, going to the right place on 3-man free throws
NEXT UP: A JV game and a Varsity game on Friday. I have the winning team from tonight again.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Game Log--12/9/2005 or 2-Man vs. 3-Man

Two games tonight...a freshman game and a varsity game.

The freshman game wasn't very high quality, and I don't remember much from it. My partner for that game would be one of my partners for the varsity game. he made it pretty clear that he wanted to save his energy for the varsity game, so he wasn't running very hard and wasn't switching on fouls, etc. That's a legitimate's tough to run through two games...but it's not my choice. I feel like my brain falls out of the game if I'm not following full mechanics. In for a dime, in for a dollar. But I went along with my partner, and eased through the game.

The varsity game was another matter entirely. For the second time this year, I had an evenly matched game, with the home team winning by five. The game was, for the most part, uneventful. There are two calls I'd like back, both because a partner had a better look at it than I did. Each was in the paint on the opposite side of me, and each would have been a decent call to make in a two-man game.

This is a problem for me in my first three-man game as a varsity official. Since I have limited experience on a three-official crew, it doesn't feel second-nature as it should. I'm worried about my paint calls now. There were one or two no-calls that I really wanted, but I didn't take them because I felt like I didn't want to step on a partner's toes. A lot of this will come with time.

The issues with being by the bench after calling fouls are getting better. It helped that both coaches were quiet. After a player-control foul I had, the home coach simply asked "Was she set before my player left the ground?" I had this one solidly, so I was able to answer confidently "Absolutely." The visiting coach jumped on me for a n0-call he didn't care for. I simply said "Keep your cool, coach." Perhaps that was a little snide, but it was unintentionally snide.

What feels weirdest to me about the three-man game is how little I have to run. I barely broke a sweat. This just feels weird. I think I channel the physical tiredness I feel during a two-man game into mental focus. I never thought I would say this, but I actually sort of miss all the running. I feel sort of cheap doing a game that requires that much less physical effort. Still, I have to stay 100% mentally on as I work. As one of my partners said tonight, "The two-man game is a physical game. The three-man game is a mental game." I've always known I like the mental game, but I never thought I was actually enjoying hauling my butt up and down the court every night. I guess you don't know what you've got until it's gone.

THINGS I DID WELL: Coach management
THINGS TO WORK ON: Comfort with three-man, clear knowledge of own area in three-man.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


I still get nervous before games...until about tipoff.

The nerves are pretty intense. I start thinking about it a few days in advance. I check the standings. If it looks like a pair of good teams, it gets even more intense. The day of, I'm able to set the game aside at work...but as soon as the work day ends and I'm on my way to the game, I feel it. I pop a Pepto. I get to the gym extra early. I watch the JV game. I try to remember what I'm working on. I find and talk to my partner. I get in a pregame.

I wonder if this is a helpful thing or the opposite. I wonder if I should work on toning it down. But I'd hate to get to the gym and feel not nervous. That could lead to apathy, which I don't want.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Game Log--12/5/2005

First varsity game...and it was a great one. I felt fantastic all night. Didn't have a moment where I felt uncertain or out of it. There were a couple of minor issues, but no major carping and no big problems. I am a much better official than I was the last time I was on the varsity list. I actually was a little disappointed that we weren't observed tonight...I was that happy with just about every aspect of the game.


Coach management. It helped that both coaches were calm, but I nipped a potential problem in the bud. White's assistant coach was carping about illegal screens. Once I figured out it was an assistant talking, I showed her a stop sign. At the next dead ball, I went to the head coach and said "I'll listen to you all you want, coach, but I can't have your assistant barking at me." End of problem. And we called some illegal screens. (We'd called several already, actually...some were clean, some were borderline, and some were bad, but we were on them.)

Working with a partner I like. That's the best part about being back on the varsity list--quality of partners. In our pregame, I said: "I'll want to call some stuff early. I'm not a 'let 'em play' kind of ref. It's better to be tight early." He totally agreed! Then, 30 seconds into the game...I had a foul away from the ball. My favorite early off-ball screen. It announces: "Guess what, players! We're here, and we're watching off-ball! Get used to it!"

They didn't, unfortunately. We called a LOT of fouls, especially in the second quarter. But the third quarter was better. It was a one-point game after the third--two fairly good teams still working off the cobwebs of the offseason. But Blue put it away with three straight treys early in the fourth and wound up winning by nine.

I was relaxed enough that I actually told a joke to a player! We were told that a player had just picked up her fifth foul, but there was some confusion. While my partner was at the table working it out, the player was (understandably) upset, telling me she only had four. I told her we had to go with what the book said, and he was working it out. My partner came back and said she had four. I said: "You've had a midnight reprieve from the governor. You're still alive!" She was shocked...and then laughed. And she played very well until she picked up her fifth foul about a minute later.

I didn't catch myself looking off-ball almost ever, except for maybe one brief point early in the third. Physically, I was motoring along well.

Yay me.

THINGS I DID WELL: Off-ball coverage, coach management
THINGS TO WORK ON: I still could use less voice. And my association patch fell off. Velcro simply won't do...I've got to sew the sucker on. It's embarrassing to run to the coach to get back my patch.

NEXT UP: I have commitments the next few nights, so I won't work again until I do a freshman game and a varsity game on Friday night.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Game Log--12/3/2005

Two rec games today--6th grade, then 8th grade. I had a partner I trust, and the games went quite smoothly.

The first game was so routine that I already have very little memory of it. The main issue for me was I was using my voice too much. Because of past vocal cord issues, I need to ease up...learn to use the whistle instead of shouting. "NO SHOT! NO SHOT!" needs to be replaced by repeated toots of the whistle. Funny...people do know what that means.

If anyone reading this has other advice for how a basketball ref can save his voice without sacrificing communication, go ahead and leave me a comment.

The second A challenge. Green was beating White 20-0 after the first quarter. I called my partner over and told him that Blowout Priorities were in effect:

Priority 1: Safety. Don't let the losing team start pushing, shoving, and letting out frustrations. Call anything that looks remotely chippy...don't let things get out of control.
Priority 2: Run the clock. If a foul isn't on a shooter, isn't obvious, and doesn't meet the above "frustration" criterion, don't call it. Let's get out of here.
Priority 3: Protect White when we could. No need to add insult to injury if we could help it.

These priorities are in order of importance.

Fortunately for us, the Green team coach was a good guy. He eased up significantly--there wasn't a fast break after the first quarter. This ran the clock (a very nice idea) and prevented any severe bad blood from fermenting. Still, Green was a lot better.

Halftime score was 35-1, and Green led 43-1 in the third quarter. Somehow, 43-1 feels like more of a blowout than 43-0 to me. White got in a couple of hoops in the third quarter, and actually drilled a buzzer-beating three pointer at the end of the game to make the final tally 59-8. Cutely, the player who hit the three jumped into a teammate's arms.

Our game was fine--no chippy play started up at any time. I stayed focused usually, save for one egregious mistake when I blew the whistle when the ball went over the backboard...I was LEAD. Inexcusable. Even in a blowout game, I need to not watch ball then! Stupid! Oh well...a brain freeze. Just like the one where I ran downcourt after an offensive rebound. Embarrassing.

During a time out, my partner also said something that I've heard before...that I look too serious on the floor. It's funny...I'm having a good time, but my face indicates that I'm dour and sour. I asked him what I could do. He wanted me to keep my whistle out of my mouth on the first of two free throws. I don't like that idea...I need to have it there in case something weird happens. His second bit of advice was better. "Smile. At least once." I asked when. He said "When your partner makes a good call."

Pause. I then asked my partner:

"But what if that never happens?"

See, I can be loose out there. But I'll still work on it.

THINGS THAT WENT WELL: Managed blowout game nicely.

THINGS TO WORK ON: Look relaxed and calm, not dour and sour. Eyes on area as lead. Use less voice.

NEXT: My first varsity game of the year will be Monday night.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

All dressed up...

My first varsity game of the year was cancelled tonight due to snow.


Two little-kid games this weekend, then my varsity debut on Monday.

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