Sunday, September 03, 2006

WNBA Finals observation

When the officials and the coaches are miked, I learn a lot about coach management at the highest level.

First, a funny exchange between Shock coach Bill Laimbeer and official Bob Trammell. Trammell had called a bump on Deanna Nolan.

Laimbeer: "Why'd you turn your mike off?"
Trammell: "So I can talk to you."
Laimbeer: "My mike's working, so they can hear everything we say."
Trammell: [laughs].
Laimbeer: "Okay. If we ever got a call like that, just a small body bump, it would be unbelievable. A cheap little foul like that one, and you gave it to them. Are you embarrassed?"
Trammell: "No."
Laimbeer: "You called hand check out there you wouldn't call earlier in the game? Double standard, eh?"

This is, of course, one of about 800 attacks Bill Laimbeer has made on the officials' evenhandedness. Yawn. Still a whining, idiotic caricature of himself after two decades.

But if you were watching 30 seconds later, you were witness to something just wonderful. Are you ready?

Stop the presses: Sportscasters defended officials.

Dave Pasch and Doris Burke were on the call.

Burke: "He's got the entire world against him."
Pasch: "Does the word 'paranoid' come to mind?"
Pasch: "At what point, though, does Detroit stop complaining about the calls and start worrying about playing basketball?"

Back to Laimbeer. He's just had another call go against his team.

Laimbeer: "We'll go off, we'll talk about it...We got stuck three games in a row, we'll talk about it...That's three games in a row that they get all the calls and we get nothing. That's embarrassing. Sometimes you'll find [or "in the finals"] it turns the other way."

Pasch: "They're down 15 not because of the officiating."
Burke: "That is correct. I mean, he [Laimbeer] admitted in the first half that they stopped playing on a number of occasions."

And then, the coup de grace...

Burke: "To me, that's ridiculous from Bill Laimbeer. These officials are not against him. You can question their calls, but don't question their integrity. To me, that's absurd."

Nice! Now, to be sure, Burke's questioning of their calls is sometimes off-base...for instance, she passionately wanted a travel on a play where I saw a player fall back onto her butt while the ball bounced right in front of her. You have to have the ball to travel, Doris. But I'll happily forgive that sin for the much greater good she did above.

Thanks, team. Any chance you can call Monday Night Football this year?


At 6:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interestingly enough, Bill was the star of an article on the relatoinship between refs and coaches:

Gamesmanship. For some, it’s as much a part of the game as the squeak of basketball shoes. Getting that intangible advantage can be reflected in how a coach works the media, a player, the other coach or, for the purpose of this discussion, an official.

Consider this recent example: Watching a nationally televised game between the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun and Detroit Shock, the Shock were making a furious comeback. On an inbound play, Detroit center Ruth Riley was called for a foul – probably her fourth, maybe her fifth. Immediately Detroit head coach Bill Laimbeer, all 6’11”, 260 pounds of him, loomed over official Lisa Mattingly (who’s got to be 5’8” or so on a good day), saying “Oh, that’s a terrible call. A terrible call! And millions of people are watching on television and seeing what a bad call that is. That’s a horrible call,” he continued, “and it’s all out there on national T.V. for everyone to see."

Never mind the fact that the replay clearly showed the television audience the correct call was made, it was obvious he was using his physical size, his recognition of the media exposure (both coaches were miked), and the pressure of a close game, (imagine if it had been at Detroit!) to try and influence how the game was being called -– though it is hard to imagine how that might work on such an experienced official as Mattingly.

At 12:03 PM, Blogger Blogging Ref said...

Thanks for the link, anonymous.

What coaches fail to understand is that, at best, their efforts to "work" an official are a crapshoot. At lower levels (think Saturday morning), there are four possible outcomes to berating an official:

1. They might be able to intimidate a poor/young/weak official into a call.

2. They might have an official who might go out of his way to show he/she is NOT being affected by the verbal abuse, and therefore continue calls against the whining coach's team.

3. They might simply take the official out of the game--and the result will be general poor officiating on all sides.

4. There might be no effect.

Two of the four possibilities are negative, and one is neutral. That's hardly odds in the favor of "working an official."

Additionally, as we get to the top ranks of officials (like the WNBA), the bad officials (#s 1, 2, and 3) are weeded out. Only 4s are left. So Laimbeer is accomplishing nothing other than looking like the butthead he is.


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