Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Game Log 1/31/07: Near-upset

Good game tonight with two good partners. Minimal coach guff and several calls I liked. I especially remember one I had across the key as C. There was a drive where L was straightlined, and I guess T had too much traffic...but it was a major, major smack on the wrist. As L signaled out of bounds, I ran in with my fist in the air and said "I definitely have this one, partner." Felt good.

But I had a strange disease tonight where I kept pointing the wrong damn direction. Didn't do wonders for my credibility, but for whatever reason, out-of-bounds-dyslexia wouldn't leave me alone tonight. The worst was when I had a call on the other side of my baseline. "White!" I shouted. My C had a far better look at the play. He came to me and said "I have definite knowledge the ball went off of White." I said okay, stepped back, and repeated "White!" In those three seconds, I guess I completely lost control of everything. I also totally ran to the wrong side of the court once on an out-of-bounds was just a bizarre series of minor brain mess-ups. I talked to my partners during a time out in the fourth quarter and said: "I don't know what my deal is, but there's 4:47 to go, and I won't fuck up again." They laughed. Good people.

Winless was up by as many as ten in the fourth quarter, but sub-.500 chipped back into it, including on a critical and-one I called. They tied the score on a bucket with a minute to left, and then white committed a line violation on the ensuing throw-in. Unbelievable...but unpassable. Sub-.500 then missed a shot, and then Winless stepped out of bounds as they were pressed. With 10 seconds left, sub-.500 were put on the line on a big foul on the shot, and made both. Winless's desperation heave was off. Bummer.

Good game in many ways. I just wish I'd pointed the right damn way. Evaluator noticed all of this...sounds like it'll be a fair and accurate evaluation.

THINGS I DID WELL: Call selection, calmness
THINGS TO WORK ON: Brain freezes on pointing
NEXT UP: Small-school varsity on Friday.

Going to the videotape

I've checked out most of the video of this game before heading out for my game tonight.

I've noticed...

*I can't get so mesmerized on the ball on a shot that I ignore the forearm. I need to extend my focus a bit.

*I still run a little funny, but I'll be damned if I know how to fix it. But nobody's telling me about it anymore, so I must be better.

*A few more players went to the floor in that game than I'm comfortable with.

*I do exude confidence these days. No wonder I'm being treated better.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Game Log 1/30/2007: Two easy junior high, one tight varsity

Tripleheader tonight, although I'll hardly count the two junior high. These were tiny little religious schools. The "varsity" had one or two ballplayers. The "JV" (mostly sixth grade) were very unskilled. I loved watching a kid on defense stand behind her backboard, between it and the baseline, jumping up and down with her arms up. Marvelous. And another asked me "Where does the three stand? Here?" But my favorite moment by FAR was when I called a foul (one of very few in both games) on blue #22, and adorable munchkin of a sixth grader. She timidly said "I'm sorry!" I laughed out loud and told her she didn't have to apologize. Just awesome.

A tight big-school game followed. It was fantastic. I got a good call early, which helped, and heard absolutely nothing from either coach all night (well, one minor gripe from the visitor, but barely worth noting). Partner helped me on a shoving match around a screen that I didn't toot because I couldn't decide who the aggressor was...I just need to pick one out. (She got the pusher-through while I was deep in thought about who to call it on ). I had two brain farts...I thought the quarter had ended on what was actually a shot clock violation with 8 seconds left in the third, and I changed #23's foul to #22 on my way to the table once (and on a call that may have been soft, although I stand by it). But there was a lot more good than bad tonight. I even had a great shooting foul--a push--TWO SECONDS into the second half. Back-door pass for a layup in front of me as C, and she was pushed. And-one!

This was close late, too, and I stayed calm and on top of things.

Just a great night. My brother was there to videotape me, and I look forward to seeing me at my'll make my weaknesses more evident, I think.

THINGS I DID WELL: Calmness, call selection, tooted whistle on partner's line when he missed two obvious bounces on the baseline, alertness
THINGS TO WORK ON: Weird brain freezes.
NEXT UP: Another big-school game tomorrow...winless against sub-.400.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Game Log 1/27/2007: A Tale of Two Halves

Not surprisingly, #1 in the state beat sub-.500 handily. And while I can't recall a call I'd like back, I never got into it in the first half.

There were about 22 fouls called in the first half. I had exactly three of them. They had the first seven. I'm not even sure I had an out-of-bounds call for the first five minutes while my partners called fouls and were accused of overcalling the game by the home coach. We got together around then, and I asked if I was missing anything. I was told I was not...the game just wasn't coming to me. It wasn't that way for the rest of the first half.

To be honest, I had a complex about it. We chatted at halftime, and my partners were way less concerned than I was about it.

I double whistled a foul early in the second and was sure to take it to the table rather than my partner. And whattaya know...I had two calls within a minute after that...a hand-check and a good push through a screen. Suddenly, I was the one who had to give up calls.

Maybe it just took me some time to get acclimated, or maybe the game just didn't come to me. Either way, by the final buzzer, I was happy it happened.

Speaking of the final buzzer...this game ended with a halfcourt three-point shot by the losing team. It was close...I'm not positive she got it off...but I figured what the hell...close to a thirty point game...I went ahead and signaled "good if it goes." It went. I'm glad I did it that way. After the game, my partners disagreed about whether the ball was released on time, so it really was that close.

THINGS I DID WELL: Game awareness, consistency on screen calls, had a smooth second half where the losing team did not get frustrated
THINGS TO WORK ON: I'm noticing a tendency to need a little warmup time...passing on stuff early that I maybe shouldn't. That needs to stop Also, my rotations are a little late.
NEXT UP: Thankfully, two days off. Then, two junior high games and an evenly-matched varsity game (two sub-.500 teams) on Tuesday.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Overdoing it?

Tomorrow is my seventh game in six days.

The only reason I'm working so much is that I have some makeups from earlier postponements. But maybe I shouldn't do so much.

Next week will be better.

Game Log 1/26/2007: Doubleheader

Freshman game today was fairly uneventful. I already only remember two things about it:

--Going to the shot clock operator to ask her to reset the shot clock after the inbound after a made shot. As I did so, the AD got mad at her, saying: "You didn't listen to me when I told you that, but you'll listen to him?"

--Doing something downright embarrassing. As we walked up the floor to shoot some FTs, I decided to throw the ball to my partner...and I threw it into a player's leg! I apologized and then went to give her five. We laughed for a long time.

Varsity game tonight was a blowout as expected. One of the coaches is one that I T'd earlier this season. He remembered me. In the brief discussion before the game, he said "Could you warn me this time?" (It wasn't impolite.) I said I thought I had warned him, and that was that. No grudges.

White actually led 7-2 at one point. Coach was elated! They were already down 12-8 at the end of the quarter, though, and down by 31-10 at half. Yow.

It was a strange night partner partners were a woman who has a negative impression of me (my one game with her was the worst I've had in many years) and a JV fill-in. We were worried because it was the JV official's first 3-person game outside of a camp (and his fourth overall). But the game was as smooth as a baby's bottom.

I can't remember a call I'd like back. I didn't hear boo from either coach.

But my varsity-level partner did. The coach who used to bark at me, but now doesn't anymore decided that she was her bitch. He didn't like a call she had on a boxout that caused displacement. A lot of coaches (including this one) coach their kids to use their butts to back their opponents up about ten feet and call it a "boxout." You can't do that. He actually told her: "That's what I teach them to do." Well, then he's teaching them to foul. She responded "They can box out, but they can't displace." I called one later on his opponents. (No complaint.)

I had an issue where a player on the losing team went down to tie her shoe after a made hoop by their opponents. They wanted me to blow the whistle. I didn't, since we can only stop the game for glasses or contact lenses. Partner suggested after the game that I might do so, given the score of the game. I disagree. I told the coach that he needed to call time out...then backed off and said I'd check it out tonight. why the hell did I do that? Where's that damn confidence? It's coming, I guess. We learn a lot of this stuff by making mistakes.

THINGS I DID WELL: Call selection, more as T and C.
THINGS TO WORK ON: Confidence in weird situation
NEXT UP: #1 in the state against sub-.500. Happy to be there, though...I've always wanted to ref this #1 in the state. Classy program, classy coach.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Game Log 1/24/2007: Great evaluation, great partners

I worked with a top-five official today that I'd never worked with before. It was a massive pleasure...I wish I'd had a chance to work with him earlier.

One of my main problems as an official is tunnel-vision...I get to concentrating so deeply that I get very tight. Most partners of mine have to focus on getting me to loosen up considerably. As I gave feedback to the JV official, for instance, I said: "This next pointer is a little complex." Partner thought that was so funny that he wrote it on the board: "Word for the day: Complex." I wound up as the R, pregaming well. Both partners were helpful.

The game was quite smooth...I didn't have too many calls, actually. Probably fewer than both of my partners. Top-Five had very few in the first half, and a bunch in the second. The other partner had loads in the first half, few in the second. I just kinda didn't have as many. There was a foul disparity in the first wound up 10-3. I wanted a call on Green, but they just weren't there. I also wanted to take some passes on White...but their fouls were unignorably rough.

It was close at halftime before Green pulled away.

Funny second-half moment. I saw a kid with a hairpin on top of her head (how did all of us miss that?). I sent her out of the game for a sub. At a subsequent time out, Top Five said to me: "You hardass. This was her big chance to get in the book, and now she won't. You took her big moment away from her." My response: "Oh, hell. am I going to have to pay for her therapy?"

But get this: Top Five took it to the next level. A kid came onto the court from that time out with an untucked shirt, and settled in my area. Naturally, Top Five signaled to me to get her to tuck it in...thus making me the hardass again. We were laughing a bunch at that.

Evaluator was wonderful. Quoth he: "It's my job to make you guys into better officials. Tonight, however, you were already better officials." Awesome! His only suggestions were that I be careful not to bail out as C and T. This is the second game in a row where I've gotten that advice, so I'll do it. Top Five also said I was getting too far away from the end line as it was like two Ts. I've been doing that to avoid getting cement feet as C, a past criticism. But I'll try to make my movement either towards the baseline or onto the court...and limit it to a step and a half.

THINGS DONE WELL: Game control, call selection
THINGS TO WORK ON: Avoid drifting out as C, and NO MORE BAILING OUT.
NEXT UP: A freshman game and a probable-blowout varsity game on Friday.

Game Log 1/23/2007: Unmemorable junior high

The games I had yesterday were so routine that I forgot to blog about them. The 9th grade game was nice and smooth--quite enjoyable, easy to officiate. I called one block I shouldn't have...girl had verticality. Need to be much more patient with the whistle. The second game had a lot of unskilled kids (both massive rosters clearly had a no-cut policy). We had to let a good number of travels go. I had a policy that I'd let a third step go on the perimeter, if the kid was sputtering to a stop--but that I'd call it in the post. We stuck to it. Had very few fouls to call. Both games, actually. It was like stealing money.

THINGS I DID WELL: Adjusted calls to game's need. Good coach communication.
THINGS TO WORK ON: Verticality. Staying focused in easy game.
NEXT UP: Well, next up has already happened...see immediately above.

Monday, January 22, 2007

I love my wife...

She goes to a game or two a year to tape me, and she was there tonight. I just told her how tough it is to be a I tend to dwell on the negative (as you can probably tell in these posts...I'm forever focusing on my missteps...a casual reader of this blog might come to the conclusion that I'm constantly bungling stuff).

In response to my lamenting being a perfectionist who carries my mistakes too long, she said:

"Yes, but that perfectionism is one of the things that makes you a good ref."

True. And exactly the right thing to say at the right time.

Hands off, fellow refs. She's mine.

Game Log 1/22/2007: The Big One Finally Arrives

This is the big one that was postponed about a week and a half ago. While things certainly could have gone better tonight, it's a fine place for me to start high-pressure games. The #1 official in our association was one of my partners tonight, and she said I had a good game. I, of course, am a perfectionist, so I'm spending my time mulling over the three minor errors and one fairly big one I had tonight, but if #1 Official says I had a good game, I had a good game.

(Of course, I was evaluated we'll see if he agrees when I get the score this spring.)

On the whole, I felt all right through the night. There was a lot of thinking about "am I doing all right?"...but I imagine that will go away with time. I missed an early reach...probably nerves...and wound up close to the sideline on a play where the player might have been pushed out. I'd like another look at that one. And in the final minute, I had a rebound foul that, in retrospect, was a little soft for that situation. But the big mistake was a timing snafu...and my role in it was that I was too timid. My partners, while fine officials, needed me to come up strong, and instead, I went along with what they said.

There's a minute left. I'm C. The ball is inbounded very, very far away from me. My partner (not the #1 official) is on the ball. There's a dribble--maybe two--and the ball goes out of bounds. I look up that the clock. There is STILL a minute left.

I should have tooted the whistle right there and gone to partner on the ball. I didn't have any definite knowledge of the time that went off the clock, so I figured I'd let my partner handle it. But when the coach came out of her box and said "THE CLOCK DIDN'T START!", that sort of decided it for me. I can't let things be decided for me, dammit.

So I ran over to her and asked her what the situation was. She asked me to put 52 seconds on the clock.

I went along with her. I suspected 8 seconds was too much for the play we just witnessed, but I decided to trust my partner. Bad move. All I had to do was say "Are you sure?" All I had to do was say "You have definite knowledge, right?" But I didn't. I was deferential, and that meant that both of us went down in flames.

Thing is, I have no need to be deferential anymore. I belong on the floor. In a similar situation last week, I took charge. It was a close game...but it didn't have the same importance or intensity. I can handle this. But tonight, my rules knowledge would have been helpful if only I'd SLOWED DOWN just a touch. Long enough to take one breath and say: "Are you sure? Did you have a count?"

The wronged coach, however, was yelling the wrong thing. He said the clock was at 1:06 before the play began. That's just flat-out not true, and I told him so, but I cut off the conversation as soon as I could.

Evaluator suggested that the #1 official (a Hall of Famer everybody recognizes) should have run interference. With me the new, unfamiliar face, evaluator felt that the loud, rude coach (the one who was saying the clock didn't start) would eat me alive. I'll have to look at the tape to see how I held up. I think it was okay.

I will learn. I will not dwell. I will focus on the positive. Even with the errors, this ain't a bad place to start big-time high-pressure ball.

THINGS I DID WELL: Stayed calm. Felt good. Called a tough game reasonably well...mostly let it breathe.
THINGS TO WORK ON: Less timidity/deferentialism and more slowing down in bizarre situations. Be ready to call fouls early; avoid soft ones late.
NEXT UP: Two junior high games tomorrow. This week is on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Game Log 1/19/2007: We'll focus on the one play.

Tonight was ugly. A million billion fouls. We as a crew, I think, didn't have a great night. There were times when they were calling fouls and I wasn't. There were times when I was calling fouls and they weren't. I don't think there's anything we could have done to make this game have flow, and we certainly didn't affect the outcome of the blowout game. But I'm not satisfied with the performance. For my own reasons (not the least of which is the lateness of the hour), I will focus on the one that went wrong and ask for help for ways to avoid it.

Red was down by about a dozen at half, and White totally blew it open in a lopsided third quarter (which included a good number of press-related turnovers). On the play in question, I was C running up in front of Red's bench. The press was on and the ball was coming up the sideline right behind me. I set up next to the Red coach and turned my head to the left to pick up the ball. The kid crossed -immediately- in front of me, and when I turned my head--surprise!--there was a defender on the sideline. Damned if I know how she got there, or how long she'd been there (it could have been an hour or not at all). Big collision right by me. I had no choice but to toot the whistle. Player control. Red coach goes nuts.

In retrospect, if I wasn't sure in that situation, I probably shouldn't have called it against the team getting blown out. Game awareness later.

After the game, my partners told me I missed the call, and I know why I missed the call...I didn't pick up the defense soon enough. My question is, as C in that situation, what could I have done to prevent that? Not picked up the ball? Not been so far downcourt? Please help me?

Anyway, this brought about an unfortunate chain of events. I could have handled talking to the coach...I would have told him I picked up the defender late, and I wish I had another look at it, and it would have been fine (this coach likes me). But since we were going the other way, I had to run away from the coach instead of told him. He hollered at me from his bench: "SHE WASN'T SET!" It was loud. Bad news: Partner heard instead, "YOU GUYS SUCK!" That's a T...for something she misheard. To be fair, it was a good T anyway...he was outside the box and yelling loudly. But this whole damn thing could have been avoided if I had:

1. Gotten the damn call right in the first place.
2. Been able to talk to the coach.
3. Been able to communciate that I'd chat with him later.

It was just one of those things, I guess. We'll move on.

We tried to loosen up a little (with varying success) in the fourth quarter. Then, with a couple of minutes left, the teams cleared their benches. I did my only poach of the night...had a foul on the body across the and-one for the winning team. I never should have poached that. Partner gave me a major, major evil eye. Not sure I merited was just a mistake, not an attack...but I shouldn't have called it.

Not long thereafter, there was nearly identical body contact at the other end of the court. This time it was definitely in my area. I called it again.

This was a part of a lengthy lecture partner gave me after the game. "Let the clock run!" she said. In this situation, with players getting some of their only playing time of the year, well, I don't want to be too lasseiz-faire. I'll protect the shooter. Could I have let it go? Yes. But I stand by that second call.

THINGS I DID WELL: Posture was good. I think I slowed down a bit.
THINGS TO WORK ON: A few double whistles, a poach, and a bad charge call (that I need help to figure out how I could have avoided).
NEXT UP: The massive game has been rescheduled for Monday. I wish I could have gone into it off of a better game than this, but I'd had so many good ones in a row prior to this one that I can shake it off.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Looking for knee knowledge

After just about every game this season, a different part of my body hurt. I actually took that as a good sign. If my ankle was sore yesterday, but my groin today, and my hammy last Thursday, that meant I didn't have a problem.

But my left knee is bugging me for a few days now. The inside part of it, kinda low. Feels like it's bone hitting bone, although I guess I'd have no idea what that feels like. Strangely, it only hurts when I sit around...I haven't noticed it during games.

1. Am I risking amputation by continuing the season?
2. Is it a good idea to do acupuncture on one's self?
3. Should I invest in a sleeve? Ice down after games?
4. Would I be overreacting going to a doctor at the first sign of pain...just a sign of hypochondria?
5. If I miss my big big (rescheduled) game on Monday for this, can I Gilooly somebody else's kneecap just to make myself feel better?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Game Log 1/17/2007: Wow! What a tight game.

7-2 at 1-7. I was ready to get into blowout management mode. It's only natural.

Nope. The underdog, Blue, jumped out to a huge 14-3 lead. They maintained an 8-point lead at halftime. In the locker room, partners Chuck (longtime veteran) and Greg (relative newcomer) and I talked about the surprise of the score. "White's got a run in them," we said. "Be ready."

Third quarter...same old same old. Blue is up by ten. Amazing. We have an amazing upset on our hands.

I'm feeling just a little bit off at this game, perhaps because weather postponments and a holiday weekend have kept me off the court for the last 8 days (and off varsity ball for the last 12). I come out a little too strong...I call five of the first seven fouls, and a couple of them are across the paint when I'm lead. DAMMIT! NO MORE LEAD CALLS ACROSS THE PAINT!!! Things settle a little bit, and I don't feel like I'm screwing anything up (only one call that I want back). But I still want to back off. Holy cow...but I do. I wind up calling only 2 of the 16 fouls in the second in each quarter. This plays a little with my mind (am I missing anything?) but not too much. Again...I don't feel like I'm calling any outrageous passes.

In fact, the worst mistake I made was an uncharacteristic lack of communication. As lead, I bounced the ball to the free-thrower (shooting one shot) before one of my partners was ready. Thank God she made it...otherwise I would have totally sold my partners down the river. I'll chalk it up to a brain freeze...I think this is the first time I've done that in nine years. I won't let it happen again. Free throws are a great chance to slow down anyway.

So we reach the final 1:03. The score is tied, and I am lead. Blue has the ball. They pass it around for 28 seconds before launching a three. (The shot clock is clear...the bench is counting it down.) It hits only glass and goes off of White over the baseline. I give the ball to Blue, then look up at the shot clock. It reads 27.

Uh-oh. I think it was reset by mistake.

I'm lead, so I have no business looking up at the rim (and to be honest, I don't think I was (but I was confident the ball hit only glass). I run over to Chuck, my T, the veteran of the crew. He's got a look on his face that tells me he shares my sense that something is awry.

ME: Did that ball hit the rim?
CHUCK: I don't believe it did, but I want you to check with Greg.

I run across the court to Greg. He tells me the ball did not hit the rim.

We have a shot clock violation.

Now, to explain it to Blue's coach. I do. A player on the bench says: "Oh! Just give the game to them!" Coach shushes her quickly (good move, coach). But then the coach speaks, and her words baffle me.

"I'm just worried you're letting him [Chuck] call the game for you."

Huh? I went to him. Maybe she'd noticed I'd had only two fouls that half?

Anyway, no sweat. We got it right. I go inbound the ball to White.

White runs the ball to midcourt. The game clock is running. The shot clock is not.

I stop the clock, and say: "I want a minute on the game clock and 27 seconds on the shot clock."

Long delay while they execute that. The shot clock wasn't running. During that delay, Blue's coach comes back.

We have a classic miscommunication. She believes the arrow incorrectly points to White. "They switched it after that last jump ball." The last jump ball was a long time ago. I go check with Greg (intentionally avoiding Chuck). He says the arrow is fine.

The conversation goes on too long. I could have stopped it there. Eventually, I figure out that she thinks a jump ball preceded the shot clock violation. It wasn' was just out of bounds off of White.

Eventually, we inbound the ball. Partner calls an egregious reach against Blue with 8 seconds left, and white makes one of two free throws. Blue, the prohibitive underdog, has the ball with 8 seconds left.

We come together to go over scenarios...a quick foul by White (not yet in the bonus), who has the last shot, etc. Three time outs and a foul later, I have the last shot. It is well in front of the buzzer, and hits back rim.

No upset.

All in all, in spite of the imperfections, I'm happy with my performance tonight. I didn't lose my cool late in a tight game. Rather than feeling nervous, I felt focused...deeply focused. It was a great night.

THINGS I DID WELL: Poise late, crew communication late, clock and shot clock awareness
THINGS TO WORK ON: Truncate lengthy exchanges with coaches...even if we're miscommunicating. Work for more crew integrity, both in fouls (don't have so many more or less) and in violations (they had loads of travels, and I didn't have any, which can't be good).
NEXT UP: Friday night's game should be a blowout...but then, tonight should have been too. As Chris Berman says, that's why they play the games.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Cricket update

A ways back, I told you about a cricket umpire who declared a ball tampered with, which resulted in a forfeit by Pakistan in a big match against England. I also promised to keep track of the news about it, although I did not promise to understand any of it.

An investigation revealed the ball was not tampered with (although the evidence looks borderline, according to this article). He's in the news today because he will umpire at a one-day series in Kenya...but he's through as a full international umpire.

Meanwhile, the Pakistani skipper who refused to take the field in a timely manner has been given a suspension for "disrepute."

I'd love to give an opinion on all of this, but to do so, I'd have to relive my whole life and be born somewhere else. But hey--a promise is a promise, and now I've come through.

Friday, January 12, 2007

I like it all except for the "normally overmatched" part

Some ref love from ESPN's Bill Simmons this week:
Most underrated performance: the officials from the Pats-Jets game
We're always complaining about refs, especially during the playoffs, but give them credit for not blowing a whistle as Pennington's backward pass was rolling around. That wasn't an easy call for a group that's normally overmatched.

I was waiting for somebody to notice, and somebody did. Thanks, Bill.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

This is sad.

Look at this depressed official. Look at the posts he's decided to keep up.

Brother, I feel your pain.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

At work today...

I was distracted, working hard. During lulls and lunch, I would think: "Wow, I've got a big game today. Wow, I'm stoked. Wow, I want this to go well." Then I'd get back to my job. I had invited a couple of co-workers to tape the game, so I could see how I responded to the pressure, so word got around the office. One worker said: "Wow! You've got THAT game?"

I left work early, just in case the weather or traffic acted up.

Ten minutes into my drive, the game was cancelled due to weather.

Here's the deal: When the game is rescheduled, my partners and I get the first crack at it next time. And when the game is rescheduled, it'll be later in the season...and therefore an even bigger game.

I'll be on it, and I'll try to keep the nerves under control. (But I think it's a good thing that I'm nervous for a big game. It means I care.)

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Game Log 1/9/2007: I scratched his back, he scratched mine.

Another Best Of All Time record has been established: Best solo game.

I had a high-quality junior high game early in the afternoon. I left work and got a call on my cellphone right away: my partner was stuck in traffic that wasn't moving. "I'm on my way," he said, thinking he'd make it.

Right before tipoff, he called again. "I'm not much closer," he said. "I hope I can make it by halftime.

I took the coaches aside and said "I'll do my best. I'll probably miss some, but I'll work as hard as I can."

I started the game off with an off-ball call! Brilliant move...a way to say "hey, kids, I won't just be watching the ball."

Early on...about three minutes into the game...I noticed an awfully loud fan for White. While I'm working alone? Screw that. I had the coach and the table shut them up.

Things were actually quite smooth...the kids were talented and well-coached, and the game was close. Both coaches took the time to compliment me at halftime. I might have missed a call or two on shots where I had poor angles, and I had to call a jump ball on a game that went out of bounds through traffic on the opposite side of the floor. But beyond that, the game was nearly perfect.

Had a voicemail at halftime. He was closer...

He arrived between the third and fourth quarter. The game ended tightly (fouling by the losing team, time outs, etc.). It was rock-solid.

There was a problem, however. With three and a half minutes left in the game, um, well, something went wrong with my lunch. Seriously. I mean, I was having trouble running due to the discomfort.

In one of the many late times out, I told him to tell the coaches for the second (junior high "JV") game that I was sick and I'd be out as soon as I could.

I joined him with about 3 minutes left in the first quarter, and we had another close game. Clean, mostly, but there was a foul disparity that couldn't seem to be cleaned up. In any event, by then, I was a stud from working the first game alone, so I didn't get any complaints.

THINGS I DID WELL: I think I slowed down, handled one-man mechanics well, was totally in charge
THINGS TO WORK ON: Lost focus a tad in second game, lunch menu
NEXT UP: Huge varsity game tomorrow night. Two top teams in the state square off, and I'm on the game. Dig it.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


A couple of really tight reviews for Walt Anderson yesterday in the fourth quarter, both of which went at least possibly in the Seahawks' favor. I think he did a hell of a job on some damn tough calls.

Where are last year's conspiracy theorists?

Friday, January 05, 2007

Game Log 1/5/2007: Man, do I ever feel good.

It was one of those nights where everything just went wonderfully. I feel like The Man.

First, I had a freshman game. Utterly uneventful. One team was up by a score of 29-4 at halftime. Ick. Both teams were fairly timid, and the coach of the losing team was an absolute saint. Whatever they're paying him, he deserves more for his infinite patience, calm demeanor, encouragement, and emphasis on teaching. The second half was especially slow--almost no contact, and believe it or not, the game actually developed a flow when the losing team hit a few shots. It was like stealing money.

Then the varsity game. What a pleasure. The game went smoothly. My partners and I called it right. It simply felt better for me than any game I've had in a long time. I can think of two situations where there might have been travels that I each case, there was a defender coming up and I focused on the defense like I was supposed to, and may have missed a foot shuffle. I was T both times (or was I C?), so perhaps I'm a little too close to the play. Two steps back and I can watch both feet AND upper body. And late in the game...a 15-point lead or so...we got together and said we were doing a good job of letting them play (which wasn't a problem, since the game was mostly clean) and would continue to do so. I followed with the only call I want back on the whole night: a ticky-tack against the losing team on the perimeter. There was contact (wrist on wrist) as the player started to dribble, but it didn't at all impede the dribbler or affect the game. And I'd just agreed that we were doing so well letting them play!

I even started the game with an off-ball push call on the big girls crashing in the high post! Dare I think that helped clean things up? I've been taught that the best call a game can have in an 0ff-ball call in the first two minutes. It took me twenty seconds...but it was a good one.

Anyhoo. My vow of a couple of days ago regarding the chatty coach turned out to be utterly unnecessary. He literally said one sentence to me all night! It was in the fourth quarter. His player on a fast break had just lost the ball out of bounds. I signalled it was the other team's ball. As I passed him headed up court, we had the following exchange:

HIM: "Did you see the grab from behind?"
ME: "No."

Works for me. Great night. He did chat more with one of my partners. It could be a total coincidence, or it could be that he's decided that yakking at me is a waste of energy, either because I suck or because I'm unimpacted by "working the official." I'll vote for the latter, but hey, it works either way.

I also handled a strange situation with my partners. I had heard that these two had a run-in on the floor the last time they were together. I have no idea what the reality of what happened is, but when partner A was telling me how mad he was when partner B sold him/her out, I made a decision: I would be the crew chief that night! That way, in the event that there was trouble, I would get to make that decision.

Speaking of a strange situation, White inbounded the ball with .5 left in the first quarter. The kid caught it and shot it...I think before the buzzer. (I was T away from the table, so it was my call). My L waved it off while I was signalling it would count. (Thankfully, the shot missed.) I was annoyed--maybe even pissed--about that, but didn't show it. I just said: "Hey...that would have been bad if it had gone in." His response: "No. With half a second or less on the clock, it has to be a tip." I said "'s .3 seconds." The other partner broke the tie...against me. These two formerly warring partners now united against me! I dropped it and hoped it didn't come up again. It didn't. I have now checked the rulebook...I was right. And she caught it and shot it before the buzzer. If that ball had gone in, as crew chief, I would have been stuck with a damn tough situation with both partners disagreeing with me. Looks like I'll be sending them an email...

THINGS I DID WELL: Call selection, was a good partner, just plain felt great about my call selection
THINGS TO WORK ON: Slow down my preliminary signals, be more vigilant about travels
NEXT UP: Two junior high games and a tiny-school varsity game on Tuesday. A damn big varsity game on Wednesday...maybe the game of the night. I need to get myself videotaped to see how I look under pressure.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Game Log 1/3/07: Another T, Blowout, Evaluation.

Two teams, both winless in the conference, went at it tonight. Apparently, not all winless are created equal, as Green won by 40. It was ugly from the get-go, and my partners and I did well to keep everything under control. As our evaluator put it, "You could have called everything and gone home at midnight, or you could have called not enough and had the game get out of control. You did well going in between."

It became fairly clear in the first quarter that Green would win. White had only 6 players on the roster, and we wanted to be careful not to foul anybody out, but man, White was throwing themselves at Blue all over the floor. Next thing you know, we've got a foul count of 7 to 1. White's coach is barking. He's not asking questions, and he's not saying anything polite or useful or productive. He's mostly saying "Geez! It's 7 to 1!" I go downcourt as T, and he's in my ear. I take a little, then I show him my palm and say: "Coach, I'm done with you." Too much? I suppose I could have started with "I hear you!" but it didn't feel appropriate, and when he responded by saying: "I bet! I'm done with you, too!" well, it was a T. third of the third in my last 4 varsity games! I guess you could argue it was a quick trigger, but my partners and evaluator liked it.

There was really only one call I want back...late in the game there was a scramble for the ball, and I saw White wind up, in the course of diving, knocking Blue to the floor. In a 40 point game, right in front of the White coach, that's probably a no-call. It happened in a sequence of several good calls that went against White, too. The coach quietly murmured disappointment. I was able to pretend I didn't hear.

I saw the evaluator before the game, and idly wondered whether I'd be evaluated by him (the philosophical guy I like so much) or his evil twin (who I don't). The good guy showed up. He says my mechanics are too loose, and that it might have prevented a good player control foul I had from being convincing. Fair enough. But I'm proud of a positive comment he put. Next to appearance, he wrote: "Yes--I believe!" I have no clue how this has happened, but apparently I look like I belong now. Maybe this is why I've been treated with such respect lately (at least until tonight).

Good game, but I can do better. And with a couple of big games next week, I'll have to.

THINGS I DID WELL: Demeanor, handled blowout well.
THINGS TO WORK ON: Tighten up mechanics, get away from the line as C.
NEXT: Freshman and then varsity game...a competitive matchup. Featuring the coach that has flummoxed me in the past. If things progress as they often have, I'll let him know to pick his spots. But he'll start with a clean slate.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Game Log 1/2/07: A couple of mental mistakes

Two small-school teams tonight, with two partners I trust. The teams weren't very talented, but were well coached. It was an interesting combination...watching kids who have trouble handling the ball running this nice back-door stuff.

It was a fairly easy game to do, and therefore an easy game to lose one's concentration. On the whole, the game went well, but I made two mental errors in the fourth quarter that show me that I wasn't cluing in enough.

In the first three quarters, I only remember two calls. One was a close blocking call that I feel good about...I had the defense all the way. There was another one where White rebounded the ball and Blue came in with an ugly leap and lurch towards the ball...and BAM!...she totally hit the ball. I held my whistle back. FOUL! FOUL! shouted the Red coach. Next dead ball he asked: "Wasn't that a foul on that last pass?" My response: "Coach, it was an ugly ugly challenge [where the hell did the soccer terminology come from?], but it was all ball." He accepted my explanation. I must have come to him with gravitas of some sort. It always surprises me when coaches listen to me.

Fourth quarter. Jump ball...White ball. I'm inbounding the ball under the hoop when my C has a team-control foul on White...before the throw-in. I get set to in-bound the ball to Red, but partner is having a long conversation with the table, trying to tell them to keep the arrow to White. It's a long conversation. Do I trust my smart partner? No. Do I head over to chat with him? No. What I do is I FORGET THAT HE'S CALLED A FOUL, and mime to have the arrow switched. Incorrectly. The throw-in hadn't ended, so the arrow stays the same. Next time, if it's weird, we come together.

Then, with about 30 seconds left, Red calls time out to empty his bench. As we start the game again, he says: "Can I have a second to wipe up this water?" I look on the floor...the water is right by the bench, not on the field of play. So what do I say? A damn lie that comes from my too-tired brain. "Coach, that's not on the floor, so we can play. If it were, I'd have to give you a T." WHAT???? It's not a T. It's a delay of game warning. I know why did I say the wrong thing? Fortunately, I was able to run by him and say: "Coach, I don't know why I said that. It wouldn't be a T, it'd be a delay of game warning." He said: "Well, either way, thanks for letting me know." So that was corrected.

The game was smooth. I had two fouls--one player-control and one team-control...that, while I stand by them, I started looking at the play late. I was C in one situation, picking up a perimeter dribbler from T. She totally cleared the opponent out with her forearm...but I didn't see the play develop. Could it have been something else? I saw the forearm, but that's the first thing I saw. Nonetheless, since I was picking the play up at the rightful time, I suppose that's still my call to make. Ditto for a team-control I had as lead. I had the ball on the baseline in front of me. When the player kicked it out to the perimeter, I shifted my eyes to the big girl in the post...and saw the last 80% of a push to get a player out of the way. Good call, I think, but I'd prefer to have seen the whole thing. But then again, I had the stinking ball before's not like I was looking in the wrong place.

So, I'm a little bummed about the two mental errors, but all that means is that the game fell short of perfection. Maybe I was tired after having to get up for work again after a holiday break. I'll try to get a little more sleep tonight...I've got another game tomorrow that might prove to be a difficult-to-focus-on game.

THINGS I DID WELL: I must be conducting myself well. The sometimes-snotty coach totally accepted every call I made, and every explanation I give...even when I'm not sure of them!

THINGS TO WORK ON: Mental focus late. See the whole play.

NEXT UP: A conference tilt featuring two teams at the bottom of the standings.

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