Friday, January 11, 2008

Game Log 1/11/2008: Back to good games

Freshman boys--big schools.

The game started with my partner showing up late. I did what one does in this situation--told both coaches that I knew my partner would be here (we'd had email contact), told them I might miss out-of-bounds lines and the kids should play until the whistle, told them that I'd call everything I could off-ball. You know that sinking feeling of looking to the entrance every thirty seconds? Ick. So I started the game solo, and the kids played good, clean, energetic ball for 3:30. I called my first foul of the game just as partner showed up.

The game was smooth--only nine fouls in the first half, 18 in the second half (compare to 18 in one quarter yesterday) and reasonably-skilled players. Post players responded to talking, although I did tweet one White player for pushing off. He had pushed off the previous play, posting up on a defender who fronted him, but the ball sailed out of bounds. I just gave the ball to Red, and when the Red defender complained, I said "The ball went to you," and he nodded. I wanted to chat with the pusher-offer, but didn't have a chance, and when he did it again the next trip down, it was a complete no-brainer.

I had a chat with a coach. He was bummed with one non-call early on...felt a Red player was barrelling down with his shoulder (I felt like the defender was backing up, so not much contact and no real call, at least from my position as lead on the other side of the key, and why the hell was I looking there anyway?), and then he felt like I bailed the kid out with a ticky-tack call on "a shooter behind the backboard" (I may have bailed him out, but it wasn't a ticky-tack, and he was shooting a reverse layup that wasn't an unreasonable shot). Anyway, later on, he was sitting in his seat bitching loudly about my partner's call close enough for me to hear. I decided to step over. I'm undecided on whether this was a good move or not.

COACH: (mutter loud mutter unflattering loud mutter)
ME: (stepping over) Coach, I'll only respond to polite questions. I won't respond to a complaint.
COACH: I wasn't asking a polite question!!!!
ME: (Legitimately surprised at the coach's candor, I laugh.) Then don't talk, coach.

That last witty bit of mine probably was not a good idea. Should have left it with the previous statement. In spite of this, I think the tactic wound up being effective. A few trips down the floor later, he said "Could you watch for three seconds on 55 White?" My response: "OK, sir." (Memo to self: no more calling coaches "sir.") Next trip down, I had a legitimate three-second call on 34 White. While I don't like the fact that it looked like I was influenced by the coach, I do think he may have learned that polite questions are effective. Something about flies, honey, and vinegar, I think. Still, I'll try to avoid the temptation for that last word.

White was the better team, up by double-digits or high single-digits for much of the second and third quarters. But Red had a good run in the fourth, and next thing we know, it's a one-point game with under three minutes to go. Gut-check time!

It was short-lived. White took command very quickly, and was up by 8 with 30 seconds to go.

Here's where I showed my stripes (pun intended).

White was passing the ball around, looking to run out the clock. Red was going to foul them, and unsuccessfully. Then, White found a kid all alone under the basket. He went up, and a Red player took a step and a half to him and gave him a moderate forearm shove in the back.

Intentional Foul. Player was displeased. Coach was silent, and subbed for the player, and (I fervently hope and perhaps even believe) told him why my call was good.

Was it a violent foul? No. Was it vicious? No. Was it intentional? You bet your ass it was. In my game, we will not shove shooters in the back when clearly beat and while making no effort whatsoever to go for the ball (the fouler didn't even jump).

It wasn't a perfect game. I called 10-seconds at one point, and did so timidly--I think because of my girls' ball past, I felt kinda funny calling it, like I was forgetting something. And I fell into ball-watching, I think because I'm a little sleepy lately.

But I think I'm doing all right on these freshman games. I just hope somebody notices.

GOOD: Gutsy, correct call late, talked to players, felt like I had a presence
WORK ON: Shut up to coaches, focus more on off-ball
NEXT: Freshman game--I forget the gender--on Monday.


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