Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Game Log 12/30/2008...Resumption

Uneventful JV Girls' game tonight. To my surprise, I was working with a higher-up college guy tonight. Maybe they couldn't find anyone else for the 4PM start, but there we were, me at the bottom of the varsity list and him at the top, working together on a JV game.

The game featured some borderline screens up high that we probably should have called in the first half. We agreed at halftime that we'd start calling them, but they cleaned up in the second half...the third quarter flew by. The quality of play wasn't too bad for JV girls (this doesn't mean it was good, though). It was a close game that Blue won by 5 with a few key late buckets.

I'm thinking about my approach to coaches, which has developed into not hearing them. My partner spent a LOT of time in conversation with players and coaches. We wound up warning both coaches, but I'm noticing that this year I'm just not bothered by them...what barking there has been this year has gone right by me. I've thought this was a good thing...but watching my partner's different philosophy today has changed my mind. I think it's really better to be aware so we can nip it in the bud. It certainly would have made this game easier...

This led to a discussion of how to handle a game with one loud coach and one quiet one. Partner said--I think wisely--that the quiet coach will get the impression, rightly or wrongly, that the refs are being "worked." So I guess I'll try to increase my game awareness.

Indeed, if anything went wrong tonight, it was that I was too tunneled. I tooted my whistle across the key (forgiveable in two-man) and called the foul, all before I noticed that my partner had his fist in the air (not forgiveable ever). So I just need to--same as ever--SLOW DOWN.

Oh, two other things. I told myself I'd call every foul and violation with my left hand tonight. That didn't happen. I still need work on this.

And there was one rule that I should have stepped forward and enforced. There was an injury right in front of Blue's bench. I beckoned the Blue coach onto the floor (although he didn't have to leave his seat). After about 90 seconds, the player popped up and my partner went to inbound the ball. I said "Wait, that injured player has to leave the game...ah, never mind." Should have been stronger and enforced the rule properly.

But I'm being fairly hard on myself. I did a lot well, too. When Blue #11 committed a foul that made her upset at my partner, I noticed them having words. Immediately thereafter, Blue #11 fouled again...a good one. While it was outside of my area, I went ahead and tooted it. It was a double-whistle, but to prevent 11 from blowing her top even more at my official, I ran out and said "I've got this one." Pretty good watching-partner's-back and preventitive officiating, if I say so myself.

So, a decent day. But my legs were dragging. 2-man mechanics and the long break didn't do me any favors. I'll try to work out over the next couple of days for my Friday doubleheader.

THINGS I DID WELL: In sync with partner, good, consistent travel calls, enough game awareness to help partner out in weird situation
THINGS TO WORK ON: Conditioning, don't get lazy with sub rules, probably let too much go in post
NEXT: Friday girls' doubleheader. The best program in our area against someone from out of town I'm not familiar with. Could be great; could be awful. I'm ready for either.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Cancellations galore...

and I'm at 2 weeks without a game as of tonight. Nothing slated until a week from today, either. The first week was by design (medical absence). The second week we were pulverized by weather. And next week is light because of the holiday.

In other news, I've gotten my first set of peer evaluations back, and I continue to passionately dislike peer evaluation. I hate doing them, and I hate receiving them. They've put in all of the numbers, and my partners have given me a score that I can't interpret the meaning of. Geez. Speaking as an educator, I hate it when people give assessments that don't mean anything and can't be used to improve.

Some feedback indicates that I need to stand up straighter and tighter mechanics. Guilty as charged. The same guy wrote that he'd work with me at any level, so that makes me feel good even if the score was a shade low. Someone else wrote that I "appeared lost on dead balls." Maybe that was one of the days that I was struggling back and forth between 2- and 3-man mechanics...maybe it was one of the most recent games where I was really sleepy, or maybe he's just full of it. Another guy said I "never moved as Lead." Maybe I had an off night, or maybe the defense was in a zone and moving was superfluous, or maybe he's just full of it. (And, on top of this, I don't remember any partners asking me at halftime or at a dead ball to move more as lead. For them not to tell me during the game but to ding me severely on an evaluation for it is flat-out crap.)


As such, they're useless to me. Neither I nor anybody else can get better through this assessment method. Plus, during a game, I'm concentrating more on the game than on how I'll evaluate my partners. And on top of that, knowing you'll be evaluated in every game by every partner is NOT good for us. It means we might be too quick to cave in to partners' ideas rather than fight for what is right.

Keep in mind none of this is me bitching about numbers. I've made an agreement with myself to stop doing this the day I get hung up on numbers. It's about getting better.

If I gave my students comments on their essays without showing them their own writing and examples of the things they were doing well and things they could work on, they wouldn't learn.

If a coach wrote down everything an athlete was doing well or doing poorly, but waited until two weeks later to tell them their strengths and weaknesses, they wouldn't learn.

But that's what we're expected to do here. And it frustrates me, because there are many better ways to do this.

Sigh....this is speaking like a man who may now be compelled to join the damn evaluation committee...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Looks like I took the wrong week off.

After my weeklong medically-imposed break, I've had a weeklong weather-imposed break. Tonight's freshman game was cancelled, and forecasts are bleak for tomorrow's boy/girl small-school varsity doubleheader.

After that, my next game is Monday...unless I'm marooned by weather on my holiday trip out of town.

I see the practice and money going away...but what can you do?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Talk to the hand

In a meeting recently, we were told that the traditional showing-the-coach-the-palm needs to be changed. You know what I'm talking about...the stop-sign, the international gesture for "Stop doing that right now." We were told that it is seen as disrespectful. We were recommended we replace it with a gesture which has the palm pointed downward and moved a little towards the floor, as if to say "Calm down. Take it easy."

I'm having trouble doing this. I want to show the coach my palm.

Two reasons:

1. The above. I certainly intend no disrespect, but if I'm saying "No more, coach," I want my gesture to say what my words are saying. Seriously, I've even practiced saying "That's enough, coach...no more" while moving one or both downward-turned palms towards the floor. It feels bizarre. I can't do it.

2. Plus, if I have to give a T to a coach after said warning, I want any videotaped evidence of the game to show that I showed him/her my palm (in a calm, respectful manner, of course). If it looks like I'm trying to calm and placate him/her (as the downward-palm gesture does), then have to whack him/her with a T...well, it'll look inconsistent and surprising. But if I clearly show the "no more" gesture, then T him/her later, it'll look (correctly) like the coach ignored my warning.

I think I'll risk it. Talk to the hand, loudmouthed coach.

First varsity boys' game...

is delayed. Weather kept the visiting team from making it to town tonight. Of course, nobody let me know, or (I think) let my assignor know. When I made it to the gym, I walked in on a practice, and the coach said "Didn't anyone tell you? Games were cancelled." I hope I get paid.

But my freshman game on Friday has been scrapped and replaced by another tiny-school boys/girls varsity doubleheader. So my debut has merely been postponed, not scrapped entirely.

Next up: Thursday. Girls freshman. Probable blowout.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I've got some good news...

and some good news.

No minor surgery for me. Yay.

I don't think I'll put myself back in the mix for tomorrow, though...a sleepy ref is not a good ref. And I'm behind on the day job. And I need an oil change. So I'll go to the oil-change place, go on a day-job marathon, and then go to sleep.

The better news is that my earlier concerns about the sudden dearth of varsity assignments was unfounded. I've just picked up a couple more girls' JV/Varsity doubleheaders for January. So that's good.

I'm a little concerned because one of them is with a partner who, while a good guy, is awfully green, young, and (I think) not yet ready. Maybe he's improved a lot in a year...I'm not sure. But I'm ready to step up and be more of a leader if need be.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Game Log 12/9/2008: One big mistake, generally pooped

The first call of my two-not-too-good-teams Varsity game tonight was not a good one.

I'm U1, chopping in the clock on the jump ball. I say to myself what I've said to myself for every jump ball in my career: "If White wins, I run right. White is right. White is right."

I'll have to adjust that, because Green and White jumpers went up, rattled the ball around, and Green caught the jump ball.

My mind just said "Oh! Green got it...run left!"

So I did.

None of the three of us tooted our whistles for a jumper catching the jump ball.

Yeesh! That's pretty bad, but it honestly didn't even occur to me that that had happened until White's coach asked me a polite question at the first whistle. Bizarre. I paused, thought, and then said "Coach, I flat-out missed it." That ended it. U2 certainly could have had it, but he's new to varsity and was rather nervous. R could have had it, but by the time he put the whistle in his mouth, I guess he'd decided it was too late. It's a crew mistake, but I'm taking much of the responsibility. Dammit, I know the rule, so why'd I manage to completely not have it register in my head that it had happened?

Long games tonight, both JV and Varsity, and far from home, so I'm a little tired. I'm short sleep and battling a minor medical issue that I'll have taken care of with minor surgery tomorrow. But mostly, I just noticed my mind wandering. I felt good about the rest of the JV game--the calls were just fine. But I sort of felt sleepy.

That carried over into the Varsity game. There were eleven fouls called in the first quarter, nine on Green. Somehow, I whistled NONE of them. I got my first foul in the second quarter (a good off-ball moving screen). Green was up 14 at half, so I told myself to stay focused and ref it a play at a time from there.

But White came back. The game came down to the final minutes, much to my surprise.

With three minutes left, R called us over and said "OK, this is close. It needs our full attention and effort. I'm going to tell the coaches to stay in their boxes, and if they leave, it'll be a T."

Thirty seconds later: T on Green. I respect him for calling it, but I'm not sure that 2 minutes left in a close game is the time to do it. (R said as much after the game, although he believed--correctly--that Green was gaining an advantage by being out of the box. Still...)

R also warned us about White's coach, who he said was a former ref who had left the association under controversial circumstances and who liked to ride refs and tell them what to do. I guess I've developed a thicker skin this year, because none of what he did (which honestly wasn't much) bugged me. I did show him my palm with two minutes to play, simply because I didn't like him trying to get in my ear on a free throw then. I said "Coach, there's two minutes left. I don't want to hear you anymore. You can do two minutes." It worked.

One of the reasons it was close was that Green's best player fouled out. It happened early in the fourth, right after I'd gotten together with my partners, saying "Guys, 45 Green has four fouls. Just so you know." I was T when 45 drove baseline and collided with a defender (who, respectfully, I didn't think was there yet). Rookie partner called it a PC foul as Lead. It was more his call than mine, since the drive was baseline--so even if I had the block call, it's a good thing I didn't whistle it...we'd have blarged for sure. Not surprisingly, the Green coach was displeased. (He'd be more displeased when he got the T later.)

Anyway, I just wasn't quite with it tonight. Game was fine, and my calls were fine...no huge "Oh my GOD" moments. But I never quite tooted the whistle like my partners did tonight, and my brain wasn't as fast as I'd like it.

I now have a week off due to work commitments and the aforementioned minor surgery. I think it's probably a good thing. The day job is kicking my ass right now, so a little break from reffing likely will be good for all aspects of my life.

THINGS I DID WELL: Composure late in close game, coach communication

THINGS TO WORK ON: R said I only signal violations with my right hand. I hadn't noticed, but I think he's correct. I may need to focus on that...maybe call my next freshman girls' game entirely left-handed just to prove to myself that I can. Also, get my brain in the stinking game. Also, change my jump-ball mantra to "White is right, and watch for the weird. White is right, and watch for the weird...."

NEXT UP: Thursday: Mega-small religious school vs. mega-small rural school. Two varsity games; the latter will be my first-ever boys' varsity game.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Game Log 12/8/2008: No problem

This JV/Varsity doubleheader was so calm and smooth that I literally barely remember any of it. The JV game was a 15-pointer, the Varsity game far less close. JV went just hunky-dory. I started to notice my legs getting fatigued late in the game...just tired muscles that didn't want to move when I told them to move. But I hung in there.

I must have gotten a second wind during the Varsity game because I could move again sometime in the second half. I looked up at the clock during the fourth quarter and kept saying to myself: "Seven more minutes of great reffing. Move your ass and stay alert." "Six more minutes of great reffing. Move your ass and stay alert." The losing team had one particular game-messer-upper (although we use a more colorful word than "messer") that kept pushing. I got her on a couple, and she got better. If anything, I started focusing to much on her and may have missed other stuff, but it was clear that the game called for her to get special attention. I also talked a lot to the post players, saying things like "Knock it off!" and even stepping onto the court for a stern "Stop it!" during dead balls. I think it worked better not to keep tooting the whistle for this game, which was approaching a 40-point blowout. Talking was better than whistling.

Partner thought I didn't do well on a shooting call. Hand got ball, but I thought all of the forearm also got all of the forearm. The bad news was that everyone in the joint heard leather. At halftime, partner asked me what I saw, and I told him. He then said "That's not what I saw..." But in the second half, I was lead and he was C and he called a similar call...but he couldn't have seen it since he was looking through the player's back. I had a clean block. Turnabout.

THINGS I DID WELL: Busted butt through to second wind, call selection was fine (only one or two I'd like back), eye contact.

THINGS TO WORK ON: Needed a second wind, might have overused talking technique

NEXT UP: Smallish school girls JV/Varsity tomorrow.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Game Log 12/5/2008: Sloppy doubleheader

Did a JV/Varsity girls doubleheader tonight with one of the absolute best officials in our association and a guy who's a little green. (It's kinda cool that I'm not the green one on the crew anymore.) Both games were sloppily played, but we were pretty spot on.

The JV game was awful--a blowout of immense proportions. The losing team didn't score in the second half, didn't score in double digits for the game, and wound up losing by 60. Not much to do in this one except try to stay in shape from the many, many turnovers. Can't remember a call in this one. Aggressive girls for the winning team went after the ball by mistake once in the fourth quarter, and when the ball went out of bounds, the coach said, quite forcefully, "Girls, get back! They got the ball, get back!" I thanked him for that.

The Varsity game was considerably closer. I won't say it was good, but it required some concentration because it was close late. My partner had a player control foul against White that was terribly unpopular with about 3 minutes left in a close game. A trip or two down the floor later, I was in the coach's hip pocket as C. A player started a drive. A defender for Blue stepped in right at the free throw line. Secondary defender...that's mine all the way. Collision. Player control.

Coach came absolutely unglued.

I said two things to him: "She was there, coach," and "That's enough, coach." But he was so pissed off from partner's call that he was quite demonstrative. No T necessary, though, for three reasons: 1. I was able to run down the floor on the rotation to get away from him. 2. It was the first I'd heard from him all night. 3. It was a tie game with two minutes left.

Experienced partner said that he was ready to T the coach up from behind me. I'm glad he didn't. He also said that I comported myself very well. I find it easy to comport myself very well when I'm 100% sure my call is right. So I'm pleased with how that went down.

The other coach became a little bit annoyed with me later in the game. His team slipped behind, and was in a situation where a strategic foul made sense. My instinct is to call one quick so it doesn't grow up into an intentional two-shots-and-the-ball foul. I called the first (light) contact. Coach called me over, and quite politely said this: "Could you not anticipate the foul? We're not planning to foul yet."

Fair enough.

Then, with 6 seconds left in a 4-point game, the same team did want to foul. The kid for the winning team caught the ball, and her defender put both forearms on her and pushed forward. It wasn't too hard, but it was enough to knock the kid back a good step. No effort to play the ball.

Intentional foul.

Yeah, I guess I could have called it a common foul, but the rulebook is on my side on this one. It's not the kind of thing where it was going to result in a fight or anything (though experienced partner said he thought the offensive player was a little upset). But if it was borderline, I'll go with the book rather than with "this is the way people usually call it."

Losing coach wasn't happy. After I explained it, all he said was "You haven't handled the end of the game well." I respectfully disagree. But the guy wasn't too bad.

So it's not a bad start.

THINGS I DID WELL: We did fashion police crap before both games, I comported myself well under pressure, made the right, gutsy calls late.

THINGS TO WORK ON: My legs felt like they were in molasses. I blew some weird switches, and went to bizarre places on free throws. I'll look forward to the day when three-man is my norm again.

NEXT UP: Monday. Another girls' JV/Varsity doubleheader.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Game Log 12/4/2008: Good start

Smooth freshman boys' game tonight between two local powerhouses (the varsity game featured extremely good refs and a big crowd). Partnered with a relative newbie, but the game was pretty smooth.

First quarter featured only a few fouls. None at all for four or five minutes, then about four called by me while my partner had none. (He got one in just before the buzzer.)

Things were uneventful...White pulling away from Green, up by about 15 at halftime. The White coach was a chirper, yakking all night long. About 80% of it was at players, and about 20% was at us, but about 100% went in one ear and out the other. I honestly had no idea what he was saying. It was simply the soundtrack. Never out of control, but never quiet either.

I then called a foul with about a minute left in the third. Shooting foul against Green. As I reported the foul, the Green coach, who had said nothing all night long, said this:

"You guys call the game! You guys call the game!"

I was terribly confused. I figured maybe he was talking to his players...some weird motivational thing...couldn't figure it out. So I walked away.

At the end of the third quarter, I figured out what it meant. He came out and was barking at my partner, claiming that we were letting the White coach's commentary influence our calls. We absolutely were NOT. At least I know that I was not. I didn't even know the guy was saying anything when I made literally any call in the first three quarters.

But the human mind, when it believes there is a pattern somewhere, will find evidence of it whether the pattern exists or not. I must find a psychological study which exemplifies that, because it's sure as hell true of spectators and officials. It was also true of some unknown guy--I think he was somehow school related and not a parent--who started chirping at me at that point. "Don't let that guy call the game for you!" He earned a Big Ignore, for being an uninvolved man and a very, very poor mind-reader.

As the guy walked away from my partner--just as I was arriving--he exited saying "That's bullsh..." I didn't hear the "it." He dropped his voice, I think, and turned away at the same time. So no T for him. Not sure my partner would have called it even with the added "it." I sure would have, but I heard "bullsh," and "bullsh" is not a T in my book, especially when I'm barely arriving on the scene and the word is thrown at my partner.

Anyway, my mind started playing tricks a little bit from there. I didn't want to call anything that the coach was saying. For the first time, I started hearing it, and I may have passed on a call or two because I heard him yammering about something. Nothing major, but it was in my head.

Then, a White player fouled out. "That's five, coach," I said to the coach. "That's five," I said to the player. I turned to the table. "Start the time, and give me a buzzer in five seconds."


"Buzzer in five seconds, please."

I count to six. "Hit the horn, please."

Scoreboard guy didn't know why, but he did.

"Coach, I need a sub."

"Why? I get 60 seconds."

"Nope you get 20."

And the mind-reader behind the bench--mind you, on the opposite team--agreed with the dude. "It's 60."

It has NEVER been 60 in my career! I don't even think it's 60 in the NBA, although I avoid knowing too much about NBA rules (they screw me up). It was 30 until last year, when it was reduced to 20.

I informed both it was 20.

I HATE that combination of incorrect and confident!

Anyway, about a minute later, White coach was chiriping about 3 seconds calls, even though shots were going up. This guy REALLY didn't know the rules! So I finally figured out the solution, and showed him my palm, saying "That's enough." I heard no more from him, and that ended the problem.

In a way, I should have done that earlier, but earlier, he hadn't been bugging me! He was only bugging me once the Green coach started incorrectly bitching that I was being swayed...and it was bugging me only because Green coach had brought the whole thing up. So, on the one hand, I may have rewarded Green's bitching be showing my palm to the White coach. But on the other hand, it solved multiple problems for me late in a 30-point blowout, so I can live with that.

So, while I was annoyed at rule-ignorant coaches who believed they knew what I was thinking, I still say the game went pretty well. There's very little I'd like back, and I can live with that.

THINGS I DID WELL: Handled angry coaches well, mechanics felt good, in position OK.
THINGS TO WORK ON: The pause between whistle and speaking was not there. I'm still saying stupid stuff.
NEXT UP: Good girls' varsity/JV doubleheader tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

And...we're on in three, two...

I lead off tomorrow. Freshman boys. Then girls' varsity/JV doubleheaders on Friday and Monday.

A quick review of my goals for this year:


My goal: There will always be discernible silence between the whistle and the call. A good way to do that might be to keep the whistle in my mouth. I'll put this in the foreground for camp.

Glad this is here, because my goal is always to get the whistle out of my mouth and start barking. No more. Discernible silence. That's a nice, measurable goal.


It's quite possible that my tendinitis comes in part from my miscalculation of more-or-less not working out for the first 37 years of my life. And my suspect running style probably didn't help my posterior tibialis tendon any. So, as soon as I get this damn boot off, I will get a personal trainer. I will actually run a little bit (not a lot...let's get real). I will develop some of those...whattayacallem...muscle groups. I will buy really good ref shoes. I'll put insoles in them to protect my ankles and knees. I will be in physical shape so that I, rather than a doctor, ends my season.

The national economy has prevented me from getting a personal trainer. And while I walked a good deal this offseason, I haven't run hardly at all until recently. I hope I can keep up with the kiddoes, especially since this looks to be a mix of (2-person) freshman games and (3-person) JV/Varsity games. I'll do ankle exercises especially. I did manage to buy the really good shoes, so that ought to make a significant difference right there.


I always thought I was solid on the rules, but I guess I wasn't. I'll hit the books this summer. I'll have it cold...even the damn fashion rules. I want to become The Rules Guy in the association...the guy people go to to ask stuff.

I think I'm better in the places where I used to be weak, which is to say Fashion Police and Which Ts Are Direct, Indirect, And All That. Before my first boys' game, I'll memorize the basket interference and goaltending rules.

Wish me luck! Game logs start tomorrow night.

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