Monday, January 12, 2009

Game Log 1/12/09: A mistake I won't be making again

Sometimes this blog feels like a confessional booth. One who reads this would probably think that I'm not a very good ref. I hope that my continued upwardly-mobile varsity assignments would counter that. But if I'm gonna do this, I've got to do it warts and all. And I learn a lot more posting warts than posting airbrushed-centerfold games.

Boys' freshman game tonight. Quick kids--challenging game. I actually think that all the girls' varsity I've done this year has been bad for my boys' games. Last year, before they started giving me varsity, I went back and forth between boys' and girls' freshman games most of the year. This year, this is only my third boys' game. I think that my brain and my demeanor are a little different...I'm less confident than I should be.

Nonetheless, the game went fairly routinely, except that there was a bit of a foul disparity in the first half. Blue had a bit more than White. Wasn't a huge deal. Blue didn't care for one or two calls, and I explained them. Blue players and fans got a little bitchy. I dealt.

It was close late. I felt like we were adjusting well to the game (my first call of the game was a good blocking call). I wasn't 100% comfortable with my partner, not because he was bad, but because he seldom made eye contact with me. But hey, nobody's perfect. Calls felt good. Partner was supportive. And then Blue trailed by 3 points with 40 seconds left.

Strategic fouling time. I told myself to get the first one.

They called time out. White inbounded the ball. A few passes, and then I got the first one, a little touch foul.

The place erupted: players, coach, fans.

Damn. They weren't fouling.

I went over to the angry coach and told him the only thing I could possibly tell him--the truth. "Coach, I thought you were fouling. If you weren't, I shouldn't have called that, and I blew it."

Blue coach said "OK." Class act.

As it turned out, I did Blue a favor, since White missed both free throws. Blue had several shots to either tie or bring it to within one. They missed four shots (getting every rebound) before time expired.

OK. Now the kicking-of-self will go on until my next game. If you wipe away this late mistake, the calls were OK, but I felt timid, sort of like it's my first year all over again (which, for boys' ball, isn't far off). I'll get a chance to go back into the fire again on Wednesday, when I do a JV boys' game which includes one of the better programs in the area (in other words, a really fast, challenging game for me). I'll get that one right.

I simply won't coach anymore. I'll be aware of what could happen in a situation, but I won't anticipate it and take the move out of the coach's hands. If I won't call it as a normal foul, I won't call it as a strategic foul.

Seems like such a stupid thing to have to learn. There shouldn't have been a first time for this mistake--although I can hardly be the first one. Or, more likely, there are others who make the mistake the other way around...don't call the first strategic foul, so the second winds up being ugly or violent.

Maybe I just got too amped up late.

In any event, I'm looking forward to getting back out there so that I can get this damn thing out of my craw.

Oh. My partner stuck around on the floor after the game (NOT what I want to do), so I wound up getting back to the locker room alone. It was locked. So I had to walk back out into the hall to get the key. Much to my surprise, a guy said "Good game, stripes." (Of course, another called me horrible just as I passed. I elected not to turn around...)

THINGS I DID WELL: Actually pretty consistent on foul calls, wasn't beat more than once
THINGS TO WORK ON: Don't anticipate strategic foul, get brain going faster, project less timidity
NEXT UP: Boys' JV, big schools, on Wednesday (with no attached varsity game...interesting).


At 5:16 AM, Blogger Joe said...

One who reads this would probably think that I'm not a very good ref.

I doubt that. I read this, despite the fact that I have virtually no knowledge of the rules of basketball, because you set a good example:

1) Review your performance.
2) Identify what you did wrong.
3) Decide how to get it right next time.
4) Be proud of what you did right this time.

I'd submit that, in any endeavor I've seen, the difference between mediocre and good involves a lot of Step 3.

The difference between good and great may involve a Step 3a - then, having a plan, move on. This is the step I'm really bad at.

At 6:08 AM, Anonymous Massref said...

I simply won't coach anymore. I'll be aware of what could happen in a situation, but I won't anticipate it and take the move out of the coach's hands.

I think that's the right mentality. Anticipate the situation, but not the call. If you're ready for it, you're more likely to see it. But don't jump the gun and call it before you see it. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

If I won't call it as a normal foul, I won't call it as a strategic foul.

I'm not quite as sure that you've got this right. If you KNOW that the team with the lead is willing to take the foul, then I would not wait for an advantage to be gained; I would call the first minor contact.

This would be a situation like when the best FT shooter is simply standing near midcourt, protecting the ball, but not even attempting to avoid the defense. In that case, as soon as the defender put a pinkie on the ballhandler, I would take the foul.

(It's never going to be JUST a pinkie, but I hope you understand what I mean.)

On the other hand, if the team with the lead is playing keep-away, then it's clear they want the clock to run and I think you have to make sure that they actually get fouled (disadvantaged) before you call a foul. They don't want the clock to stop, so I'm not going to stop it just to do a favor for the other team.


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