Sunday, January 23, 2011

Taking Off My Referee Hat For A Moment........

Yesterday, I blogged about a very competitive game I officiated:

Never Judge A Game By It's Cover

Tonight, I am going to take off my referee hat and offer a different perspective.  Why?  Well, for people don't officiate basketball, they don't understand that officials are fans of basketball too.  We're not robots or some evil people that want to make one team or another team lose intentionally.

So tonight, instead of my officiating hat, I will put on my player and coaches hat instead.  I've played 19 years of adult league basketball and have a good understanding of what a player thinks while on the court.  I also coached CYO basketball for 14 years and have a good feel of the strategy and tactics that are involved during a game.

A brief recap of the game last night:  home team (2-10 overall) is playing the visiting team (11-5 overall) in a rivalry game.  In checking the stats online tonight, the home team throughly outplays the visiting team for the first three quarters and holds an 11 point lead entering the fourth quarter.  The visiting team doesn't give up and outscores the home team 27-10 in the fourth to win by 6 points.


As a player, I know that when you're the underdog team, you want to get in the first punch against a superior team.   The underdog team wants respect so they will come out hard and try to impose their will on the superior and more talented team early.  Think about the Warriors and some of their games against the Lakers and the Heat.  The Warriors came out like gang busters on a few occasions.

On the flip side, the superior and more talented team has likely been through these situations before.   They have confidence that no matter the situation, they always have a chance to win.  Sometimes, the superior team has to fight complacency.   They can't always let an underdog team take leads and expect to come back.   Think about the Lakers and Heat games against the Warriors.  The Warriors play well early and the Lakers / Heat played well late to win.  But the Lakers and Heat sometime falter and let a weaker team win (think Clippers games).

That was the key difference I saw between the home and visiting teams last night.  The visiting team had won a good number of games this season and had confidence that could execute down the stretch.  On the other hand, the home team faltered late as the visiting team turned up the pressure.

For both coaches, I'm sure there were some frustrations and things to be learned.  Let's jump into the coaches perspective next.


While I know the visiting coach from officiating his team's games during spring league, I have not seen him much during high school seasons.  For the home team, I did not know the coach at all.

The visiting team coach is fairly laid back though he rode his kids pretty hard when they fell behind.   On the other hand, the home team coach is intense and emotional.  She was thrilled when her team was winning but started to yell at the officials when the home team started to make their rally.  I think her players responded to her intensity.   One thing I won't comment is on both coaches tactical ability.  I don't remember that much of the game to judge their X's and O's.

From a coaches perspective, last night's game was lost when the visiting team made their rally.  The visitors went on a 10-0 run which I believed turned a 6 point deficit into a 4 point lead.  My partner and I were surprised that the home team coach DID NOT call a timeout during the run to try and break the momentum.

To me, that indicated some inexperience on the part of the coach.  No matter if you're a player, referee and especially if you're a coach, you should be aware of the flow of the game.   As referees, the flow of the game is important because we need to be aware of taking care of situations.  As a player, you should be aware of the flow (especially if the flow is not good for your team) and settle the team down if needed.   That's why a good point guard is very important for any team.

However,  out of all the parties, only the coach has the full power to completely stop the flow of the game by calling a timeout.  Yes, one can argue that players can call timeouts as well but it's usually when coaches tell them to call it.

For the game last night, I think the home team players did the best they could to keep the game from going out of control.   However, when the visiting team made their run, it was obvious the home team players were rattled.  Unfortunately, the coach did not call timeout until they fell behind and that hurt their chances.

Note that is is not meant to criticize the home team coach.   I used to be a screamer and yeller in my early years as a CYO coach.  Unfortunately, that only takes you so far.  The home team players seem to respect their coach and she seemed to be able to make adjustments.  Hopefully, the home team coach can learn to channel her energy but also be more aware of game situations.

All in all, it was a great game.  I hope the players and coaches enjoyed it as much as I did.   Yet, there were some lessons to be learned and I hope both teams learned their lessons well for the rest of the season.

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