Kentucky’s high school basketball season got started on Monday and several of our local teams will begin play this evening. One thing to watch for early in the season is how strict the officials are going to be in calling fouls for hand-checking on ball-handlers as well as players in the post using their hands to fight for position under the basket.
Those are two major points of emphasis that have been passed down to the referees in the state and based on how the preseason scrimmages were called, the officials are taking that instruction to heart.
There were nearly 75 fouls called in the Pineville-Harlan County boys scrimmage last Monday and on Tuesday the Bell County Lady Cats, who are known for a physical full court press, were affected by a few early calls in their scrimmage with Lynn Camp.
“We haven’t really made a whole lot of adjustments for that, it’s probably something we should have with the way they’re calling the ballgames. The kids will just have learn and adjust quickly or they’ll be sitting,” Lady Cat coach David Teague said. “It’s going to affect us and other teams as well. We still want to put a lot of pressure on people, but we have to be smart about it. The kid just have to move their feet.”
The boys’ coaches in the county all agree that the new rules enforcement can do what it’s intended to do — create a more flowing offensive game — as long as it’s done consistently.
“If they’ll call it consistently throughout the region then I’m alright with it. I think anytime you’re consistent you’re going to be fine. But if they’re calling it one way at Pineville and another way in a different region or a different district that’s where you run into some problems,” Middlesboro coach Russell Thompson said. “You can’t go to Corbin and have to play one way and them come to Pineville or Harlan County and have to play different. The referees just have to make sure they’re calling it the same way no matter what team they’re reffing. If they can do that, then these kids can learn to play how they want them to. Last year, I didn’t feel like they were consistent with it.”
Pineville coach J.D. Strange said the rule is nothing new and just needs to be administered with common sense.
“Every year there’s always a certain point of emphasis. This year you’ve got hand-checking and how you play defense in the post. A lot of times they start out enforcing it early and then they get slack. We’ll just see how it goes,” he said. “There’s not many things you can do to the game of basketball, sometimes we make it too complicated. You’ve got to understand what a foul is — sometimes a little flick on the wrist is a foul on the shooter and sometimes a guy trying to block out with a little body-to-body contact is no harm. You’ve got to know the game in order to officiate it.”
Bell County coach Lewis Morris, whose teams are known for they’re physical brand of defense, went so far to say that how teams adjust to the rules could determine who is cutting down the nets in February and March.
“It’s going to come down to how much we’ve learned with the new rules and how everyone adjusts to that,” he said. “Hopefully we can adjust to it. It’s going to be different. If they call it both ways then it’s going to be fair.”