In case you haven’t checked the calendar lately, it is February.
February is historically the most difficult month in which to officiate basketball.
Early February is the time when some coaches and players begin to feel their season slip away. What started out so promising, they now see going down the drain. That results in frustrated coaches, players and followers. They often become difficult to officiate for.
Other teams still find themselves in the hunt for league honors and good seeding for the upcoming play-off season. Each of their remaining games take on more importance. Coaches, players and fans often get really hyped up which puts additional pressure on each and every call yet to be made.
Both the above scenarios have in the past lead to some ugly situations and confrontations. Fights and ejections are much more prevalent in February than either December or January. I have heard of three fights already this February and two coach ejections. Many times these confrontations, fights and the frustration come out of no where.
So, for basketball officials the lesson learned here is to really be on our toes throughout the entire month. Work harder, get better angles, communicate more, be a better dead ball official. Set a goal to know which players are getting frustrated and really be aware of any talk between players. “Hard” fouls can cause retaliation. Taunting an opponent has no place any month in basketball but certainly not in February. It can cause a grass fire pretty dog gone quickly.
In February it may be better to call the game a tad tighter than a tad looser. I am not advocating changing the way you have been calling illegal contact all year. Just keep in mind that illegal contact in February can cause a lot more trouble than in the other two month of the season.
Over the years I have had way, way fewer coaches and administrators complain about officials calling the game to tightly than I have had about calling the game too loosely. No administrator wants a fight at his school. No administrator wants to have to deal with an ejection or any ugly incident.
While were at it take time to review Rule: 10-6-11 and pay particular attention to the penalty review. Know the difference in the penalties for players who come off the bench and participate in a fight versus players who come off the bench and do not participate.
It is February! STRAP IT ON!