By ray lutz

The score board is your friend.

It has the game clock on it.

If you get in the habit of looking at the game clock every time it should have started or should have stopped you eventually will become a hero to your crew mates.

Checking the game clock is certainly more important if you are not the official who sounded the whistle. That official has other things to do immediately after sounding the whistle. You, the non covering official, are the one who has a better opportunity to take just a split second to make sure the clock has stopped on the whistle. Get into this habit!

As a person who watches a lot of high school basketball it is surprising to me how often the clock doesn’t stop when it should. It is also surprising to me how often officials are not aware that the clock did not stop when it should have.

Checking the clock to see if it stopped is only half of the challenge for basketball officials. The other half of the challenge is to make sure that the clock starts when it should. In this situation it is probably the administering official who should have primary responsibility to see that the clock has started when it should have.

Most of the time the clock starts after it is legally touched on a throw in. However, the clock also needs to start after the toss to start the game or to start the overtime period. One of the most overlooked times to see if the clock starts is on a missed free throw. More than occasionally the timer forgets to start the clock on a missed free throw.

In watching over two hundred high school and collegiate games this season I have see a vast array of clock mistakes. I have seen the game start without anytime showing on the clock. I have seen the ball tossed, tapped and possessed and a score made without the clock starting at the beginning of the game. Several times I have seen a throw in legally touched and the clock not start. I even saw a throw in go out of bounds untouched. The timer started the clock when the ball went out of bounds. Several seconds ran off the clock before the timer caught the mistake himself.

For some reason another time that is ripe for the timer forgetting to start the clock is after a time out. Just as officials should never assume that both teams are going to return to play after a time out with five players, (They often return with six players.) they should not assume that the timer is going to start the clock on the throw in.

Timing mistakes in the first quarter often do not take on the importance as do timing mistakes in a closely contested game late in the fourth quarter. Be extra vigilant in a close game late in the fourth quarter to what is happening with the clock. Timing errors here are magnified.

Check Rule 5-8 and 5-9 for rules regarding timing errors and how to administer them.

ART. 1
The referee may correct an obvious mistake by the timer to start or stop the clock properly only when he/she has definite information relative to the time involved. The exact time observed by the official may be placed on the clock.
ART. 2
If the referee determines that the clock malfunctioned or was not started/stopped properly, or if the clock did not run, an official’s count or other official information may be used to make a correction.

The score is tied with two seconds remaining in the game. A1 is awarded a bonus free throw. After the ball had been placed at the disposal of A1, B1 disconcerts A1. The free-throw attempt is missed. The timer does not hear the official’s whistle sound and permits the clock to start. May the referee put the two seconds back on the clock?

RULING: Yes. The rules provide “…the referee may correct the mistake when he/she has definite information relative to time involved.” The referee not only orders the timer to put two seconds back on the clock but also awards A1 a substitute throw for the disconcertion by B1.

There are six seconds left on the clock in the fourth quarter and the ball is out of bounds in the possession of Team A. The throw-in by A1 ­touches the referee on the court and then goes across the court and out of bounds. The timer permits two seconds to run off the clock. What recourse does the coach of either team have in such situation?

RULING: Either coach may step to the scorer’s table and request a 60-second time-out and have the referee come to the table. The coach is permitted to do this under provisions of the coach’s rule. The referee shall come to the sideline and confer with one or both coaches and the timer about the matter; and if the referee has definite ­knowledge that there were six seconds on the clock when the ball was awarded to Team A for the throw-in, it is the responsibility of the referee to have the two seconds put back on the clock. The timer and scorer and the other official(s) can be used by the ­referee to gain definite information. If there is no mistake or if it cannot be ­rectified, the requesting team will be charged with a 60-second ­time-out. (5-11-4 Exception b; 5-8-4; 10-5-1c)

Team A scores a goal to lead by four points with 10 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Team B then quickly scores with approximately five seconds remaining; now trailing by two points. Team A expects to withhold the ball out of bounds for the throw-in with the time remaining (less than five seconds). The timer mistakenly stops the clock shortly following the Team B goal; the game clock reads 4.0 seconds remaining. The official sounds the whistle, (a) immediately to address the timing mistake; (b) after reaching a throw-in count of three to address the timing mistake; or (c) upon reaching a five-second throw-in count on Team A.

RULING: In (a) and (b), Team A will have a throw-in from anywhere along the end line with (a) no change to the game clock; and (b) the game clock corrected to display 1.0 seconds. In (c), the game is over as time has expired.
COMMENT: An official’s count may be used to correct a timing mistake. (5-10-2)

Following a violation in the fourth quarter, there are five seconds on the clock as A1 is bounced the ball for a throw-in. The throw-in is completed to A2. The official properly signals the clock to start and immediately begins a ­closely-guarded count on A2. The official reaches a count of three seconds when B1 fouls A2. The official stops play properly and reports the foul at the table. The timer reports that he/she did not start the clock when the throw-in was touched by A2. The clock still shows five seconds.

RULING: The referee will order the clock set at two seconds. The referee has definite knowledge of the amount of time involved in this situation by using the closely-guarded count.

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