Friday, November 9, 2007

Point of Emphasis?

I believe Andy Katz was at the Connecticut - Morgan State game on Wednesday night, because he devoted a large portion of Thursday's entry, "Full tourney may aid bubble teams", to some of the fine grain details of the game. I'm not going to wring my hands over the Huskies' near death experience at the hands of Todd Bozeman's Golden Bears, Jim Calhoun has a (still) young squad that continues to climb the steep side of the learning curve. They will get better. Katz penned an aside in his Final Nuggets section that caught my eye:

I saw Calhoun on the court quite often Wednesday night. He did get a few push back hand signals from the officials but never got a technical for the new rules dealing with the coaching box. You could argue these were inadvertent since Calhoun, like many other coaches, tends to wander. Still, when queried by an official about the use of profanity, Calhoun said he told the official that when you go to a boxing match, you expect to see blood. He added that someone who uses profanity probably doesn't have an expansive vocabulary. And then he took a shot at himself, and said he didn't obviously have one.
- Katz, 11/08/07

I thought the interaction between Coach Calhoun & those game officials (the crew, according to the ESPN box score included Alan Spainhour, Gary Maxwell & Freddie Williams) was quite considerate, but according to the new protocol, completely unwarranted. The officials are not supposed to warn first, the technical, according to Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese (from this NYT Big East Media Day article, "Big East Coaches Are Told to Behave Themselves") is supposed to be automatic. Coach steps out, coach gets a T. In a very unscientific poll over at Villanova's (Rivals) message board Big East fans indicated Coach Calhoun was second most likely (after Seton Hall's Bobby Gonzalez) of the Big East Coaching Collegium, to draw the most technicals this season. Two games (I checked last night's box, Stanley Robinson and Jerome Dyson drew Ts, I assume from hanging on the rim...) and no technicals (but a few brush backs...), I wondered if anyone was getting called, so I decided to check the boxes from all of the games this week.

If the 14 games played Monday through last night are any indication, it is business as usual in D1 basketball. Or else the coaches have become miraculously well behaved in the off season. There have been six technicals called in the 14 games, curiously 4 of them in 2 games (both played in Storrs Regional). Maybe Sean Hull and Brian Dorsey are the only referees who read their mail (or the New York Times...). They worked in the Storrs crew(s) that handed out 2 technicals to the Husky players mentioned earlier and another 2 Ts to those notorious D1 bad boys, the Fighting Scots of Ohio Valley University (oh wait, OVU is a DII school...). Those 4 points off of technicals provided the Bulls of Buffalo University with more than ½ of their margin of victory over the Fighting Scots. Of the other technicals, 1 was given to the Denver Pioneer coach in their game with East Central (Oklahoma?). Denver squeaked by with a 76 - 75 win. And the last technical was assessed to a Kentucky Wildcat, Ramel Bradley, in their opener against Central Arkansas. Wrong team member, wrong game (Coach Gillispie...when your team is being pantsed in your own house in front of 19,000+ fans, it's ok to throw a chair, meltdown in front of an official, or give any public demonstration that you object to how things are going...).

Like the flurry of upsets (exhibition and the ones that count...), it is too early to draw conclusions about this year's Point of Emphasis. I suspect game tapes will be reviewed and phone calls made. And next week may well bring a spike in the number of technicals called on the TEAM/BENCH. Or not. I am interested to see how this will unfold going forward, because unlike The Point of Emphasis last season, (palming the ball & other dribbling techniques which give advantage to the ball handler), this one involves how people who have worked with each other going back (in many cases) decades, will interact this year and in the years after The Point of Emphasis changes. Palming point guards will go to the league in a year or two and be able to palm again. D1 coaches and those zebra crews will have to work together even after the NCAA officials decide to emphasize something else.

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