PROVO — The West Coast Conference held an administrative clinic for officiating in the league’s opening night of play in the Bay Area of California, a sanctuary state for referees to advance their craft.
There were presentations of emphasis in the clinic. The focus was on what constitutes ball screens, moving screens, patio screens and yard-compost-soil screens.
The Pacific and BYU basketball teams were both invited, along with their respective fans, to witness the event, complete with scoreboards, cheerleaders, team managers, coaches and medical personnel. It featured 60 fouls, teaching moments, of course.
The venue was Stockton, a part of the Central California Valley near the San Joaquin River, where Kurt Sutter and FX set their famous TV series “The Sons of Anarchy” starring Charlie Hunnam. It’s a story about a murderous motorcycle gang whose trade was drugs and arms, set in the fictional town of Charming, a place that could use some uncorrupted officials.
It was a fine clinic. There were replays, excursions to the scorer's table for reviews, TV timeouts.
Said TJ Haws, who led BYU in scoring with 24 points, “It was one of those games where you really have to stay mentally in it because (there were) a lot of foul calls. The game stops and starts frequently and so you really have to stay strong mentally and put the refs out of the game, out of your head, and just play tough on defense and do what we do on offense.
"I thought at moments we did that tonight and there were moments when we got caught up a little bit in the refs. But overall, I thought we did a really good job."
Clinicians were keen to divide the 60 fouls almost evenly between the two squads. BYU, the visitors had 31, and Pacific a tidy 29.
It was also so for participants on the court who fouled out. Pacific lost reserve Jahlil Tripp and BYU lost star Yoeli Childs. The foul-out call on Childs was for an illegal —you got it — screen, set for Haws with just over three minutes remaining.
It is also worth noting that players with four fouls were perfectly distributed on each team. Pacific’s Roberto Gallinat, who had a gallant second half, Jeremiah Bailey and a really tall guy with a Scottish surname, Zach Cameron each had four.
For the Cougars, freshman Connor Harding, foul master Luke Worthington and Nick Emery all had four. The fourth on Emery was a marvel of the law of physics, time and space, as the embattled Cougar was almost in the parking lot when whistled for fouling a 3-point shooter.
This game was so entertaining, at one timeout, ESPNU play-by-play announcer Steve Quis made a very astute observation very late in the clinic when either team had a chance to win and possessions were dear. Looking at the half-filled stands and gauging the decibel level of sound created he said, “This is an incredible college basketball atmosphere right now. The BYU fan base behind us chimed in, ‘Here we go BYU, here we go,’ and Pacific just started booing them. So now it’s like high school cheerleaders trying to outduel each other.”
It was dramatic at the Spanos Center for sure. Like the fouls called, it was 50-50 with the number of BYU and Pacific fans, a fine gathering indeed.
The intense session was enhanced by the numerous reactions to fouls by players on the court, from Childs, Cameron and Emery. After a second charge call on Tripp on a drive against Emery, Tripp was astounded. He put both fists to his eyes as if he wanted to rip the image out of his head. When Childs went out on his fifth, he looked like he’d just seen an alien he was so surprised.
This clinic was so intriguing with so many opportunities to learn, teach and understand the game properly as players, coaches and fans, that after a breakdown of the Tripp/Emery charge and how it could have gone either way, Quis reminded his audience that officials that work these games do a masterful job in real time and it was almost unfair for the rest of us to judge with the aid of slow-motion replays.
Of course, he was correct. When things are happening in real time, in the blaze of motion and movement, it is remarkable how talented the officials are at determining what happens and what rules apply as a result.23 comments on this story
After everything was said and done, this clinic was decided by calls, non-calls and shots made at the free-throw line. Cameron missed part of a two-shot trip to the line and BYU’s Jahshire Hardnett and Emery buried four in a row with the clock stopped, something the Cougars have struggled doing all season with games on the line.
As Haws said, this was a game that required brain cells to survive and keep at work. That’s a positive.
So, in this regard, this clinic in Stockton was a tremendous exercise for all involved, an opportunity to learn, to grow, to mature and to understand.
If everyone doesn’t know what a moving screen is by now, you simply were not paying attention.
Repent, or we’ll need to repeat it all as the weeks unfold.