‘Tis the season for fouls so far in Maine high school basketball.
More fouls are being called in games. A total of 76 fouls were called at one game during the opening weekend. Ninety foul shots were attempted in that game.
Here are five reasons why more fouls are being called:
1. The NBA started to become more physical as the players and game became more athletic as the years progressed. Division I college games followed suit. Then the high school game followed the college game.
2. Because so many of the NBA and DI games are on TV, many fans, parents, players, coaches and refs think that is the way the game should be played at the high school level. Since the NBA has tightened up its game, DI has done the same this season and high school is following suit.
3. Calling more fouls has been declared a point of emphasis this season in the National Federation Rulebook.
Basketball by rule is supposed to be a game of skill and finesse. It is a contact game not a collision game. If coaches did not teach holding, grabbing, pushing, handchecking, arm barring, and blocking cutters, then there would be no need for more whistles.
This type of play has to do with physical intimidation which does not belong in high school athletics. Coaches who teach their players to intentionally break a rule to gain an advantage need to be penalized with foul calls.
4. Some high school coaches aspire to be DI college coaches and want their teams to play like DI teams.
When I was coaching, my teams were considered finesse teams and when we faced physical teams that tried to intimidate us we never retaliated. However, we had several tricks that worked against such tactics.
There is no question that a physical team has an advantage over a finesse team if contact is not called.
As a coach I loved the game being called tight. We played defense to commit less than six personal fouls per half, keeping our opponents off the line. We emphasized moving our feet not reaching. Our offense was slow enough so that fouls were easier to be seen and called, giving us an advantage on the number of foul shots taken.
When tourney time came we knew that the games would be called tighter than the regular season games as our scorebooks over the years indicated
Regardless of how the officials call the game, it is the coaches and players who must adjust to the way the game is being called.
5. Officials must understand advantage and disadvantage which is very hard to learn from a book or a lecture. It is easier to learn by watching games and game films, so that officials can be shown what is an advantage and disadvantage. This is not being done.
Once coaches and players adjust there will be less fouls called. Don’t blame the officials, blame the coaches who teach their players to intentionally break the rules to gain an advantage.