High school basketball tourney games are being held on 94-foot college courts on three of the four sites for the first time in recent memory and Augusta will become the fourth site next season.
The courts are at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, the Portland Expo and the Cumberland County Civic Center.
The extra 10 feet can affect the high school tournament games in several ways.
A profound way it can affect games is the extra time it takes a player to cross half-court. This is probably mostly unnoticeable to players, coaches, officials and fans
The additional 10 feet, five in the area on both sides of the court, usually means an extra one second to dribble the additional distance. That is without man-to-man pressure being applied, which can add another second.
If there are 120 offensive possessions in a game, then dribbling the additional 10 feet will take 120 seconds, which is two minutes that is not wasted on high school 84-foot courts.
High school players will encounter several other ways in which the longer courts will affect their tourney games.
— Physical conditioning will be a factor as the players will have to cover an additional 10 feet every time they go up and down the court..
— More fatigue can lead to more missed shots late in the game, more fouls and turnovers.
— It will be more difficult to run an effective full-court pressure defense as teams have to cover an additional 500 square feet. This makes any type of full-court zone pressure less effective and may force teams to play more man-to-man full- or half-court presses.
— The additional five feet in each backcourt could cause more 10-second violations in the backcourt.
— Teams that use the fast break and force an up-tempo game may do it less because of having to cover more distance.
I remember a state championship game played on a college court, which definitely affected the game’s outcome.
Both teams were evenly matched, but one prepared for the longer court and doing so changed the game’s outcome. That team practiced on college courts all week and during the game the team’s players got the ball up the court as fast as they could on each possession, which they did not do in previous games. This forced the other team, which wasn’t prepared for the extra 10 feet, to get back more quickly on defense.
If the better-prepared team did not get a layup off the fast break, then they set up their half-court offense.
By halftime, that team had a five-point lead while the other team was tired and in foul trouble.
The tired team attempted to full-court press in the second half, but it was ineffective because of fatigue from playing on the longer court.
What should have been a close game turned out to be a 20-point difference.
Because prelim games were played on high school courts on Tuesday and Wednesday, Class B teams, unless they got a bye in the prelims, had only two or three days to get ready for the longer floors.
Other than the three tourney sites, usually only colleges have 94-foot courts, so Class C and D teams that play quarterfinals on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday could gain an advantage if they were able to get some practice time on a college court.
If teams cannot get on a college court, then they should run additional sprints in practice to get in better physical condition that will help them cover the additional 10 feet they will be covering with every trip up and down the court during a tourney game.
The extra preparation could lead to a gold ball.