Volume 3.................................................................December 2000

Welcome from The Editor
Late November and early December means the arrival of the basketball season is near. The time to compete (except girl's high school in Virginia, North Dakota, South Dakota, Michigan, and Montana who play basketball in the fall ) is finally here. Let the games begin! Your physical preparation and mental study will soon be put to the test (October Newsletter). The scrimmages you worked have offered the opportunity to sharpen your play recall , your signals and your floor mechanics (November Newsletter). Hopefully you are ready to hit the hardwood and DO THE WORK.

The Technical Foul and the Smile

This is a true story.

Here is the end of the story.

It was early in the third period of a recent basketball game when the coach of team A began to “chirp” loudly about contact caused by Team B on several plays. It seemed inevitable that a technical foul would soon have to be assessed. On the next play where there was some contact and no call , a technical foul was assessed to the coach of Team A . As the referees walked to the far end of the gym to shoot the free throws for the technical foul there was a smile of satisfaction on the face of Team A’s coach.

And here is the beginning of the story.

With six second remaining in the second period player A-3 received an outlet pass off of a rebound. Player A-3 started a dribble, and was knocked to the floor by player B-3 in the back court at the free throw line extended with 1.6 seconds on the clock. Team A would have been awarded a 1 and 1 free throw for the foul, however, there was no whistle on the play and time expired ending the period.
During the halftime and prior to the beginning of the 3rd period, the coach asked the referees in a non-confrontational manner about the play, and here is the dialogue that took place in that meeting.

Coach: Do you remember the play just before the half when….
Referee 1: (interrupting and arrogant),“oh yeah, you mean when the player got fouled? Well, I saw the foul but didn’t call it because time was running out and I wasn’t going to walk all the way down there (pointing to the far end of the gym) just to shoot the free throws with time running out.”

Now that explains coach A’s satisfied smile as he watched the walk to the far end of the gym.

There are lessons to be learned from this story. Here are a few.

Referees are expected to manage the game from the time they arrive on the court until the game has ended with an approved final score. That includes all plays during the game. The message to A-3 could be that knock-downs (rough play)are going to be allowed in this game. And, what if A-3 decides to retaliate against B-3? If you see a foul you have a responsibility to call the foul.

There is no section in the rules that give the referees a different set of guidelines to officiate the game differently at the end of periods. A player that is held, blocked, pushed, or hit has been fouled. A referee should not make a player become a SUPERPERSON who has to perform a superhuman feat (have to absorb greater contact) in order to finish off a play at the end of the period. Don’t close your eyes to illegal contact at the end of a period. A player attempting to score at the end of a period should have the same opportunity to score and under the same conditions that existed at any other time of the game. By the way, this also applies to a defender who has established a legal guarding position and is then run over by an offensive player. Ask yourself if you are guilty of treating contact at the end of a period differently, and if so why? Keep in mind that points scored at the end of early periods DO factor into the final outcome. Remember that all points throughout the game add up to a final total in the end.

A referee should understand and have player empathy (feel). Scoring is FUN. Players like to score, parents and friends like to see the scoring. A fouled player should be given the opportunity to shoot the merited penalty. Player A-3 may not have scored a point in the game (or in the last two games, or in the last week, or in the last month) and really should not have been deprived of the opportunity to shoot the merited free throws. Period ending situations ARE important which is why coaches usually get the ball to their BEST PLAYERS in order to have a good opportunity to score.

CHOOSE YOUR WORDS WISELY. In the story the answer the referee gave to the coach did nothing to make the situation anything but worse. A better response to the situation in question would have been,” Coach, I didn’t put air in the whistle on that play and I realize that it was a mistake on my part not to have done so”.

  Topic of the Month


You have an obligation to PROPERLY PREPARE yourself to do the job to the best of your ability for each and every assignment that you accept. Be prepared mentally and physically to DO THE WORK.

You have an obligation to the “game” itself. Understand the contribution you make to the basketball community. The constant you should have is that the game you are about to referee should always be approached as the most important basketball game of your life. Be assured that the players, coaches, and schools participating in the game deem it as important. Don’t make a particular game greater or lesser than other game assignments. Each game needs the best officiating effort that you can offer. Your mentality should be effort/reward for quality service, and not time/pay check received.

You have an obligation to protect the integrity of the game. See the play, make the decision (whistle or no whistle). Call the game within the context of the rules. The winner of the game should be the team that utilized the best skills and played the best basketball in that game. It should not be based on who was the strongest or most physical team.


Too often I hear officials speak of, or hang calls on “a philosophy” that they either have or heard. BEWARE of philosophy. There are a lot of philosophical thoughts out there and all with varying degrees of differences. Philosophies float around in a very gray area (which leads to inconsistency), and play calling and game management should be interpreted in a more defined black and white area. A good referee will rely on the tools (the basics) that give a sequence for the task at hand in preparing and working each game. Here are a few basics to follow:

Have a meaningful pre-game conference. BE MENTALLY PREPARED TO MANAGE THE GAME.

Move for and with a purpose. THERE ARE NO MAGIC SPOTS ON THE FLOOR.

Relocate to get good angles in order to see the play. REFEREE THE DEFENSE.

Call the obvious. Officiate post play, hand checking, screening, cutters, and shooters in the context of the written rules. THEY WILL PLAY AS YOU ALLOW THEM TO PLAY.


Referee the game from the beginning to the end with a high level of concentration. THE CREW SHOULD SET THE TEMPO OF THE GAME. THE GAME SHOULD BE FREE FLOWING, AND NOT TERRITORIAL. Athletic ability within the rules should determine the outcome of the game, not brute strength.

Referee your primary, ASSIST in secondary areas. DON’T BE A BALL WATCHER.

Communicate with your partners, the players and the coaches WHEN NECESSARY. Communication when needed is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of humanity.

 Life Tip for the Month
Eat to live, don’t live to eat. Your physical appearance is a correlation of what you consume. Use discipline with your choices in diet and nutrition decisions. Now is the time (before the holiday season) to set some standards for your nutrition. The mirrors in your house aren’t just for you to use when shaving or putting on make-up (and working on your basketball signals). Stand before a full length mirror and take inventory. Your image should fit vertically and horizontally in the mirror. Evaluate honestly what you see. Self assess on whether the image looking back at you is the best that you can be. Healthy living is a choice too. Please choose wisely.

Question of the Month

Each summer I am required (expected) to go to the camp which is run by my collegiate supervisor if I am to be eligible for assignments in that conference. What do feel about that? Name withheld by request.

It is my hope that a request to return to camp by a supervisor would include the supervisor’s interest in your improvement as a referee. This is not a request that in and of itself lacks merit. At least not the first request to return to the camp. This also is assuming the supervisor provides hands-on guidance at the camp to insure that you leave with an improved package by the end of the camp. I do not believe any situation where a supervisor “expects” a staff member to continue to attend their camp or not receive assignments is at all healthy or would be condoned by the governing body.

All supervisors need to be sensitive to and consider a few realities:

Most referees do not have the finances to attend multiple camps each summer without hardship. Attending a camp means taking time off from work and incurring some degree of personal financial sacrifice. There are not many referees that can take off an unlimited number of days in order to attend several camps. (By the way, your vacation days should be used for your vacation). Check out the dictionary for the definition of vacation.

A referee that attends any quality camp should be encouraged rather than penalized with that attendance. For example, if referee A is a member of Conference A, and that referee wants to attend a camp held by Supervisor B, that referee should NOT BE PENALIZED for attending Supervisor B’s camp.

If the requirement to mandate attendance has anything to do with an agreement the supervisor has made with a basketball camp to provide referees, and the referees are really serving as a primary function of that agreement, then that is wrong !

I would suggest that any referee that feels exploited by this “rule” should feel comfortable in writing a letter requesting a meeting and then having a discussion with the supervisor about the situation. You either have the ability to be in the conference or you shouldn’t have been added to the staff. As a member of the staff you should have had opportunities to show your ability (got some games). If you received no assignments it would not be rational for a supervisor to require you to come back to camp to remain on staff . If you had games in the conference you should have some type of evaluations that should show specifics on your performance. That indicator would be the topic of your conversation with your supervisor

If you have a question you would like to submit for the January issue, visit and put the qustion on the community board or just CLICK HERE to submit your question now.

 Guest Spot

Scott Foster, National Basketball Association Referee

Preparing and Presenting the Pre-Game Conference

Often when working early in my career there were two types of pre-games that I endured. The first was no pre-game and the second was when the appointed referee in charge would pull out a card that was supplied by the conference and read through it. Now I’m not saying you should throw that card away. I am suggesting however, that it not be used as a tool night in and night out as the only guide for your pre-game. I have found it helpful to include other resources as I prepare for an effective pre-game conference. Here are some pre-game goals and suggestions:
Get the crew thinking about basketball. The first step in preparing for the pre-game should include the use of rule book and case book to choose topics you want to cover. Don’t overwhelm the crew with too much information. Select a few topics each night that will lead to healthy conversation that will help the performance of the crew. As the season goes on, the pre-game will change due to new information.
Help facilitate conversation about basketball involving the entire crew. The pre-game should be in outline form. Topics should be specific and to the point, not general in scope. Don’t spend 10 minutes on the jump ball since it only happens once per regulation game. The entire crew should be involved throughout the discussion and meaningful input should be encouraged. The R is assigned the responsibility to lead the pre-game but no one wants to listen to the R ramble on for 20 minutes. Referee A could discuss new rules and guidelines and Referee B could discuss court coverage and rotations. The pre-game should stick to fundamentals and keep personal preferences or opinions (philosophies) out of it. The pre-game should be organized so that conversation flows right into an exit from the locker room and onto the floor by the crew.

Prepare and discuss game situations that may come up based on past and recent game experiences that you have had, seen, or heard about. Be as specific as you can with plays. For example when talking about press situations, don’t say center will stay back around mid court to help out. Be specific and discuss how the center can help with the 10-second count, backcourt violations, or coverage on the other side on the court when the new trail is still deep in the backcourt.

Here are items that are recommended for a pre-game:

Discussion of new rules, points of emphasis and procedures.
Court coverage. Go over procedures you as a crew want to perform like clockwork.
Atypical situations and how to handle them as a crew. Prepare for confusing situations so you as a crew can handle it without adding further controversy.
Talk about partnering and the crews team concept. Discuss how the crew will assist with information that could change a partner‘s call (i.e., out of bounds help). The discussion should insure a team effort rather than an “over ruling “ mentality.
Discuss period ending scenarios including court coverage, communication, clock responsibility and play calling. Cover problem resolution that could occur with those plays.

Discuss team and player game tendencies (pace and tempo, type of defense played -man, zone, presses, type of offense- motion, triangle etc.). This information is important for the anticipation of PLAYS, and not for the purpose to form preconceived notions.

Remember a good pre-game brings everyone up to a high level of concentration and prepares the crew to be on the same page. It’s all about THE GAME, YOUR PARTNERS, and then YOU !

Good luck, Scott

 Thought for the Month
“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or the darkness of destructive selfishness. This is a judgment. Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others? “ Martin Luther King, Jr

.Holiday Greetings

As we approach this holiday season please take time to express your love and warmth to those that are close to you. I also hope you will make an effort to bring comfort and happiness to at least one person that you don’t know . Extend that person a helping hand and show them a sign of love. Happy holidays to you all.

Stay well…

Copyright 2000. Toliver All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part of any article without permission is prohibited. The thoughts in this newsletter are the property of the writer. I will not be responsible for anything contained as it reflects my opinion. While topics may be cutting edge in content it is the intent of the newsletter to stimulate positive interaction and growth for the readers.

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