Some random thoughts as we wind down 2007.
I just finished a stretch of watching 28 high school basketball games in 11 days, which includes Christmas and Christmas Eve. So make that 28 games in nine days.
16 of the games came at the Kentucky Machine and Engineering Classic at Wildcat Gym. It would have been 30 games in 11 days, but two of the games were cancelled because of bad weather.
The final 12 games were at the Murray Bank Lady Tiger Classic in Murray where I did the PA announcing and provided game stats.
After watching the abundance of games, I made the following observations....
- The amount of griping about the officiating by parents is nearly out of control. Some fans were worse than others. And it just isn't relegated to the Second Region. The First Region refs at Murray were subject to the same vocal displeasure. You can't expect the refs the call every foul or turnover. You can only ask that they be consistent. And as one assistant coach found out the hard way, you can't tell an official "you're crazy" and not get hit with a technical foul. The 'T' meant the head coach had to coach from their seat the rest of the game. If you don't like the quality of officiating, contact the KHSAA and take the test to become a referee, I'm sure they could use you and your uncanny ability to see every single call on the floor. If this doesn't suit you, then chill out at the next game.
- When did it become vogue for fans to vocally single out players on the floor? I'm not a fan of this. That's the coach's job. If you want to yell at your son or daughter, I guess that's OK. But yelling at someone else's kid as you would your own to me crosses a line. I heard way too much of this in the past two weeks.
- I watched 28 games in two cities. None of the 16 games at Trigg County had cheerleaders there. None. Only Murray, the host school, had cheerleaders of the eight schools in their tourney. In the past, I've heard the arguement about how cheerleaders deserve some respect when it comes to getting the same treatment or funding as sports teams. Maybe attendance is one of the factors involved when it comes to this. Of the 12 schools that visited Cadiz last week, none brought cheerleaders. Of the seven schools that visited Murray this week, none brought cheerleaders. I'm sure there is some expense involved when it comes to the schools that stayed in Trigg or Calloway County overnight. But over half of the schools were less than an hour away and I'm sure there is plenty of room on a school bus for both players and cheerleaders. I'd be curious to hear some comments about why you rarely see cheerleaders at holiday basketball tournaments.
- There isn't a player around that gets more out of her size than Lyon County junior Sarah White. She stands only 5-foot-5 but she scored 21 points and grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds against a much taller and more physical team in Fulton County Wednesday. White's heroics weren't enough to lead Lyon to a win, but she earned the respect of the fans in Murray's gym when she was named the Player of the Game. And there isn't a senior on the Lady Lyon roster.
- Coaches favor pool play over a three-day double-elimination tournament because you can play up to four tournament games and have it count only as one single game against the 24-game limit for a season. At the KME Classic, the girls played a double-elimination format and got three games. The guys played in pool play and played four games. A lot of coaches are starting to look for tournaments that feature pool play for this very reason. Don't be surprised to see both the Trigg girls and even the Murray girls tournament feature pool play at their holiday tournaments in 2009.
- Larue County followed up their championship win at the KME Classic in Trigg County by winning their own National Guard Holiday Classic this week. The Hawks beat a 7-2 Central Hardin team 58-48 in the championship game. Larue County heads into 2009 with a 12-0 record.
- Hancock County, winner of the girls side of the KME Classic, did not play in a post-Christmas tournament.
- Another team that didn't play in a post-Christmas tournament was Trigg County. And that's probably a good thing. The Lady Wildcats have lost 18 of 20 post-Christmas tournament games dating back to 1992. They won a game at McLean County over a winless Cannelton, Ind. team in 2006 and beat South Hopkins in the Union County State Farm Classic in 1992. Former Trigg coach Buddy Sivills once told me he hated to schedule games right after Christmas because the focus just wasn't there. He liked to use the time for practice. In fact, in Sivills' five years as head coach from 1995-2000, he never scheduled a post-Christmas tournament appearance. With a 1-8 tournament record over the past three seasons, Lady Wildcat head coach Amy Breckel has decided to take a page out of Sivills' scheduling book. We'll see if it pays any dividends in early 2009.
- I'm never a fan of up-tempo teams trying to pull the ball out and stall. If you've done something that works and has given you an 8-10 point lead, why change the plan? Trigg County tried to stall against St. Mary last week in Marion's Holiday Tournament and lost. Up 34-26 at halftime, the Wildcats decided to take the air out of the basketball and went into stall mode in the third quarter, holding the basketball for three minutes. The plan didn't work as St. Mary cut the deficit to 41-37 heading into the final quarter. St. Mary went on to win the game 59-54 as Trigg County couldn't regain their offensive momentum. More times than not, the stall tactic doesn't work, especially when the team ahead has TRIGG on their jerseys.