Basketball, like football, is now a collision sport

Duffy Daugherty, the late Michigan State football coach, once said, “Football isn’t a contact sport. It is a collision sport. Dancing is a contact sport.”

It is apparent that the high school basketball coaches in the San Diego California Interscholastic Federation are disciples of the famous Irishman.

Prep basketball has become a collision sport. Contact seldom if ever is called as a foul in high school basketball. As a matter of fact, many collisions are not called infractions.

In girls’ basketball, if a girl is grabbed and thrown down onto the floor she is more likely to be called for traveling than she is to receive a foul call.

I am not singling out one official or a crew or two. It seems that most officials are backing off when it comes to calling fouls.

There is always a clown or two in the stands yelling “Let them play!” whenever a foul is called. “Let them hack” or “Let them battle” would be more like it.

Ramona High School Wrestling Coach Steve Koch would be proud of the take down that was scored on Janet Nasman in a recent basketball game in the Dawg House. No foul was called.

What has caused the influx of physical play?

“Coaches must prepare their teams to play the type of game that their foes are playing,” explained Dan Marshall, the varsity girls’ coach at Ramona High School. “We have to prepare the way the officials are calling the games. I would rather have a fast clean game but that is not what is happening. Colleges are playing an extremely physical game as are the JCs. The NBA has allowed hand checking for as long as I can remember. Players watch TV and see what is going on at the next levels and emulate what they see.

“When somebody is having success playing a certain type of defense, everybody copies that success. Being physical is an equalizer to athleticism and speed. The game has evolved into a game of speed and physicality on the prep level. To be successful, one is forced to match the style of play one is playing against.”

The girls are not the only ones playing a physical brand of hoops. The boys’ game is probably even more physical than the girls.

“It is frustrating at times,” states varsity basketball coach Ken Scheib. “The play underneath (the basket) has become very physical. When a foul is committed away from the basket, it is more likely to be called than if it is under the basket. It not only depends on the force of the foul but where it takes place. The players are getting bigger and stronger and the contact in the paint has escalated.

“It is probably more physical in the city than is in North County. The officials let it get more physical in the city. It all depends on the officials working the game.”

When asked if he prepares his team differently when he knows he is playing a physical team, Scheib replied, “Not entirely. We go over how we think the other team will try to play us. We try to focus on doing what we do and how we will be able to do it against our opponent. We will take what they give us. We know what options we have.”

One variable on how officials call a game is the background of the official. If the official played in the paint and was a physical player, he or she is more likely to let the post players play a physical game. If the official was a point guard, he/she is more likely to call a tighter game.

Like coaches and teams, officials have their own style. Former RHS coach Larry Bringham used to flinch when he saw certain officials walk into the old gym.

“It will be an ugly game tonight,” Bringham once said when he saw his least favorite official come in the gym. Bringham was correct.

Basketball has probably evolved more from its original form than most major sports. They used to have to take the ball out of the basket after every score. They used to have a jump ball after every score. Basketball players are called cagers because they used to put up fencing around the courts. The reason for the cages was because the rules gave the ball on out of bounds plays to the team that retrieved the ball, so the players would dive into the audience and fight for the ball. The cages protected the players and the fans.

Duffy Daugherty’s assessment of college football can now be applied to high school basketball.

   
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