This & That

It started to occur to me during the fall of 2017 that some sports at some levels really don’t care if fans understand the rules or not. As a lover of many sports who makes sure I understand the rules of the game, this was extremely disturbing.

My focus was attracted by the fact that during their 2017 season, the National Football League appeared to be changing the rules as the season went along. The definition of a catch depended upon what day or time it was, where you were playing, and who knows what else. In short, there seemed to be no reason to how a catch was defined when.

I took in the NCAA Regional Basketball first round games at Hartford, Conn. last weekend and saw some great basketball. I also saw some great officiating and it made me realize I should pass what I have seen most of the winter at the college level with officials along to you – where sometimes they were looking bad in some eyes in order to look good. I have even witnessed some of this at the high school level.

The general idea I am referring to is that of advantage/disadvantage. Frequently, officials allow a certain amount of contact to go. But there are times where they let it go but blow the whistle late. Player A is driving to the basket and there is some contact. The player then quickly rises to shoot a jump shot. Lo and behold, the defensive nudge he had been given has thrown him off balance and the shot goes awry. Then Player B is driving in the same manner and the same contact occurs. It appears Player B will be able to keep control of the ball, but he loses the sphere because his balance was lost by the nudge. In both cases, there are late whistles and a foul called.

In both instances, the official wanted to keep the game moving, but it was clear the defender had gained an advantage by the nudge. Thus in the end fouls were called. This is when a fan is apt to holler out, “What’s wrong with you ref? Can’t you make up your mind?” Just another example of how tough it might be for fans to understand what some rules are about today. If it matters, I think this hoop officiating change is a good one.

In Hartford, offensive performances by Ja Morant and Carsen Edwards won’t soon be forgotten and in another game Vermont fell in a competitive game with Sweet Sixteen Florida State. The play of Vermont was appreciated on Thursday, but that level of appreciation grew taller after Saturday’s games, although the Catamounts had been eliminated over 48 hours before.

The Florida State-Murray State game was very much anticipated. Almost everybody expected a high scoring high wire act for the ages. The Seminoles scored loads, but the game was no contest. Morant’s Racers could not contend with the physical specimens in the Florida State uniforms.

That is exactly where the praise of Vermont came in. I’m somewhat sensible and I didn’t think John Becker’s Catamounts could hold anywhere near their own versus these burly, tall, quick, lengthy wing-spanned athletes who they were matched with in the first round. I saw a 16-point spread against the Vermonters. I was wrong.

The fact Vermont played and shot well wasn’t surprising. The fact they fell behind more than once and clawed their way back wasn’t surprising either. They had proven over and over that they were gutsy and had heart. However, this edition of Florida State just has too many weapons and they run their opponents down. In the end, that is what they did to the Green and Gold. But Vermont never fully went away and had chances near the end.

Turnovers and missed free throws, categories which are impacted by becoming tired, were the deciding factors and the fact the lads from Florida had no one playing more than 80 percent of the game and Vermont had three well above takes it toll in the long run. The talk in the press trenches following the Murray State loss was how good was Vermont to be able to defend and compete with the Seminoles as long as they did. Vermont stock was selling high when all was said and done in Hartford.

Vermont high school basketball came to its official end last Saturday in Windsor with the annual Vermont Basketball Coaches Association Senior All-Star games. Four games were played and the two southern girls’ teams won and the two northern boys’ teams won, the day ending as a split.

Girls from the area who took part in the competition were Green Mountain’s Paige Karl, Annie Lamson, Maya Lewis, and Rachel Guerra; Leland & Gray’s Sierra Fillion; and Black River’s Emily Perham in the 3/4 game. Springfield’s Hannah Crosby was representing her school in the 1/2 game. On the boys’ side, two Black River players, Ryan Boyle and Jon Mason, competed on the 3/4 team along with Leland & Gray’s Lucas Newton.

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