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Old Sun Jan 16, 2005, 02:07am
rainmaker rainmaker is offline
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Location: Portland, Oregon
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I remember a year or two ago, there was a point of emphasis about keeping players out of the center circle during the pre-game activities. Most of us on this board didn't really need that, but it appeared that somewhere in the US it had been a problem. Well, the situation reared its ugly head last night, right here in Oregon (outside of Portland, in the charming little burg of Sandy.)

I did the freshman girls' game and JV girls' game, then stayed to watch the varsity game. Apparently, these two schools are rivals, and there's been a lot of "bad blood" between them over the years (one of the assistant coaches explained it to us at half-time of the JV game.) I didn't think the JV game was too bad, although there were a few cheap fouls taken with a sort of attitude. Both freshman and JV games were close, home won them both.

Before the varsity game began, everything went as normal. Warm-ups, captains/coaches, book fine, game ball, Star-Spangled Banner all seemed uneventful. Announcer began introducing the visitors' starting line-up, and they did the usual shake hands with refs, coach, and then they were collecting in the center circle. When that was done, the whole team ran out to the center, and did this little huddle, cheer, pep rally thing like they do.

Meantime, the lights dim, the spotlights start roaming around the gym and this loud music comes on. Announcer says the name of the first home starter, she runs out to the center circle WHERE THE WHOLE VISITING TEAM IS STILL STANDING IN THEIR HUDDLE.

Now I had a game Friday evening a week ago with this visiting team at their home, and I had them as visitors at a different school before Christmas, and then didn't do this routine, so I KNOW something is going on here.

So first home team player turns and waves to the crowd, and sort of non-chalantly backs clear up to this huddle of visiting players. She was facing the basket at her bench end of the gym, so she ended up butt to butt with a visiting player, who (in full view of the whole crowd) reached back and pinched the home player's butt quite firmly. Home player jumped and then turned and said something, but by this time, the next home team player had been introduced and was out in the center. They whispered, but didn't take any action, but they also didn't move away. Finally, the whole home team comes running out to center court, does a little cheer kind of off center (since the visitors were STILL ON THE CENTER CIRCLE) and then came back to the bench.

Home coach is lambasting the refs because "this is OUR center circle, and you aren't supposed to allow them out there and why aren't you doing anything about it?" and so on. Refs handled him okay, and the game went on. Home ended up winning by 4 or 5 but only because visitor had to foul the last minute to get the ball. It was basically a tie until then.

After the game, I stayed and talked to the varsity guys. They said they saw all the center circle stuff, but didn't deal with it because they didn't think it was any big deal. By the time the coach was screaming, it was too late to do much.

Now to the 20/20 hindsight: What should a ref do in this situation? When I see that the visitors aren't leaving the center circle, do I stop the announcing and talk to visiting coach? When the first player heads for center court, do I move her at that point to the free-throw circle? Is there a time when a technical foul should be issued?
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