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As we speed toward the end of the regular season in basketball, it’s easy to look back in enjoyment at all the good hoops action we’ve seen from both our boys and girls. A real revelation on each team has been post play, something not seen as much in an era enamored with three-point shots.

For the girls, Betsy Schoenrock has developed into a real presence inside and has a beautiful touch from up to 15 feet. For the boys, Tyler Raimann has matured into a physical threat and uses his strength and size to dictate much of the action in the paint.

 However, over and over, I hear coaches and fans from opposing teams scream, “Over the back! Call the foul!” This happens when Betsy or Tyler use their height advantage to simply reach over a player in front of them to snatch a rebound. Much to the chagrin on the other teams, what they do (most times) is NOT a foul. Go ahead, look it up. Over the back is not a foul.

 There are four types of fouls in basketball: push, hack, hold, and player control. If you displace another player, you have a push foul. If you hammer them across the arm, that’s a hack. If you grab them, it’s a hold. If you have control of the ball and lower your shoulder or extend your arm, you can be called for a player control foul. But being behind someone and grabbing the rebound? Nope, not unless you push the player in front of you or hold them in order to retrieve the ball.

 There’s a simple solution that many players don’t grasp. If you box out that tall person behind you, it’s easy to bend them over a bit, and you’ll likely get a push foul since that player has no choice but to commit that foul if he or she wants the ball. But positioning and boxing out are rare to see these days. Coaches can teach it all they want, but players have to want to do it, and in the course of fast-paced action, many don’t.

 Another misconception from fans and coaches is the backcourt violation rule, commonly called over and back. Once a player crosses half-court, he or she cannot go back over that line. But the key part of the rule involves three points: both feet and the ball. In a recent game I officiated, the visiting fans and coach went a little nuts on me for not calling this. However, the girl from the home team had only one foot and the ball over the midcourt line. She had every right to dribble back or pass the ball backwards, which is what she did.

 Something you will often hear at a basketball game is a shout of “Three seconds!” Players are only allowed to be in the lane by the basket for three seconds before vacating the area or it’s a turnover. The first point is that this only applies to offensive players. The second is that there’s not a referee in the world who only gives a player three seconds. I know if I see a player close, but he or she is moving toward the outskirts of the lane, I will give the benefit of the doubt. Often, I have to get to about five seconds before I call it unless it is a repeat offender. Also, the three second count restarts after every shot attempt.

Here’s one that you’ll likely hear more and more as the playoffs heat up: “Call the reach!” This usually happens out on top when someone is dribbling and the defender is attempting to steal or poke the ball away. Players are allowed to reach, but this goes back to the types of fouls you can call. If you push a player while reaching for the ball, it’s a foul. If you reach around a player, it’s not a foul if you don’t make contact. Sometimes it’s not even a foul if you do make contact. Does the action affect the ability of the ball handler to make the play? Did it displace the player with the ball? If not, don’t blow your whistle.

 I had someone ask me recently why carrying is not called more often. Those of us old enough to use “Back in my day” as a reference point, remember being taught to always dribble the ball on the top. If you went on the side and came over the top to dribble, it was a carrying violation. That rule has evolved, in large part due to the NBA. It’s a rare sight to see a player only dribble on the top anymore. Almost all players grab the ball on the side and bring it over. Carrying is only really called if a player puts a hand on the bottom of the ball and brings it around to dribble or pauses with the ball before continuing a dribble. Technically, it should be called a double dribble in that situation, and many referees call it that way, which leaves many fans scratching their heads.

 I enjoy officiating, but I wish more people would try it. I’ve seen plenty of bad officials this season, but I have to remind myself that the view from the stands is always different than that on the floor. Plus, I’m stationary, while the stripes are moving much of the time. As we look forward to, hopefully, long playoff runs by our basketball teams, please remember that and take a minute to review these basic rules before shouting something that shows you don’t know as much about the game as you think you do. Go Panthers!

Word of the Week: This week’s word is ambisinistrous, which means clumsy with both hands, as in, “The basketball player was quite ambisinistrous, which didn’t bode well for much playing time.” Impress your friends and confuse your enemies!


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