Archive for November, 2008

Life or sudden death?

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

After finishing my games on Sunday, I stopped to briefly watch the game on the adjacent court. The game was tied going into double-overtime, which is known as “sudden death” in most situations with the first team to score the winner. The team that won the ball in double-overtime eventually got the ball into their center. As he was driving the player was bumped slightly in the lane. No foul was called, but it could have been called. After that, it appeared as if the player traveled slightly (no call was made) and then the player shot an 8-footer and made it. Game over.

As the officials left the floor, two parents from the losing team exchanged words with them about the traveling no-call that cost their team the game (which I still would like to look at on tape to verify). Funny, they didn’t say anything about the bump no-call which may have lead to the “travel.” Bottom line: I’m going to assume that this was a great game in which both teams had ample opportunities to win it in regulation or the first overtime. These parents are classic dads who need to read BasketCases. In fact, I will bet the mortgage that those dads told their sons in the car on the way home (if not in the parking lot on the way to the car) that they got screwed over by the officials. They probably didn’t say anything about it being a great game and all the positives that they should have focused on. And this is a tiny example why we have a problem with youth basketball.

Case in Point: Mauer is a great guy

Saturday, November 15th, 2008

I met Kenny Mauer, the NBA official who wrote the foreword for BasketCases, tonight at a local venue to have him sign copies of BasketCases. Kenny, who was in the Twin Cities for a day and a half before flying to the West Coast tomorrow, signed a whole case of books. For those of you keeping score at home, there are 68 books in a case and, if you care, each case weighs 44.8 pounds. At least that is what the sticker says on the side.

This case of books will be saved for other referees or friends who want a book with Kenny’s signature. I also had him personalize a few books for some friends and a book for myself. As Kenny was signing the final copies, I came up with a great idea. I had one book left in the case (trust me, I have more books, we haven’t run out yet), and I had Kenny personalize it for my three-year-old son Mac. Kenny wrote a really neat message to Mac, who is one of the people I dedicated the book to. It sounds corny, but what Kenny wrote to Mac was really special. Something I will cherish for years to come.

Thanks, Kenny, for all your support for BasketCases and your friendship for the past five years.


Opening up the e-mail bag

Saturday, November 15th, 2008

I got a great e-mail from a guy from Minnesota named Lou Suski, and he gave me permission to post it on this blog (still don’t like the word blog, never will - don’t ever call me a blogger). I really liked his point about the fact that only a couple of players per grade ever become starters.

Hi!  Wow, I don’t really know where to begin.  What a great idea for a book!  I loved your interview with Perk this AM.  I was a youth basketball coach for ten years from the time my son started playing in first grade until my daughter finished travel ball as an 8th grader.  As I coached both of my children through house and then travel to include AAU in Spring, Summer and Fall, I literally coached over 1000 games.  I can fully relate to your experiences.  Fortunately, I had the opportunity to play in high school and a year in college.  So, I knew a little about the game.  Too many parents have never played, coached or refereed and have no clue about the game but try to coach from the sidelines and “referee” as well.  I can honestly say that in all my years of coaching I only had 3 games where the referees were so bad that they effected the outcome.  The worse thing was that the games literally turned into rugby matches as you mention in Chapter 29.  Part of the problem is that we have too many parents AND coaches who have never played and have no idea of the rules.  While I often got excited with my players and pushed them to play hard, I seldom had issue with the referees…except when kids were getting knocked to the floor and no fouls were being called - typically both ways.  I always told my players and parents that our main goal was to have fun.  Also, in youth sports on the travel teams where every parent thinks there child is a star, you have 10 girls in one grade on a team and the reality is that maybe half of them will even make the varsity and 2 or 3 will ever become starters.  That was the reality with the teams I coached.  Well, good luck with the book and with refereeing.  I will look for it next time I am at the book store.
Thanks again for doing this.
Lou Suski


Instant parental/reader feedback

Monday, November 10th, 2008

I met a gentleman from a Western suburb Saturday at the book signing in Minnetonka. He saw my appearance on KARE 11 and came into the store to get a signed copy of the book. Guess who I saw today when I was officiating a fall league at 43 Hoops? The same guy. He read the whole book last night and loved it. He told me “I wish I would have read it 10 years ago when my kids started playing. This should be in the starter kit for every official and every parent shouldn’t be able to register their kids for youth basketball without reading it first.” That was great to hear. During the game, there was a play in which I called a backcourt violation on his son’s team (covered in Chapter 19) because a teammate passed the ball to another teammate who left the ground in the backcourt, caught the pass in the air and landed in the front court. After the game he told me “Before reading the book, I probably would have said something about that being a bad call. Now I know better.”

A couple other e-mails I want to pass along, one from my friend Mike Nill, who was on the 1989 Owatonna State Champion team. He was the starting power forward and made a living hitting the Horace Grant-like 15 footer. He wrote, ”

Worth every penny. I’m almost done with the book. I’ll definitely be watching the refs more (to see how they interact/officiate). I’m also ashamed to say that I knew less than I thought about the rules.”



Don’t be ashamed, Mike. Most former players-turned-parents think they know all the rules, and often only know some of them.

I also received this e-mail from my friend Tim Harkness from St. Louis Park, which I thought was fitting:

I will have to pick up a copy as my 12-year old is on the SLP Traveling b-ball team, and I spend numerous weekends in area gyms listening to any number of bozos making the kids’ game all about “them.”





Morning Perk-me-up

Saturday, November 8th, 2008

Thanks to everyone who tuned into KARE 11 this morning for my interview with Eric Perkins. I have to tell you that guy is highly caffeinated. He has the energy of someone with 20 Red Bulls and 10 Pepsis and five Double Lattes from Caribou Coffee. Perk interviewed me for about BasketCases for about four minutes and hopefully I sounded somewhat sensible. I thought they would put some makeup on my big bald dome, especially considering the bright studio lights, but they didn’t. I want to thank Perk and producer Gail Knox for putting me on in front of 100,000 Minnesotans. Thanks for everyone who stopped by the three book signings as well. It was a fun day.

For those who missed the KARE 11 segment, it is posted on KARE under Shows, KARE Saturday. The link below will take you there. Looking forward to returning to the court Sunday for some three-person high school ball at 43 Hoops in Hopkins.


Public book launch Saturday, Tubby endorses BasketCases

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

Thanks to my friends and family that attended the private BasketCases launch party October 26 in Stillwater. NBA referee Kenny Mauer, who wrote the foreword, swung by to sign copies of the book, and a good time was had by all.

I enjoyed speaking to youth basketball parents and coaches at Benilde-St. Margaret last night. This Saturday will be a busy day with the official public launch of BasketCases. I will be on the KARE 11 Saturday Morning program with Eric Perkins and Belinda Jensen. The five-minute segment with Eric Perkins is scheduled to begin at 8:28 a.m. 

Following that, I have three book signings:

10:30 — 12:30 at Borders Books in Minnetonka (across from Ridgedale)

1:30 — 2:30 at General Sports in Edina (50th and France)

4:00 — 6:00 p.m. at Borders Books in Woodbury (off Radio Drive)

Stop by at one of those locations if you are out and about on Saturday. 

Also, I want to share the University of Minnesota Men’s Basketball Coach Tubby Smith endorsed BasketCases this week. He said, “This is an important book for everyone interested in helping the game of basketball grow.”