Marine Far East Regional Basketball Tournament, pre-meeting
Published: July 11, 2010
If you notice more foul calls made than usual in the first day or so of play in the 2010 Marine Corps Far East Regional Basketball Tournament, there's good reason, according to Okinawa Athletic Officials Association basketball commissioner George Griffin.
No fewer than 32 -- 32! -- changes have been made to the 2010 NCAA rulebook, which governs such tournaments in the Pacific. Normally, Griffin says, just a handful of changes are made each year.
Why? Special emphasis, Griffin said, is being given to safety and sportsmanship, cutting back on on-court contact, control of players involving everything from physical contact to taunting and baiting opponents.
Up until five years ago, basketball was considered a contact sport, in actuality and by rule, Griffin said at the Far East Regional Tournament coaches' meeting Sunday at Camp Foster's WestPac Inn conference room. "Now, basketball is no longer considered a contact sport," Griffin said.
My take: Which is as it should have been all along, since the game of basketball was invented by James A. Naismith. It had always been a test of putting the ball in the basket, but at some point in the 1990s, the game got far more physical than it should be, with so much contact and taunting let go and permitted (and encouraged by big media) that the college and pro games simply became unwatchable.
Griffin said the object of the rules changes is to "get sportsmanship and safety back into the game."
Changes made in recent years will be enforced more rigidly. Contact that would have resulted in a personal foul in years past will now be met with technical fouls, or even flagrant-foul calls that mandate an immediate ejection. Even the act of raising hands in the foul lane after the referee delivers the ball to the shooter will constitute a lane violation.
"They could have written a whole new rulebook," Griffin said.
Want to know which team will win the Far East Regional Tournament? If it were up to six-time All-Marine and four-time All-Armed Forces post player Jelani Nix, they'd not even bother playing the tournament; just give the trophy back to 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, which has won the last three regionals.
Riffing off Griffin's discussion about team-control fouls, Nix said: "Team-control foul. Yep, that's what we've been doing the last three years. And that's what they'll be calling when we win that fourth one," Nix said.
Asked if he'd be comfortable saying, let's just stop now and give Wing the cup, Nix said, "Yes, I'd be comfortable with that, because we've been saying that the last three years."
Can anybody say ... locker-room material?
Still, Nix does speak with some assurance. He's been in nine Marine regionals, Far East, East Coast and West Coast over the years; only once has a team he's played for lost.
Tournament begins at 4 p.m. Monday at Court 2, Foster Field House, with the teams that met for last year's championship, Wing and Marine Corps Base Camp S.D. Butler; Wing beat Base 90-72 last April 11. Play runs through Friday's title game at 6 p.m.