Season Ticket Review – Technically speaking

A ref should never have a chance to fully decide a game. Anger during a basketball game, often, leads to technical fouls – after all, this is a referee’s job: to keep the players respectful and focused on the game within the boundaries of the rules. But when the anger in question is so minimal – so trivial – it puts the game’s balance in the hands of three D-League level referees, three people who aren’t good enough to handle the stress of the true big league games, then we’ve got problems. Sorry to say this, but those aren’t the people you want in charge.


Game 5: December 15th, 2006

Arkansas RimRockers (6-3) at Sioux Falls Skyforce (4-4)

At times, anger cannot be reigned in. It’s part of the competitive nature of professional sports. The proper feelings aren’t displayed – instead, a rash of obscenities is poured out and rational reasoning is left by the wayside.

In the NBA, referees understand this. Only personal insults, wide open cursing, and over-the-top complaining warrant the dreaded “technical foul.” Of course, that has never stopped Kerrie and me from yelling “T ‘EM UP!” at least once a quarter whenever it seems the opposing team is complaining, swearing, or committing some otherwise harmless action.

But last night, the referee on duty officiated with some serious delusions of grandeur. During the third quarter, Skyforce coach Mo McHone argued a call and was given a technical foul. He stepped onto the court, seemingly continuing his argument, and was quickly given his second technical foul. Two technical fouls in the span of mere seconds, and McHone was tossed from the game. Just like that.

Then, at courtside, a fan was jawing at the ref. Just as suddenly as the McHone incident, the ref was instructing security to throw him out as well. And it happened. Security came over, and the ref kept insisting. “Get him out,” we saw him motion. This man – who was sitting courtside, right at mid-court, in what was probably the best and most sought-after seat in the Sioux Falls arena – was being thrown out of a game because of a referee’s thin skin. For his trouble, the fan received a standing ovation and was allowed to keep his beer.

All of this gave Assistant Coach Nate Tibbets a chance to coach on his own. And it nearly backfired – a 19-point lead was lost, the Skyforce looked dogged, and Tibbets was watching any coaching future he had slip through his fingers. Thankfully, our acting coach took out our center, played with a faster lineup, and ended up leading the Skyforce to a seven-point win – a win that really wasn’t even that close. Andre Brown, who is quickly becoming a threat to leave for the NBA, scored 34 points and had 17 rebounds, 11 of which were offensive.

We noticed that McHone was, for the first time since the season opener, tie-less. He’s sponsored by Norman’s Men’s Wear and had taken to wearing a tie under his college-professor-esque sports jacket. Some people look better in a tie. McHone doesn’t. This sudden change from suave, no-tie wonder coach to tied up, depressed old man concerned Kerrie and me. We both figure there’s a 95% chance that Mo will not be here next year and that Tibbets will be taking over for the 07-08 season. Tonight was one of those signs – McHone was free to be ejected (nearly without cause) because the coach-in-training was still sitting on the bench, much like the slow power-switch from former Mavericks coach Don Nelson to current coach Avery Johnson.

Luke Whitehead did not play last night, after playing significant minutes in Thursday’s game. The reason was listed as a coach’s decision, but we’re curious how much his huge shiner had to do with it. We had noticed it yesterday (along with a bandaged left wrist) and wondered what kind of bar room brawl he had gotten into. Thursday was his first start for the team. Had he fought his way into that position? Now we’re curious as to why was he starting Thursday and not playing at all on Friday. What had happened in practice? Did he rip McHone’s tie off and start swinging it around his head, whooping “I’m the starter now, bitch! Take that, Jeff Varem!” No wonder Mo was so angry during the game.

The questions will continue to be unanswered, as neither Whitehead nor McHone made any mention of the benching or the “DNP-Coach’s Decision” on the box score. Oh well – at least (while searching for the black eye’s source) I found Luke Whitehead’s college fan page – Whitehead’s World.

Friday night’s game also marked the first appearance of our newest overgrown mascot character – the Texas Roadhouse armadillo. This oddly-shaped animal suit will, hopefully, put the Famous Dave’s pig to shame enough that it will finally get a bath. I’m eagerly awaiting the first ever mascot roundup, featuring a series of one-on-one matches to the death.

Only the best fur will remain.

Skyforce 100, Arkansas 93

This was lovingly handwritten on December 16th, 2006