Behind the whistle: Pass or shot, it’s still a ‘3’

I received a few questions from a former area resident regarding a play from an Ohio State Men’s game. The play was a lob pass from beyond the three point line that went directly into the basket. He questioned whether instead of the three points that were scored, it should count for only two points since it wasn’t a try for goal. I explained that I can only discuss the National Federation rules and not the college rules but the rule for high school and below states, “A successful try, tap or thrown ball from the field by a player who is located behind the team’s own three point arc counts three points”. That also indicates a player can’t score a three point goal for the opponent since it must be from behind his team’s three point line. The only time the rules allow an official to question whether a player is trying for goal or not is when there is a foul and a determination is made regarding a shooting or non-shooting foul.

Some people are not aware that the rules for high school boys and girls are different from the rules of college men and college women. Comparing high school rules to men’s college rules and a difference that often comes up is the block/charge play by an airborne shooter driving to the basket. High school rules indicate that a player that drives to the basket, goes airborne, shoots and is called for a charging foul before returning to the floor cannot score a basket even when the ball goes in and even if it goes in before the foul. College basketball, like professional basketball, has an arc on the floor under the basket to determine some block/charge calls but high school rules do not use this arc even if it is on the floor they are using. Women’s college rules have no ten second backcourt count. Both men’s and women’s college use a shot clock.

Another question posed was what happens when a player jumps in the air to shoot, is fouled by the defense, the buzzer sounds, the whistle blows and the ball goes in the basket. The foul happened before the buzzer so the foul counts. The buzzer sounded before the shoot was released so the basket can’t count. Since the player was fouled in the act of shooting and did not score, the player would receive two free throws if shooting from inside the arc and three if beyond the arc and there would be no players on the lane during the free throws. At the end of the fourth quarter or overtime these free throws would only be attempted if making them could change the outcome of the game.

Last week I discussed backcourt violations but didn’t cover the backcourt ten second count. This count starts when a player gets possession of the ball in the backcourt and the count continues until the ball touches frontcourt, a player in frontcourt, an official in front or the backboard or rim. The other things that could stop the count would be if the defense gets possession of the ball or the ball becomes dead. The batting of the ball by a defensive player does not change the count, this is just good defense. The player bringing the ball up the court can get a new count by throwing the ball off of an opponent that is in front court and the ball rebounds in to the backcourt but if the ball would hit a teammate in front court or jumping from frontcourt to backcourt and rebound into backcourt it would create a backcourt violation if then first touched by the offensive team. A team that calls timeout during ten second count gets a new count after they make the ensuing throw-in.

It is different when a player is dribbling the ball from backcourt to frontcourt in that a dribbler crossing over the division line is not considered being in frontcourt until the ball and both feet have touched together in the frontcourt at the same time. A dribbler may legally dribble the ball in front court while standing in the back court or step one foot over the line and then step back. A player may even move backwards across the line and have both feet in front court and still be dribbling behind the line and then return both feet to back court without penalty except that while this is happening the ten second count is continuing.

A few years ago we were officiating a game in the IVC at the new facility at Berlin Hiland and they always have a great hospitality room. When we got into the locker room my partner noticed something dripping from his referee bag. He opened it up and found that a bottle had opened and leaked all over the bottom part of the bag. I headed out for the hospitality room and he said he would stay and try to dry out the bag. While I was getting a sandwich, the Athletic Director, Colin Mishler, asked where my partner was and I told him the story about the leaky duffle. I finished my sandwich, returned to the dressing room and started getting ready for the game. Colin walked in carrying something behind him. He started laughing and asked if this would help dry out the duffel bag. He held out a 50cc gasoline leaf blower.

Howell can be reached at