BAYONNE, NJ - The Hunterdon Hoops AAU Tournament was held at Marist High School this past Saturday. The school just South of the Jersey City border ran three courts of action from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Twelve solid hours of basketball with teams getting a two game minimum schedule. The action called for boys and girls (the predominant number) games.
Crossroads 46, Game On 43
The 10th grade level game proved quite eventful. My partner the first two games sustained a pulled muscle and walking to the sidelines, let alone working a third game, was a painful encounter. Two officials were needed. Teams pay good money for these events and are promised a full crew on the games. Nick Gallo, an official and coach of one of the Hunterdon teams, was helping to coordinate the event. He found an officiating partner, Lorie Khalil, the head women's basketball coach of Arcadia University, a Division III school near Philadelphia.
We discussed a few things pre-game. Lorie was concerned with signals to which I said, coaches look for calls rather than signals, just verbalize what you are calling and you will be fine. She did add that in her estimation Elena Delle Donne was the best player in the nation last season. Not a bad choice at all.
Gallo mentioned the SA column to Khalil with the idea there could be some publicity to go along with running the floor officiating a game. Basically told Lorie to not worry about position as much. If she was out of position, I could work off where she was positioned.
Game On got out to an early lead. During a time out I mentioned that their big girl was impressive as she could handle the ball and run the floor well. Lorie asked if I did player evaluations. Not really, but I will make notes on games officiated. A number 25 of Game On caught Lorrie's eye for the way she positioned herself pursuing rebounds. Each time out Lorie would ask about a certain play and try to get advice. She approached the officiating with a passion and love of the game that is evident in her work on the sidelines.
At the half it is 24-21 in favor of Game On, a Kingston, NY team with an assistant who was impressed that I knew they hailed from Marist College 'country'. The official for the next two games has arrived early and takes over. Before the second half started went over a few more officiating ideas with Lorie and reiterated what a pleasure it was working with her. She stayed and watched a few minutes of a second half where Crossroads of the Western part of New Jersey, slowly trimmed the lead after falling behind early. They showed good patience and poise throughout and when they grabbed the lead late in the game, those attributes helped protect the narrow margin. Crossroads sealed the affair hitting their free throws in the final minutes.
Enjoyed closing out the second half with my partner who did a very nice job. Still, was impressed with the job Lorie did and a visit to her school's website gave more insight.
Arcadia is in a rebuilding mode. Her second year on the job this past season saw Khalil direct Arcadia to a 10-15 record, the most wins since 2005-06. She has attacked the refurbishing task with young players. And an extension of the passion she showed in officiating is firmly rooted in her coaching philosophy. Not just game planning and team/individual improvement. Her student/athletes are to be expected to be just what they are labeled: excelling in the classroom and giving back to the community while competing on the floor. She jokingly admits to not being a 'fan of the word patience'. Turning around a struggling program does take time. The results have already began to show for the Arcadia program. Both on and off the floor.