Basketball coaches comment on rule changes



BIG RAPIDS -- The recent wave of rule changes by the Michigan High School Athletic Association has had an impact on most sports including basketball.

Various area boys basketball coaches have made their feelings known about the changes.

The Council adopted a change to seeding to take effect for hockey, basketball and soccer to provide any existing byes to the No. 1, and then No. 2 seed, in that order, if multiple byes are part of a bracket. The draw process then will continue to place the remaining teams on the bracket based on a randomly-selected order determined earlier in the season.

"I think it is only fair the higher seeds get the byes," Reed City boys coach Jesse Kailing said. "This is the way the other states are running their state tournament and as everyone knows, the NCAA conference tournaments are this way also.

"The pros and cons are the same: there will be less upsets with the higher seeds playing less games while this allows a lower seed to win a game or two before going against a powerhouse."

"I think assigning a first round bye to the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, as dictated by bracket structure) is another step in the right direction," Pine River coach Brian Goodenow said. "Under last year's setup there was no reward for being the top seed, and in fact in some cases the No. 1 seed had a more difficult draw than others in the District. The MHSAA has the process moving, and the next logical step is to seed the entire district, as the point structure is already in place. Personally, I do not see any cons to this arrangement."

Similar rules changes in football and basketball approved by the Council and recommended by the MHSAA committees for those respective sports aim to create more opportunities, especially for programs struggling to field teams at multiple levels.

In basketball, an athlete may compete in up to five quarters per day, during no more than three dates per week and 20 dates per team or individual. '

This change, the MHSAA said, will allow athletes to contribute to both varsity and subvarsity teams simultaneously, potentially bolstering numbers and opportunities to retain those squads.

"If I were coaching at a very small school this would be very helpful in sports like football that sometimes struggle with participation," Kailing said. "This would allow schools that are struggling with numbers field a JV and varsity team instead of canceling one of the two teams.

"This could affect continuity between teams moving players up and down. In high contact sports this could become a health issue with fatigue, possibly more injuries."

The Council approved a series of recommendations from the Officials Review Committee. One of those is coaches and athletes ejected from competition now are required to complete an online sportsmanship course from the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) before returning to competition.

"This is probably a good idea," Kailing said. "But sitting out a game is probably the ultimate punishment already."

"I'm all for requiring coaches and athletes to participate in this process if they've been ejected," Goodenow said. "There is no excuse, particularly in basketball, for someone to complain to the point of being ejected."