Longer basketball seasons: coaches generally approve

Hoop skippers eagerly await 22-game regular season

BIG RAPIDS – In about another six weeks, basketball teams will be getting ready fir their summer programs.

Considering a new change by the Michigan High School Athletic Association, basketball teams might find summer camps to be more important than ever.

The MHSAA will now allow, beginning with the 2022-23 season, high school basketball teams to play up to 22 regular-season games at every level (varsity, junior varsity and freshman). Additionally as part of that proposal, mandatory preseason practice was reduced by one week, allowing teams to begin playing games after 14 days instead of 21. Shorter preseasons will make the summer camp even more critical.

“It will open up opportunities to play more non-league opponents and see other teams,” Pine River coach Brian Goodenow said. “I also think it will allow for some holiday tournaments and other events that will be enjoyable for athletes and parents.”

A negative aspect, Goodenow said, “we be finding enough officials to cover games. It will also require even more of a commitment from volunteers who run score clocks and keep the book. We have 21 scheduled right now, and will likely pick up a 22nd game.

The shorter preseason, “will force us to be even more focused and efficient with practice time, but overall I don't think it will have a big impact,” Goodenow said. “I could see it being an issue though, if the school's football team makes a deep playoff run and athletes only get a couple of days of preparation time for basketball.”

“The additional games are great for our student-athletes,” Reed City girls coach Tim Beilfuss said. “It allows them more exposure and more opportunities to compete. I believe this is long overdue as we compete with bordering states and keep student-athletes in the state of Michigan. More exposure and competition for student-athletes I believe is a good thing. It allows us to possibly to play against schools that we have not usually scheduled in the past.”

Pine River coach Paula Justin said it’s likely the two scrimmages during the three-week preseason will likely convert into the two new regular season games.

“I have talked with one official who expressed the concern over the shortage of officials,”Justin said. “This should not be a reason for our kids getting less games. The problem needs to be addressed to attract more officials into the pool.”

“Finding enough officials to accommodate these extra games may be worrisome,” Beilfuss said. “We have a shortage already, and hopefully this not hurt us as well.

“Our schedule is full for next year. With these added games, we decided on hosting a Holiday Tournament the last week of the year. This gives us an opportunity to play against competition we would not usually schedule. Overall, I am OK with this move. This makes summer and fall conditioning and skill prep even more important.”