Coaches react to MHSAA rule changes

Published 10:12 pm Thursday, December 5, 2013

Veteran Brandywine girls basketball coach Josh Hood likes the new rules adopted by the MHSAA, but won’t be using electronic devices on the bench anytime soon. (Leader photo/File)

Veteran Brandywine girls basketball coach Josh Hood likes the new rules adopted by the MHSAA, but won’t be using electronic devices on the bench anytime soon. (Leader photo/File)

The Michigan High School Athletic Association has made a couple of significant rule changes in basketball and wrestling.

In basketball and wrestling, the MHSAA has approved the use of electronic devices on the bench or in the corner for coaching purposes.

That means that coaches can now show players plays or keep statistics on the bench.

The devices cannot be used to dispute official’s calls.

Basketball coaches will now be allowed to leave the bench area without penalty if a fight breaks out or to keep one from happening. Players and assistant coaches may not enter the playing surface in those situations without being assessed a flagrant technical foul and being disqualified from the contest.

Also in wrestling, forfeits will no longer be considered as matches when under the five-matches-in-a-day limit on competition.

Veteran basketball coach Josh Hood from Brandywine won’t be taking advantage of any electronic devices at this point, but does like the rule about coaches being allowed to help break up or stop any physical confrontations.

“The rule pertaining to electronic devices will not impact anything we do as coaches in our program,” he said. “We work on end of game situations and any set-play we would use in a game during our practices. We will continue to use a basic whiteboard to review those plays during a timeout.

“We may use electronic devices for stats in the future, but as of right now we feel very good about the system we have in place and the methods we us.”

Hood’s teams play aggressive basketball and sometimes tempers can flare. This new rule will help not only officials keep control of the games, but coaches who previously faced potential technical fouls and ejections.

“I am completely on board with that rule,” he said. “Basketball is a very intense sport and when teenage kids are in a competitive battle sometimes their emotions get the best of them. It is the coach’s job to make sure their teams play hard, but to also make sure they are playing with class.

“If a situation looks to be escalating to the point of physical altercation, then coaches should be allowed to intervene right away. I also agree that the head coaches should be the only ones to leave the bench. The more players that enter the situation from the bench or the court could increase the risk of other conflicts arising.

Hood added that with head coaches, three game officials and school administrators in the gym, there is plenty of qualified adults at a venue to diffuse any situation without the help of players from each team.

Dowagiac wrestling coach Matt Alward

Dowagiac wrestling coach Matt Alward

Dowagiac wrestling coach Matt Alward likes both rules.

“As technology continues to improve, we should be able to use what we have to make our athletes better,” he said. “I will be using my iPad to keep score as well as my stats this year. I also like that a forfeit does not count against your five-match limit because you did not wrestle.

“The five-match rule is in place to ensure the athletes’ safety in regards to injury from fatigue. If they have not wrestled, then it shouldn’t be counted against them.”

Niles boys basketball coach Todd Pawielski doesn’t see using the technology anytime soon either and wonders if it is in fact good for the game.

“I don’t love the new rule changes with regards to technology,” he said. “I think it could possibly further the divide between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots.’ I also think it really rewards the coaches who are tech savvy versus those like myself who don’t know anything about electronics.

“I am fine with my Atari and Coleco-vision games like Pong and Pitfall. Technology today is way more advanced than I want to know or can handle.”

Edwardsburg girls basketball coach Nicole Cartwright has already been using those devices.

“Technology is a great teaching tool,” she said. “We started using an iPad to keep stats last season and it is very helpful to calculate and break stats down quickly and effortlessly. As far as not being able to utilize it to dispute calls, basketball is a fast-pace game and we don’t have the technology at the high school level to even begin to do that process quickly.

“As far as a fight breaking out on the floor, that doesn’t affect us because that’s not the type of basketball we play at Edwardsburg.”