Sunday, March 1, 2015

Jump Balls & Four Corner Delay Game

Between Spring, Summer, Winter, and Fall, I used to say my favorite season was basketball. And basketball was my spouse.

I fell in love with the sport in 1978back when jump balls occurred at every tie-up. The set-ups often looked funny if a tall player jumped against the feisty guard, but you jolly green giants should not have brought the ball down for us pesky rat terriers to grab it.

The first basketball team I ever played on. I was in 7th grade.
I'm number 33 standing by Coach Ruth Hausemann.
Tinted glass were in style.

I know I am in the minority, but I wish we still had jump balls. That possession arrow determines the winner in close games, and shouldn't the defense have a chance at getting the ball back if the offense didn't take care of it?

Our superintendent, Dale Schneider, a member of the South Dakota Activities Association in the 70s and 80s, would ask us thought provoking questions like that during government class. I could never tell which side of the question he was on.

A change I did like was the smaller ball. It came out during my junior year in high school and helped me shoot and dribble better. I also remember experiments with a shot clock. Didn't like that one bit.

I still do not like watching games with a shot clock. It eliminates the stalling tactic, yes, but it put a new spin on the game delay tactic that I liked. Sure, some coaches, unethical in my opinion, would run a delay game when they were way ahead. But when it was a nail biter, shouldn't the better ball handling team or the well-oiled delay game team win? Isn't that part of the strategy?

I know, some of you are like my mom used to be. She hated how the offensive guards would put on a clinic as the defensive guards darted back and forth hoping for a steal. But oh, when their persistence paid off with a steal and a bucketwhat a game! Besides, to be a guard, one needs to be little bit of a show-off, don't you think?

Running a delay game is a big risk. And every basketball fan from South Dakota in the late 70s to early 80s will remember when the Huron College Tribe ran one. The college was only thirty minutes from our farm, so Dad and I went to many of their games.

picture from South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame

Eddie Boyd, Mel Smith, Spinkle, and Coach Bruce Carrier were household names in east central South Dakota. Sprinkle would tick off Carrier so bad he'd get sent to the showers in the first half, sit at the end of the bench in street clothes, but then after half-time, Sprinkle would be back in his jersey playing. Rumor had it some of the little old ladies in town attended games just to yell at Carrier. 

And boy did he get criticized for his delay game tactic in the NAIA playoffs one year. Our teachers let us listen to the play-by-play on the radio during school, but I believe this particular game was in the evening, so we listened at home.

The Tribe literally stalled the entire second half. One player stood in the corner of the court and held the ball. It didn't even pass the hashmark (not a Twitter term). That rule wasn't in place yet. They wanted the last shot of the game to win it, but they flubbed. I can't remember all the details of it except that it was another one of Carrier's controversial coaching maneuvers. It would be interesting to know whatever became of him and his players.

What experience do you have with the old jump ball rule or the four-corner delay tactic? And for my South Dakota readers, what's your favorite Huron Tribe memory?


  1. I love learning this about you. I've never known much about basketball. I was never too good at any sport ... too girly, I guess. My mom was great at volleyball. I do love tennis now though ... when I force myself to watch or play. :)

    1. It'd probably surprise you then that I did it here at my school for 17 of my 26 years! All assistant girls' basketball at high school and middle school levels. Oh tennis--so fun. Stamina is a must for that sport. As a high schooler, I talked Mom into buying me subscription to tennis magazine (back when McEnroe was the big name). I bet you'd like golf. Ever tried it?