Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Officiating Camp: Ray Floriani's Photo Essay

LINDEN, NJ – June 11. The officials appearing in televised games and/or contests in spacious field houses and public arenas work in the rarified air of the profession. How do they get there? Get discovered ? Maybe. A more certain path is to improve and get noticed. Today, one of the best and probably essential ways is to accomplish the aforementioned is go to an officiating camp. The camps are here not only to help those aspiring to Division One. They serve usefulness for those looking to get better and work a better high school schedule.

Last week, Dennis Allocco hosted the Next Level Officiating Camp at Linden High School in New Jersey. Allocco works the Atlantic Ten and Northeast Conferences, and is a veteran of attending camps such as the ones run by the late Edgar Cartotto.

“The team camp is four nights and I gave the campers the option to come the nights they are able,” Allocco said as a boys' high school game was in progress. The fee charged for attendance would be adjusted accordingly. “Guys have jobs and other commitments and may not be able to get here every night,“ Allocco said. “I totally understand that.”

The camp here has 28 officials in total. Some are working high school looking to improve their schedules, while others are trying to break into regular high school varsity and a few already working lower division college looking to get on the fast track that may some day lead to Division I.

Officials are utilizing the three man system and working the Linden High School team camp. Officiating crews rotate by halves or quarters.

“How long will you let him hang there?” Allocco exclaims. A player has dunked and hung on the rim a bit too long. No technical was called. Critique can be given during action, but is usually reserved for timeouts or in between quarters. Not all critique is pointing out mistakes, as Allocco, a few minutes following his ’rim’s assessment shouts, “Good job! Way to step down, Kevin.”

Assisting Allocco is Guy Pagano, a veteran of conferences as the NEC and MAAC. We discuss game management, ‘the whole key to officiating,” per Pagano. Example, Team A is down 30 with no hope of getting back. A call is close, give it to team A and move on. Shortly after discussing game management, Pagano points out to one official he should not have called a palm against a team down 40. “You let it go before, why call it now?” Pagano asks.

After introductions of yours truly by Allocco, it is time to take the floor. Our game is Hackettstown and Union Catholic, both New Jersey schools. One of my fellow crew members is Harold Motley. “Don’t forget to mention me, Ray,’ he says. Harold is a longtime officiating friend with whom I most recently worked with at the Bayonne Men’s League last summer.

Good to see him out on the floor again. The game is going well. I am working comfortably with my partners. Behind me, I hear Allocco jokingly say, “Guy, easy on the criticism, Ray is writing about this.” The main critique comes from Guy. On free throws in the C (Corner) position, I am foul line extended at the sideline. “Move in a few feet,” Guy advises. Those few feet can give a better look and insure you do not get straight lined. “You are hanging out with Brian O’Connell too much,” he adds in jest. Both Dennis and Guy have worked with Brian, whom they have the utmost respect for. The comment jokingly was in reference to a recent article regarding officiating with Brian in AAU ball. Later, I get a good comment from Dennis and Guy on taking a charge call and calling it emphatically.

Dennis reminds us tossing a jump ball to start the game to release high, not waist level, as yours truly does too often. A high release prevents a jumper from ‘stealing’ a tap.

My partners the second half are Mark McGlynn and Steve Dunn. Mark is from nearby Cranford, but grew up weaned on Jersey Shore basketball and is well versed in the Red Bank Catholics, St. John Vianneys and CBAs of that area. Dunn stands about 6-­6 and played on a conference titlist at Trinity College in Connecticut. Both were great to work with. Hackettstown shoots threes at will. Enough to earn a 66-­60 victory.

After working, I spent time talking with Guy. He notes how the New York City high school officials are so good. “The level of ball is excellent there (New York),” he says. “If you make it, you will only get better by officiating better players and games.” Guy terms ‘process’ the key word of the night. “You have to process what happens on each play and make the call or no call.” He brings back that palming violation noted before saying there you have to ‘process’ the fact a team is getting beaten badly, they commit a violation that does not stand out. so you pass on it, as not calling the infraction will not change the outcome.

When the games finished, we huddled with Dennis and Guy to get a few more ideas. The camp has several sites with the officiating camp only held at the high school. Dennis tells us tomorrow’s games should be better as a few strong teams are coming from different gyms. Good night and safe travels are wished to all.

Dennis Allocco goes over a situation with a camper:
Guy Pagano explains a point with campers, with fellow official Harold Motley on the far left:

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