Before he became varsity girls basketball coach at Post Falls High, Marc Allert was a longtime boys assistant at Post Falls.
“During a JV game one of my first few years, a ref was having a hard time — neither team was real happy with the way things were being officiated,” Allert recalled. “We were whistled for a foul and as the ref is reporting the foul the other coach says something and gets a ‘T’ (technical foul). The ref gets frustrated and confused on how to administer the foul and the ‘T’ and ends up with wrong kids shooting at the wrong end — it was a cluster.
“Now no one is happy — players, fans, scorekeepers, coaches, other officials — it was a mess. By the time everything is said and done I have 2 ‘Ts’ and am kicked out of the game. I guess he didn’t like my friendly suggestions on how to solve the situation. Now he is really confused on how to administer everything — and I am not there to offer my insightful suggestions.
“For a kicker, just before I go into the locker room, after I’ve been kicked out, he runs over and says, ‘Coach, I hate to ask, but do you remember who the original foul was on?’
“At that point I was done talking,” Allert said.
DAVE CORNELIA, now retired, first coached boys basketball and later girls basketball at Lewiston High.
“Had a particular North Idaho official in a game,” he recalled. “During one questioning of calls, he told me fouls were 7 to 7, what was I complaining about? The next year, the fouls before half were 8 to 1 and I questioned him on that. He said his job was to call the game, not to even up the fouls.
“So I mentioned the year before when he said, ‘The fouls were even, what are you complaining about?’
“I got a technical when pointing that out.”
LARRY BIEBER prides himself on the fact that, in more than a quarter-century of coaching basketball, he never received a technical foul.
“Because once you do, you’re not helping your team,” he said. “You’re not playing with poise, like I tell my kids to do.”
However one time, when he was boys varsity coach at Coeur d’Alene, he got away with a rant that would have normally earned him a ‘T.’
“Dan Malcolm was calling our game against Lake City, and it was a really tight game,” Bieber recalled. “He totally blew this call ... the fans were just going nuts. So I called him over, and usually I’m pretty laid back. He comes over, and he motions for me to come out on the court. He wanted to get me away from where everybody could hear what we were talking about. I went out there and I was pissed.
“He said ‘Larry, just listen to me. Yes, I did blow that call. But you know I can’t change it. So here’s the deal. You can go ballistic in my face and plead your case, and jump around, and I don’t care what you do, as long as you don’t swear. If you don’t use profanity, I’ll let you get away with just going ballistic on me.’
“So I took the opportunity,” Bieber said. “I jumped up and down. I got red in the face. I really did take advantage of the opportunity ... And when I was done I looked back at my coaches and they’re like, ‘What the heck is happening?’ Because usually I don’t act that way. And I didn’t get tossed, but I felt really good about how I defended my team and had their back.”
BILL ADAMS, the former Sandpoint High boys basketball coach, told a ref story that “didn’t happen to me, but I think it’s one of the funniest I’ve heard of.”
It happened during a game at Sandpoint, though.
“There was a call made, and the coach was out in the middle of the floor,” Adams recalled. “And the official came up to him and says, ‘I don’t know how you got here, but it’s going to cost you one technical for every step on the way back.’ He called timeout, and had two players come out and carry him off the floor. And the official just stood there and scratched his head like, ‘Oh, crap, I didn’t think about that.’”
COACHES: If you are a current or former basketball coach in North Idaho, and have stories you’d like to share of crazy bus trips, humorous encounters with referees or bizarre occurences during games, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark Nelke is sports editor of The Press. He can be reached at 664-8176, Ext. 2019, or via email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter@CdAPressSports.