A move meant to help girls basketball gain more attention at the end of the season is causing big-time concern for the beginning of the season.
The IHSAA Board of Directors at is annual meeting Monday approved the moving of the girls basketball season up a week, meaning the state finals will now be on the Saturday before boys sectional action begins. In the past, the girls state finals and boys sectional finals have been on the same day.
While that may help attendance at the girls state finals, coaches are worried that the beginning of the season — now a week earlier — will cause even more conflict with volleyball. The first week of girls basketball practice will be the week of volleyball sectionals.
“They made what they thought was the best decision they could make, and we’ll make the best of it,” Columbus North girls basketball coach Pat McKee said.
The issue will be larger at small schools such as Hauser, where several girls play both volleyball and basketball.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” Hauser girls basketball coach Brad Hamilton said. “It will be somewhat of a disadvantage in that some of our kids do play volleyball. But if we have a good summer of conditioning now that we have a year under our belt, it will be a positive.”
Several coaches from around the state weighed in Friday on an email sent to IHSAA assistant commissioner Sandra Walter from Culver Academies girls basketball coach Gary Christlieb. Nearly all expressed concern about the overlap between volleyball and basketball.
But at Columbus East, where few girls play both sports, the concern isn’t as large.
“I understand the whole idea (of moving the season up), and I kind of like it,” East girls basketball coach Danny Brown said. “We were in the state finals one year, and no one in the area was still playing. Everybody was out, but that was sectional finals night. But that’s not going to happen all the time.
“I don’t mind the earlier start,” he said. “You only need a few practices to get ready, and you know your teams from playing in the summer. That doesn’t bother me at all.”
Meanwhile, the IHSAA also approved Monday the addition of two games to boys and girls basketball seasons. Instead of playing 20 games or 18 games plus a tournament, schools can now play 22 games or 20 games plus a tournament.
“I don’t mind that because we had 20 games, but we had a gap of two weeks where we didn’t have a game (scheduled), and then with the weather and cancellations, we went three weeks without a game,” Brown said. “That might be a good situation for us if we can plug in two more games.
“At the same time, it would be nice if those extra games could be on a weekend on Friday or Saturday,” he said. “I don’t want to add a game where you have to travel an hour-and-a-half on a weeknight.
You don’t want kids getting home after midnight.”
On the same day the extra games proposal was passed, McKee received an email from Roncalli, asking about filling one of the new spots, and the teams agreed to meet the next two years. East boys coach Brent Chitty has also received inquiries from schools wanting to add the Olympians to the schedule.
“It’s great to be able to play because everybody likes to play games,” Chitty said. “I think it’s going to be kind of crazy because you start doing it right away. I’ve had some people call us, but you have to make sure the schedule works out. I’m excited for the kids.”
“I think we’ll definitely look into trying to take advantage of (the extra games),” North boys coach Jason Speer said. “The kids put so much time in trying to work on their game, and two more times for competition would be great.”
Hamilton said he probably won’t schedule games the first week of the season because of the overlap with volleyball. The Jets volleyball team has made it to the regional the past four years and the semistate two of the past three seasons.
But Hamilton does plan to add the two games in the middle to late part of the season.
“It’s nice for them to pick up some new opponents,” Hamilton said. “I feel like you learn anytime you pick up a new opponent.”
Among other basketball changes, the IHSAA is increasing the length of junior varsity quarters from six to seven minutes, will allow players to enter the lane on the free-throw release instead of waiting until the ball hits the rim and plans to call hand-checks tighter.
“I like the seven-minute quarters for JV because it seems like sometimes those games are over in a flash,” McKee said. “That will give kids a chance to play a little more.
“I also like the two extra games,” he said. “If you look around, it seems that most states are able to play more than Indiana. I think the kids will like it.”
Brown likes the seven-minute quarters rule for JV games.
“Anytime you get the kids more playing time, that’s why you play the game,” Brown said. “My only concern is, an extra four minutes of playing time could mean an extra 15-20 minutes, and if you’re on the road, that could mean a late return home.”
The IHSAA also tabled a proposal that would reduce the number of classes from four to three, with each of the three classes having two divisions.
The proposal has drawn mixed reactions around the state.
“I think everybody realizes it’s time for some change,” Chitty said. “We’re never going to go back to one-class basketball. In this day and age, there’s so many good teams and parity. I am for change if it’s the best thing for kids in Indiana.
“There’s a lot of good people involved, and I think they’ll make a good decision when that time comes,” he said. “Like anything else, it’s going to be about money, and I’m sure they’ll do it the proper way. The days of Damon Bailey playing and 60,000 people going to watch people play are over, but they have to create revenue.”