With a focus on improving the on-court action for fans, head coaches from the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and 7DAYS EuroCup held their annual meetings with the Euroleague Basketball officiating department over two days in Barcelona this week.
Head coaches, referees get a jump on the 2022-23 season
Their day-long sessions drew upon lessons learned from more than 500 games across both competitions last season to identify ways in which the fan experience might be enhanced going forward.
Better understanding of rules interpretations and applications between referees and head coaches, who in turn pass on that information to their players, is part of a process every summer that aims to keep games clean at the same time as it makes them more exciting.
"Basketball is the only sport where you can switch the rules between one season and another to improve the game and make it more fun for the fans," Alex Mumbru, the new head coach of Valencia Basket, said after the meeting. "What's most important is for the fans to come to the gyms and see the best basketball in Europe. So it's important for the coaches, the referees and the clubs to be in agreement. We all want a great show."
Among the agenda items discussed in the meetings were officiating criteria applied in low-post situations and the circumstances surrounding unsportsmanlike foul calls. Another emphasis was off-ball situations with an eye toward enhancing freedom of movement for offensive players.
Being able to offer their direct opinions on how the games should be officiated next season proved a valuable opportunity for all of the head coaches.
"At the end of the day, we play this game for the fans to come in our gym, to support us, to watch and to enjoy the games," Dusan Alimpijevic, head coach of Frutti Extra Bursaspor, said. "Everything that EuroLeague and EuroCup are doing right now goes in that direction -- to improve the game, to make it more attractive, quicker and faster. For all of us coaches, it's really important to be involved in this and to affect somehow these decisions."
Just like the coaches will take conclusions from meetings straight to their players and staffs in training camps, next steps for the officiating department include educating the referees on what was agreed this week at the collective's annual preseason clinic, to be held in late August.
"The consistent evolution of the game, both how it is played and how it is officiated, explains why basketball is so dynamic and why we strive to get ahead of the curve each summer," Richard Stokes, Senior Director of Officiating at Euroleague Basketball, said. "Having the coaches contribute like this now, early in the process, is essential to the goal of sharpening what we all do to make the game better season to season."