Blum: How to properly rip the refs

Show up and don’t get arrested. Those are the two basic rules of being a fan; everything else is icing on the cake. Iowa State basketball fans are among the best at both of these qualifications and also receive high marks in picking up the team when they need a lift and rewarding intelligent basketball plays. Hilton Coliseum has a reputation as one of the nation’s best arenas because of these factors.

So what follows here is not an indictment of the great fandom of the Cyclone Nation, but merely a few suggestions to add to the already stellar reputation.

You see, Iowa State’s relationships with basketball officials has always been a sore subject. Ames features some of the friendliest individuals in the upper Midwest; yet during a college basketball game, the three officials become the most despicable creatures in the state. I’ve seen seemingly cordial 80 year old men in Hilton chastise the zebras with more tenacity than Fran McCaffery or Bo Pelini. It is as if Iowans bottle up all of their friendly discord and unleash it on the men in stripes. Some of this visceral dislike is obviously warranted (I present last year’s Kansas game to the jury as Exhibit A.)

At other times, folks appear to be hollering just because they think they should. The Brick Tamland, "I DON’T KNOW WHAT WE ARE YELLING ABOUT!" theory.

I’m hopefully here to help. I love the emoting of the fan-base, but want it channeled in the proper regard. As the self proclaimed officiating apologist in Iowa, below are a couple rules that are commonly misunderstood and make some look like buffoons rather than educated contrarians.

Once mastered, officials can be adequately adjudicated. After all, Ames is one of the most educated cities in the nation.

Over the Back

This is the most misunderstood phrase in all of basketball. In reality, there is no such rule as "Over the Back." Somewhere along the line, this phrase got invented to simplify the "principle of verticality." Rebounding is governed by the aforementioned principle of verticality, which means every player is entitled to a spot on the floor. He is allowed to jump vertically within his established space and have his hands and arms extended within his vertical plane. He is allowed this opportunity without regard to where his opponent is positioned.

A foul occurs when a player leaves their vertical space and "displaces" another opponent. So, if someone has rebound position on Melvin Ejim and Ejim jumps over that opponent without displacing them, NO foul should be called. Just because a rebounder has inside position does not guarantee they are rewarded with a rebound or foul; they have to be displaced or moved in order for a foul to be called.

I feel like a physics degree is needed to understand all that, but to make it easy, the next time you feel the urge to holler, "OVER THE BACK" switch it up to a more eloquent, "THAT’S DISPLACEMENT!"

The first cousins of  "Over the Back" are "All Ball" and "Straight Up." A dissertation, a case of Tylenol and a bottle of Templeton are needed to try to clarity those phrases.  Baby steps.

Sliding with the Ball and High Dribble

These two numskull happenstances appear to be violations, but actually are not. If the ball is loose on the floor and DeAndre Kane dives on it, he can slide on the floor ’till his heart desires. The violation occurs if Kane were to roll over or stand up. But if Kane decides he wants to get his Sochi Olympics on and  impersonate a Curling stone, more power to him. That is not a travel.

The high dribble always gets the seasoned veterans in the crowd up in arms. Anytime the ball is dribbled above jersey number height, the older folks go nuts, "Sonny, that’s a carry! What is with this modern technology, newfangled dribbling and smart phones, Bob Cousy would never disgrace the game like that!"

In all actuality, as long as a hand is on top of the ball and the ball does not come to rest on said hand, a guy can dribble as high as he wants. Think of it as the Denver rule; you can be high all day and all night.

Three Seconds

We all sit by a connoisseur  of the "Three Second" rule. They think their lone responsibility at the game is to closely monitor any nefarious three second activity in the paint. They are the NSA of the basketball lane.

The rule reads pretty simple; no part of the body can be in the lane for three consecutive seconds. But it is not so cut and dried. What many people don’t know is the three second count resets any time a shot is attempted and also gets largely ignored if a player with possession of the ball attempts a move toward the basket. So if Joel Embiid plays volleyball with himself underneath the basket for twenty straight seconds, he is not in violation.

The officials are constantly barking at the big guys things like, "Hey number forty get out of the lane" and will give players the benefit of the doubt if an effort is being made to move their back-side. Three second violations rarely get called because of this.

It’d be wise for the three second connoisseur to focus efforts elsewhere like complaining about the price of Arby’s relative to the other fast food establishments.

Backcourt Violation

You know the basics of this rule. A player cannot touch the ball in the back court after it has been in the front court. The Yu Darvish curve ball occurs in regards to what defines "control" in the front court.

In order to be declared to have control in the front-court, three elements have to have all crossed the half-court line: both feet of the controlling player AND the ball.

So if Monte Morris crosses the half-court line with both feet and the ball is still behind the half-court line, he can legally retreat into the back-court without violation. If Naz Long is straddling the half court line and dribbling in the front court, he also could step back into the back-court without penalty as long as one foot never crossed. It is "The Three Stooges" rule: Moe and Larry don’t commit a violation without Curly. 

With these small nuggets of knowledge, Hilton Magic can gain an extra layer of sophistication. But If all else fails and you still feel jobbed by the officials, yet don’t know the correct rule interpretation, a boisterous BOOOO always gets the job done. Gotta hang onto the fastball.