SIDELINE SLANTS

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JOE KLEINSASSER
Being both a basketball official and sports columnist, I’m used to having my judgment questioned. After all, if I had good judgment I’d do other things when I’m not working.

But cheap jokes aside, you can accuse me of having a different, and I hope interesting, perspective.

Hillsboro faithful were understandably disappointed when the local high school teams lost both sub-state final games to Hesston High School.

But we would do well to remember that Hesston has been good to us in a lot of ways.

Tabor College basketball coach and athletic director Don Brubacher hails from Hesston. Consider the impact he has had since arriving on the Hillsboro athletic scene.

Brubacher was a good athlete in his own right and graduated from Tabor. He has been extremely successful coaching men’s basketball at Tabor College.

As a result of residing in Hillsboro, Don and Janette have raised three sons here, and they have contributed mightily to the basketball success of the Trojans and Bluejays.

Rusty Allen doesn’t hail from Hesston, but he was the boys’ basketball coach for the Swathers before being named women’s basketball coach at Tabor.

All he did was transform the Bluejays from also-rans into contenders in the NAIA national tournament.

Then there’s the little-known fact that the Hesston High boys’ coach once helped me scrape my windshield from snow and ice after a game in Hesston a few years ago.

Maybe he did so out of kindness. Maybe he did so because he thought that with my vision, I needed all the help I could get.

You be the judge.

* * *

Tabor had great basketball seasons, but a lousy KCAC tournament.

Both the men and women were bounced in the first round.

Granted, the incentive for winning the tournament isn’t great for conference champions, because by virtue of winning the regular season title they’re guaranteed a spot in the national tournament.

That leaves the regular-season champion essentially playing for pride. In Tabor’s case, playing for pride alone wasn’t enough incentive to do well in the postseason tournament.

As long as the KCAC automatically gets two teams into the national tournament, why not keep the regular-season champion out of the conference tournament? Let the last two teams in the 10-team conference play for the right to get into the KCAC tournament, and then have an eight-team national qualifying tournament during a three-day span.

* * *

In the “If the shoe fits, wear it” category, consider the following story. I learned of the story second-hand, so I’m sure that I’m paraphrasing somewhat.

An athletic director from one of our fine Kansas high schools was less than pleased with how his school’s fans, including his wife, were acting at basketball games.

After a sub-state loss, the athletic director and his spouse were driving home while listening to a K-State/KU basketball game on the radio.

After hearing a referee’s whistle, the athletic director blurted out something like, “I can’t believe that call. That’s a terrible call.”

A few moments later another referee’s whistle was heard on the radio. The athletic director shouted, “He’s in no position to make that call. How can he make that call? That’s awful!”

After listening a little longer the athletic director ripped another official’s call. Finally his wife said, “What are you doing?”

He replied, “I just want you to see how our fans sound, and how you sound when you complain about calls all of the time at games.”

I understand the rest of the drive home was quiet.

* * *

A popular nonathletic humorist is credited with comparing tennis with bowling. He claims to have lots of fun bowling because you can enjoy yourself even if you stink.

Not so tennis. He claims that every decade or so, he attempts to play a match. That match generally consists of 37 seconds of actually hitting the ball and two hours of yelling, “Where did the ball go?” “Last time I saw it, it was sailing over that condominium,” and so forth.

With bowling, once you let go of the ball, it’s no longer your legal responsibility. They also have these wonderful machines that find your ball for you and send it right back.

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