PCA and "NACHOS"

By Billy Martin 2 weeks ago With this post we are focusing on the more common mistakes officials experience when calling out of their PCA.


I remember a funny chant my daughter’s softball team would sing every time the umpire would call a questionable strike on a pitch that appeared to be outside the strike zone. It had the words — “that’s nacho pitch, that’s nacho pitch …” — which I always found amusing.


Well that same twist of words applies to a basketball official’s Primary Coverage Area (PCA) when we look at plays that are considered “nacho calls” and outside of your PCA.

These are plays where we “reach” to whistle them and are really not in the scope of our coverage areas.Let’s take a look at a few three-person crew examples. Maybe you have some “nacho calls” to add (below in comments)? We’d love to hear about them too.


Nacho Call #1: Trail whistles into the low block.


This would probably be my #1 “nacho call” that I see more often than not when observing games. As tempting as it might be to blow the whistle –an aggressive Trail referee (being in fairly tight) should lay off this call since it’s out of their PCA.


Think about the feeling your Lead official has when the Trail dips way down to pull that foul out from under their nose. Not so good, most likely.


Suggestion: Allow your Lead official, who is in the better position to see the play – based on angle and distance – to make this ruling. While sometimes the Trail might have a look at some “back-side” illegal contact, let the Lead take a first crack at the foul and refrain from blowing this far outside your PCA.


Nacho Call #2: Lead takes dribble-drives to basket on Center’s side of basket line.


In a two-person crew, we ask the Lead Official to be diligent in refereeing the entire “paint area” when in a closed down position. However in a three-person crew, we have a very capable Center Official poised to take that drive to the basket.


Suggestion: Remember the Lead should be in a relaxed position and have a patient whistle. When plays originate on the opposite side of the basket line and you are not rotating (just closed down) — just be more patient and allow your crew-mate to pick up that foul. If there is a “train-wreck” in the lane area then someone MUST get the contact foul. In this case it’s better to be late and right versus early and wrong as the Lead. Give your Center the opportunity to get engaged in the play and make that call.


Nacho Call #3: Both Center (and Trail) are watching 3-point shooter.


If you have two officials signaling a 3-point attempt then who is watching off the ball? Remember, when you follow an airborne shooter they should be watched all the way through the play — until it’s completely over. We certainly don’t need two officials watching the matchup in this area.


Suggestion: If both the Trail and Center official signal for the 3-point try — the Center should DROP the signal and turn inward to watch rebounding action. Only one official (the Trail) should stay with that play all the way through. When in doubt, the Center should always opt for looking in versus out. We want an active Center Official cleaning up rebound fouls and protecting the Lead’s backside.While these three “nacho calls” seem obvious, they appear in virtually every game observed this year for me. The suggestions (provided above) are actually pre-game talking “points of emphasis” when you are reviewing the Primary Coverage Areas and some sticky situations in the locker-room with your crew.


Could that be one of your “post-game” feedback questions? Did we have any “nacho calls” today?

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