That’s Nacho Call

While this article might make you hungry 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?

These are my “nacho calls” — so which one’s do YOU have? Leave our Ref60 readers not hungry more more. Extra cheese please!

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9 thoughts on “That’s Nacho Call

  1. Billy, great article can we get some information on time and distance on double teams low post as the offensive player begins spin on primary defender and secondary defender steps into path of offensive move to get the marginal call for offensive player control call.

    Question is time and distance responsibility of the secondary defender on marginal contact considered on this play?


    1. From my perspective … time and distance are not considered here, as there is a player in control of the ball. Provided the secondary defender establishes a legal guarding position and moves properly (laterally, obliquely, backward). If there’s contact — I have a foul, even if it looked fishy. Thoughts?

      1. Agreed just feel we see that call on the offensive foul spin and looks like marginal contact with secondary defender…thoughts are patient whistle would not reward the defense on marginal contact…obviously contact to and through the defender would be a player control foul…

        Thanks for the reply as always wish you and your staff continued success…

  2. Bill, during pregame and in reference to your “Nacho Calls, i like to talk about “letting the play finish 100%” in that ref’s primary area before another ref out of his primary is thinking of calling something .

    1. Great comment Bill … especially in high school officiating we are best to stay closer to primary versus reaching. I think NBA and even D1 NCAA officials that work 60-100 games really get good about reaching to help a partner. But that comes with expertise. For younger officials, staying in your PCA is (in my opinion) the way to teach and practice.

  3. Nacho – Dribbler crosses mid court near the sideline on C side. A trap occurs. The T starts a five second call when the C should come back initiate a rotation and referee the play.

    General comment – marginal contact, work hard to eliminate “game interrupter” calls when there is minor contact but 0 effect on Rythum, Speed, Balance Quickness.

    1. John, I really do talk about this one too — where the Trail takes that first closely guarded (5 sec) count as the dribbler crosses the division line, on the Center’s side. Love the RSBQ focus as well. thank you

  4. The funny thing about “Nacho Calls” is that they are usually wrong.
    Unfortunately I made one last night, which is prompting this comment.
    Excellent, as usual guys! Hope to see you soon.

  5. ….when you’re right, you’re wrong……..when you’re wrong, you’re screwed (putting it politely)

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