SWEET 16: Sweet 16 is different from any other game

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By John Herndon

Even before a team gets to the state tournament it is apparent things are just different when there are only 16 high school basketball teams from across the state still playing the game.

Just getting there is a huge deal, no matter how often it happens. How big? Anderson County's girls' basketball team was met by a police escort when it got to the Franklin County line on the way back from North Oldham High School last Wednesday.

Since then, head coach Tony Kays has been fielding calls from media across the state, something that does not happen during the regular season. He's had several interviews with The Anderson News since last Wednesday.

There are advance ticket sales, spirit gear sales and a pep rally to send the Lady Bearcats off to Bowling Green was planned for Tuesday afternoon.

Teams will sleep in hotels and eat at restaurants for the duration of the trip. Most teams have not done that during the season.

Those off the court differences are expected. It is how teams handle some of the on-the court differences that will play a major role in how well they play in Diddle Arena.

The court is longer.

A regulation high school court is 84 feet long and 50 feet wide. Playing on a college floor, like Diddle, adds 10 feet to the floor's length. Conventional wisdom is that favors more athletic teams or teams with longer benches.


Media influence

In the Sweet 16, media timeouts are built into the schedule, just like TV timeouts for college basketball. At the Sweet 16, the timeouts are set at the first dead ball after the 3:00 mark in each quarter. That can play a role in momentum and certainly is a consideration when a coach is considering a time out with the break approaching.

There are other differences in regard to the media. A sideline reporter will be there for the statewide radio network and coaches will be expected to talk with him at halftime. During the regular season, district and regional tournament games utilize a 10-minute halftime. At the state, it is 15 minutes.

The good thing for all teams is the differences are the same for everyone. How they all handled the changes will play a role in crowing a state champion Saturday night.


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