College basketball coaches, accustomed to roving the sidelines and questioning (to put it mildly) decisions by referees, may find it confining to stay in the NCAA's new "coaches box."
But the wife of one, in a letter to the NCAA Rules Committee, said she finds the new rule has been liberating for her and her sons--and even good for her husband.
The rule limits a coach to an area that starts at the base line and extends 28 feet along the sidelines, stopping in front of the end of the team's bench and away from the scorer's table.
If a coach leaves his restricted area, with two exceptions, a two-shot technical foul may be called. During dead-ball timeouts, he may leave the area with impunity to check something with the scorer or to talk to an official about a rule interpretation.
In her letter to the NCAA, Sally Harrick, wife of Pepperdine Coach Jim Harrick, said in part:
"I knew in my heart that if we coaching wives were patient enough . . . sooner or later the 'Big Coach in the Sky' would smile upon us and give us a special blessing.
"After years of our own pressure and (the) stress of watching our husbands (angels and good fathers that they are at home) become ranting, raving strangers to us on the basketball court, we have been blessed--you gave us the 'COACHING BOX.'
"Thank you! God bless you! May you have many years of good health and happiness.
"I have never enjoyed a season more. Instead of (my) having to remind him of watching his bench conduct and (to) please try to avoid technicals, the silent little box is there.
"Jim Valvano (the North Carolina State basketball coach) made the statement that it was like asking an Italian not to use his hands. Well, my husband comes from a similar background where hand movements and being vocal are part of his personality. But he has privately told me the Coaching Box has been very good for him. Heaven forbid any of his peers should find out--complaining about new NCAA rules is part of a coach's repertoire. . . ."
Coach Harrick must not have waved his arms and griped when he discovered that Mrs. Harrick had written the letter. He sent a copy of it to The Times with a note that said, "See what you can do with this."
Since becoming the University of Arizona's interim point guard six games ago, sophomore Steve Kerr, of Pacific Palisades and Palisades High School, has been playing exceptional ball. The 6-2 Kerr is averaging 38 minutes a game, 10.3 points, 5.8 assists, 1.5 turnovers and one steal a contest.
Kerr played all 40 minutes in games at California and Stanford. The Arizona Sports Information Department calls Kerr the "greatest recruiting find" in Coach Lute Olson's career.
Only Gonzaga had offered a scholarship when Kerr accepted one from Olson in August, 1983, after Olson had seen him in a summer league game.
Kerr will move back to the off-guard spot when Brock Brunkhorst returns from the injury list.
The Cal-Hi Sports newsletter rates Santa Monica High School eighth in the state in its basketball poll. Crenshaw is the top-ranked team. On the girls side, Culver City High is rated fifth. The top team is Compton.