Published December 30, 2020
By STEPHEN MARTELLUCCI
LYNNFIELD — Being a high school varsity head coach in your first year is challenging enough during a regular season.
For Lynnfield High boys’ basketball coach John Bakopolus, it is even tougher with all of the rule changes the MIAA (Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association) has installed due to the coronavirus.
To start the game, a flip of a coin will take place instead of a jump ball. There will be no halftime, with expanded rest periods of two minutes and 30 seconds in between the quarters.
“It is going to be tough not to be able to make the adjustments that you normally would during halftime,” admitted Bakopolus. “But, it is that way for both teams.”
Instead of coaches installing an out of bounds play from under the basket they are shooting at when the ball goes out on the baseline, the ball will be inbounded from the sidelines instead.
“The defense will have an advantage not having to worry about inbound plays under the basket,” said Bakopolus.
Another big rule change is that instead of six players crowding the lane on a free throw situation, only four players will be allowed to be in the boxes.
“With the shooter and two players in the lane, the offense will have the 3-on-2 advantage with only two defenders,” said Bakopolus, who feels like the Cape Ann League might adjust that rule before the season starts to take away that advantage.
Another rule, In order to avoid unnecessary contact while managing time at the end of the game for a trailing team trying to stop the clock, a team representative will notify the official if they are planning to foul a player receiving the inbounds pass. Once the defensive team lightly fouls the receiving offensive player the official will stop the play and call it.
All players will wear masks and no fans will be allowed, at least at the start of the season.
The game ball will be changed after each quarter and players will be spread out when they are on the bench sitting in the stands for social distancing purposes.
“Coaches are going to have to be creative,” said Bakopolus.
Due to the pandemic, all Cape Ann League teams will play each other once for a 10-game schedule. There will be no non league games and the league is hoping to have a league playoff in February. Each school in the league will play five home and five road games.
Just like for the fall sports, there will be no MIAA state tournament.
The LHS boys’ basketball team is scheduled to open the season on Jan. 5. They were originally slated to play Pentucket but they will now host Manchester-Essex instead. Tip-off is at 5:30 p.m.