Dibler keeping officials, WAC happy
BY DARRELL MOODY
Appeal Sports Writer
The toughest job during the Western Athletic Conference basketball season probably belongs to Bobby Dibler.
If you haven't been an avid follower of college basketball over the past 20 years, you probably don't know Dibler's background, which includes three Final Four appearances and 15 NCAA appearances as an official.
Dibler serves as the WAC's supervisor of men's basketball officials. It's actually his second go-round with the WAC. He worked with the WAC back in the '90s. He assigns officials for both the WAC and the Mountain West Conference.
It's not an easy job. Officials, whether high school or college, are usually independent contractors, thus aren't fully aligned with any one conference, and therein lies the problem.
Dibler said he has between 65 and 70 officials he uses for his two conferences.
It's Dibler's job to sell the WAC and MWC to his group of officials, and that's not an easy chore when you are competing with the Pac-10, West Coast Conference, Big West, the Missouri Valley Conference, Conference USA and Big 12 for bodies.
"Officials want to work every night," Dibler said before a recent Nevada basketball game. "The more game assignments you have the better chance you have to get their ear. I have twice as many games, so that's a real positive.
"Saturdays are the toughest. If you have 300 games on a Saturday, you need 450 officials. I'm after the same top 50 to 70 officials the other conferences are. I go deeper in my staff on Saturdays."
Dibler said the WAC uses a four-tier salary structure, and the guys at the top of the structure are the officials with NCAA Tournament experience. Officials receive a game fee plus hotel, airfare and per diem.
Dibler refused to disclose the range from the bottom tier to the top tier, but he says the WAC is competitive in its pay structure.
Dibler doesn't see things changing where certain officials will only work in certain conferences.
Assigning is a science, and not an easy one. You want to put the right people on the right games, and you also want to have the right people working together. It's also about building trust and relationships.
"I know the history," Dibler said. "I know about the rivalries. You certainly want to have strong crews on those games."
Dibler has been without two of his stronger officials many times this year. Tim Gabutero is ill and won't come back to work, and Bill Gracey has knee problems. Dibler said Gracey may be coming back in a couple of weeks.
One of the most difficult juggling acts Dibler has to undertake is making sure one team doesn't see the same officials too often, and that's difficult to do when your officials also work for other conferences.
Dibler was happy to see the bench decorum rule come into play this year, and he thinks it is here to stay.
Basically the new rule says that only one coach can be up during live-ball situations. It also keeps the coaches on the sidelines and not out on the floor as in past years.
"We had some technical fouls called in the non-conference season, and by and large most of those were called against the visiting coaches - not our coaches," Dibler said. "Ninety percent of the time the rules committee makes a rule, that rule sticks. We've had a number of warnings, but not a lot. Ask me in February, and I might have a different answer."
Nevada has the best Ratings Percentage Index in the WAC at 82 and the Pack's strength of schedule is at 112. The WAC is ranked 22nd as a conference.
This is normally the time of the year when Nevada and other schools would look closely at the numbers. It's a waste of time this year, because the WAC is a one-bid league, so it will come down to the four days of the WAC Tournament in Las Cruces, N.M.
"In past years, I had an RPI report given to me each week,'' Nevada coach Mark Fox said. "This year, we're still operating the same way. I looked at one yesterday. We like to have an idea where we fit. You can't control the way the math is going to play out, so you can't worry too much about it."
DECISION TIME TODAY
Utah State coach Stew Morrill, who wasn't on Monday's teleconference, is expected to make decision determining the fate of four players he sent home Friday after the quartet violated team rules.
Stephen DuCharme, Pooh Williams, Desmond Stephens and redshirt freshman Jaxon Myaer were sent home and didn't play Saturday in the Aggies' 100-70 loss to New Mexico State.
According to the Deseret Morning News, Utah State athletic director Randy Spetman said the violation of team rules happened when the team was in Ruston, La.
The players in question were the first three players off the bench for the Aggies.
"It had no effect," said assistant coach Don Verlin. "Give credit to New Mexico State. We got beat by 30."
Are there enough basketballs and minutes to go around at New Mexico State?
The Aggies looked very disjointed in their loss to Nevada, though they bounced back with a vengeance against an undermanned Utah State squad, which was missing most of its bench.
"There are never enough minutes," NMSU coach Marvin Menzies said. "There are guys pretty capable that don't get into the game at all. There are guys that play 30 minutes, but want to play 35 because of their competitiveness.
"You can't worry about that. I feel like we've settled on a rotation, and we're going to settle in with it."
One of the changes in the Aggies' rotation came when Menzies put Herb Pope in the starting line-up. In his second game against the Aggies, Pope started against Nevada. Pope had a rough start, getting two shots rejected by JaVale McGee. Pope bounced back nicely in the second half and finished with 12 points and eight rebounds.
HILL SOLID IN HIS ROLE
Senior Jamon Hill has been San Jose State's starting point guard since Justin Graham suffered a season-ending fractured elbow against Hawaii, and the results have been favorable.
"I think he's been solid," SJSU coach George Nessman said. "He didn't shoot it as well as I would have liked (against Idaho)."
Hill scored 14 points against Fresno State, connecting on several mid-range jump shots.
WAC AWARD WINNERS
Idaho's Mike Hall and Hawaii's Tanya Smith were named the men's and women's players of the week by the conference.
Hall drained nine 3-pointers and scored 29 points in a 74-63 victory over visiting San Jose State.
Smith pulled down a WAC-record 25 rebounds against Idaho, breaking the record of 23 formerly held by Cheryl Ford of Louisiana Tech, who set the record in the 2003 WAC Tournament. Smith also scored 14 points against Idaho. She went on to score 25 points and pull down 17 rebounds against Boise State in a losing effort.
$1 BASKETBALL DUCATS
Fans can watch the Wolf Pack women's basketball team take on Utah State February 2nd at 7:00 p.m. for $1.
Fans have an opportunity to win two round-trip tickets wherever Southwest Airlines goes. One hundred Wolf Pack fans will have a chance to participate at halftime by demonstrating their paper airplane flying ability. For more information call 775-682-6963.
Nevada (14-5 overall) is second in the WAC with a 5-1 record and has won nine consecutive games at home this season.
• Contact Darrell Moody at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling (775) 881-1281