As any radio listener in this area knows, Gene Reich sometimes isn't happy with referees.
But he thinks most officials are competent. He just has a couple of specific complaints about them: He doesn’t think that some three-man basketball crews work well together. Sometimes, two of the officials have a better look than the one who made the call, but they don't confer because they don't want to offend the official who made the call.
As a fan, Reich would also like to see basketball officials call fouls early in games so that physical play doesn't get out of hand.
“I hate seeing guys get bumped and hacked and pushed and shoved around and stuff,” he said. “Because I don't think that's the way the game ought to be played.”
He feels that games in NCAA Division II, to which Northern State University belongs, sometimes are even more physical than Division I games. This is the 25th year that Reich has described Northern football and basketball games on the radio. He broadcast 17 years the first time around, finishing in 1997. After an eight-year absence, he returned to the Northern microphone in 2005. This is his eighth year back with the Wolves.
As he does a Northern game, Reich sometimes expresses a feeling that the Wolves aren't getting many breaks.
Does Reich want Northern to win?
“Sure. That's an easy question. One of my primary reasons is it's a lot easier to interview coaches when they're winning,” he said.
Wins also make the bus rides home more enjoyable, he said. Reich travels with the Northern basketball and football teams.
A Northern loss still bothers Reich, but the frustration is not as great as it once was.
“It used to be I'd be like the coaches. I'd go home and I couldn't sleep,” he said. “I'm not nearly as bad as I used to be.”
He admits that it was hard to deal with a loss by the Northern men to Wayne State Feb. 8, when the Wolves lost an 18-point lead.
“I had a dream about that one,” he said.
In general, though, losses aren't as important as they used to be, he said.
“To me, it's just part of life, and I think the players are that way, too. I think that players can let losses go by a lot easier than they used to.”
Reich appreciates the skills of players on other teams more than he used to, he said. He also realizes that the other team makes mistakes and suffers bad breaks.
These days, the times Reich has trouble sleeping are when he knows he didn't have a good broadcast — “when I knew I made some mistakes or said something I shouldn't have said.”
He doesn't record his broadcasts much anymore. But he doesn't have to. He knows when he says something he shouldn't.
“I can say something and I know right away, ‘Ooh, ooh, that wasn't smart.’ I can tell,” he said.
This weekend, Reich will describe games from the Aberdeen Civic Arena, which was Northern's home before the Barnett Center. He doesn't have any great preference for the arena over the Barnett Center.