Tuesday, February 12, 2008

These Games Aren't About You

Or at least they aren't supposed to be. I would love to bitch and moan about the poor officiating in the KU/Texas game last night (and I will), but compared to the fans of Villanova and Rutgers(W), I've got nothing.

I'm no fan of Vivian Stringer, but she is spot on - from the AP report, "The clock froze," a glassy-eyed Stringer repeated over and over again. "I'll remember that one." Indeed, television replays showed that the clock appeared to freeze briefly before Rutgers' Kia Vaughn was whistled for fouling Tennessee's Nicky Anosike with 0.2 seconds left in the game. The officials huddled, reviewed the play on the monitor and then ruled that the foul occurred before time had expired.

Mistakes happen and you have to play through them and live with them. But when you have a chance to correct a mistake that was painfully obvious to begin with and still don't, something is amiss.

There was a similarly catastrophic call in the Georgetown/Villanova game. (Note: At the time I was ecstatic because the game had already run 15 minutes over. Get a clue ESPN, this happens every fucking night!) Again, from the AP report, The score was tied. There was less than one second to play, and Georgetown's Jonathan Wallace was dribbling 70 feet from the basket when he heard the whistle. He wondered what was up. After all, there's no way a referee would call a foul in that situation, right? Guess again. "At first I thought I stepped out of bounds," Wallace said, "because I was trying to make a play with the time running down. But I did kind of [feel a] nudge when I was trying to turn the corner. So," Wallace shrugged, "a call's a call." And he's not about to raise a fuss over it. That "nudge" was a bump from Villanova's Corey Stokes, the 48th foul called in a frustrating, stop-and-start game. The one semi-defensible part of this is that as mentioned, the game was horribly foul plagued with 47 having already been called, so at least this was consistent. But to make that call (which I wouldn't deem a foul in the first minute of a game), in that spot is absolute incompetence at it's finest.

I feel silly even bothering to lump in the complaints from my game of interest last night, but while I'm at it, why not? Even if you're a Texas fan, you enjoyed watching the first half more than the second. There's just no way you couldn't have - it was fun, entertaining, well-played basketball. And not surprisingly, the whistles were not pervasive. Kansas had 9 called on them, while Texas had 7 (only 2 in the final 11:28, but it is what it is).

The second half was quite a different story. Right from the get-go, they called a moving screen on each team in the opening seconds to, as Fran put it, "set the tone." Are you kidding me? I was under the impression that players were supposed to do this? If the game had been getting chippy and/or out of hand, this makes sense. But to do it in a game where both teams played hard and there seemed to be no feelings other than mutual respect on the floor. Highly unnecessary.

Even more questionable was how it began to skew in one direction. I won't blame the refs for the loss as Kansas had their chances, but it's undeniable what a difference it makes when 10 fouls have been called on 1 team in the same amount of time that 4 have been called on the other. Aside from the obvious advantage of shooting free throws the rest of the game, it also hinders a team's ability to attack both offensively and defensively. Could that have played a part in Kansas' aggresiveness going after rebounds? What about their ability to pressure the ball? One would think.

- At the 14:42 mark, Kansas had 5 to Texas' 2
- At the 10:06 mark, Kansas had 7 (bonus) to Texas' 4
- At the 7:28 mark, Kansas had 10 (double bonus) to Texas' 4
- At the 2:12 mark, Kansas had 12 to Texas' 6 (This was the last real foul of the game as the other 3 were by Kansas in the final 41 seconds, but the final tally was 15-6 and 24-13 for the game. Also of note, in the final 31 minutes, the count was Kansas 17(or 20) to Texas' 8.)

You're telling me that even though Texas was smaller at every position and out-rebounded Kansas 23-12 in the second half that Kansas fouled twice as much as the Longhorns? Needless to say, I disagree. We've said it before and we'll say it again; officiating is good when it goes unnoticed and in the three biggest games of the night, it was boldy on display. Can anyone tell me why officials don't have to answer to the media as players and coaches do?

They'll be more on this game later, but I wanted to get this out there. And in all honesty, I really don't know what I'd write anyway because I'm still not even sure how I feel. And since I'm in a bad mood and these videos cheer me up, here is yet another Berman video.

No comments: