Last night I watched the tail end of two games, nearly simultaneously thanks to my agility on the remote. On the men’s side I saw the Villanova/Georgetown game and on the women’s side I saw Rutgers and Tennessee. The games were on ESPN and ESPN2 respectively and both came down to the wire and were ruined by blown calls and or incorrect time keeping. Now I normally watch women play sports as often as I watch men play golf, but I knew there was history between Rutgers and Tennessee and that any game coming down to a last-second shot makes for good viewing. The end of both games are a good example of the tough calls that officials have to make at times, and in one case the inexplicable errors that still arise when it comes to keeping the time in professional sports.

This shit happens too much. Even the holiest of all sporting events, the Superbowl, saw end-of-the-game clock missteps this year. The Giants’ final drive against the Patriots featured some spotty starts and stops with the game clock that were “corrected” by the officiating crew. I don’t know how they knew exactly how much time to put back or take off, but I digress. The ladies’ game in question came down to a last second put-back attempt by Tennessee’s Nicky Anosike with the Lady Vols down one. Anosike was grabbed from behind by a Rutgers player as time expired. According to the clock however, the time didn’t expire. It froze at 0.2 seconds left, just before the foul occurred. In reality the game should have been over, but the clock said otherwise. Unlike the NFL, college hoops refs have the luxury (and I believe are under orders) to use video to check on last-second plays. So, they checked the replay on video and said that there were indeed 0.2 seconds left.

Anosike shoots two in from the stripe and the game is over.

The call was legit. Anosike was pulled from behind and I don’t care how much time is left, that call had to be made. It’s just a shame such a close game was decided by what turns out to be a terrible mistake in the time keeping. If you’re going to use the video to double-check this sort of thing, then tell me how the refs get this call wrong. You can see the clock freeze, you know the game should be over, but Rutgers still loses. The Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer was rightly put-out by the whole controversy and I commend her for not blowing her stack and screaming the paint off the walls in the arena. Her squad got hosed, plain and simple.

Now, on to the men (you know, the ones who can dunk and actually make an entire game entertaining). The Villanova/Georgetown contest came down to a final shot to win the game as well, with Villanova guard Scottie Reynolds driving the lane to try and break a tie and give his team the win. Doc Rivers’ kid, Jeremiah, played some lights-out D for the Hoyas and forced Reynolds into a bad pass that ended up in a turnover. The Hoyas’ Jonathan Wallace grabbed the ball and started dribbling up the sideline. I’m thinking the kid is going to just run the clock out, he’s almost the entire length of the court away from a reasonable shot, with ‘Nova defenders giving chase. The teams are tied and he’s running his way into overtime. Well, that’s what should have happened. Like the ladies’ game, this game featured a last-second foul call, one of the worst I can remember seeing watching any level of basketball, from prep to the NBA. Villanova’s Corey Stokes gave Wallace a bump with his hips that wouldn’t have knocked a wine glass off a crooked shelf and was whistled for a foul with 0.1 seconds left.

Wallace shoots two in from the stripe and the game is over.

This play had me thinking the ref had a couple hundo on Georgetown or something. Touch fouls like that are rarely called in the middle of a game, but with 0.1 on the clock, game on the line, that far away from the basket? Absolute bullshit. Once again, a classy coach, the Wildcats’ Jay Wright, didn’t throw the fit I would have, and should be commended much like coach Stringer at Rutgers. Even John Thompson III, the Georgetown coach, looked like he just got a kick in the balls when all was said and done. You could tell even he didn’t want to see the game end like that, though he must have been happy with the victory. Winning games is what sports is all about in the end, but I can’t imagine being satisfied with that type of a W.

I’ve heard the “refs have a tough job” argument a million times, and to some extent I agree with that statement. They are however paid very well to do a job, and if they make bonehead moves like the ones at the end of each of these games, deserve either punishment or at least a tongue-lashing by the media. We’ll see what the four talking heads on Around the Horn and my favorite ebony and ivory team on Pardon the Interruption think about all of this, but from my view this sort of ineptitude is truly depressing when it happens in the college ranks. It’s not like the players on these teams can take some comfort in the fact that they have a fat paycheck for their efforts last night. College kids play for their teammates, the coach and the fans--which include the student body of their university. I can’t believe they have to swallow the pill of poor officiating when both Rutgers and Villanova had a game stolen from them that they could have or should have won.

1 comment:

  1. I saw that Tennessee game, and that was fucked up at the end. After the foul shots when Rutgers inbounded the ball, the clock still didn't work-and a TN player fouled the shit outta the recieving Rutgers girl. Was pretty lame.

    But the thing I wanted to tell you is the insanity of women's bball in general around where I live now. When you mention college basketball in East TN, it's like the men's team is nonexistent. I made a joke about women's bball in a conversation in Chattanooga once, and you could hear a pin drop. The men's squad, though it pains me to say it, is sick (or Lofton is anyway), and I don't think anybody knows that around here. It's crazy that regionally, basketball is understood only from a female perspective.

    It's completely understandable, as Pat Summit has done incredible things with the Vols, but simultaneously it is so odd, because you're right, it is some unexciting shit to behold.