SCALDING HOT TAKE coming from the desk of the Founder in Chief. Hopefully you sensed the sarcasm as this has been a trending take this weekend following the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. These games offered plenty to bitch and moan about and while that is part of what I plan on doing, I want to take a bigger picture look at officiating as a whole.
Shocker, my Alma Mater was involved in a controversial play and massive blown lead, below is the sequence of plays that the officials got wrong.
Is this the travel that everyone was referring to?? Because, well, I can see why people are mad. pic.twitter.com/UdhqdgQ6hR
— Big East Coast Bias (@becb_sbn) March 17, 2017
This was called a flagrant. pic.twitter.com/IcqB89sFfP
— CBS Sports CBB (@CBSSportsCBB) March 17, 2017
Let’s begin with the initial travel that was missed. That play immediately followed a travel by Khadeen Carrington. I think anyone with eyes can see the shuffle into a jab step, which is the definition of travel. Of course, it was not called, and play resume to the second play where Rodriguez went for the foul. It wasn’t the best move to go with the two-handed foul, however, the whole thing looks a lot worse because of the incidental contact causing the trip. Sure, by the letter of the law a non-play on the ball is a flagrant foul, but then so is EVERY SINGLE LATE GAME FOUL. What about Duke last night? Amile Jefferson grabbed the offensive player’s jersey from behind with absolutely no attempt at the ball, why not call it then? While other factors including an implosion by Seton Hall late in the game led to this situation, this call was the dagger in the Pirates’ coffin.
Just like they drew it up pic.twitter.com/hXHaoIjcNj
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) March 20, 2017
The whistle giveth and the whistle taketh away here as the Hogs are on the wrong side of the call this time. Not only was that an out of control charge but the officials also could have whistled for a travel. This did really end up deciding the game because being down 3 and being down 1 with under a minute to play is a much different offensive possession. Arkansas would go on to lose this game. And believe it or not, this wasn’t even the worst call of the weekend.
Northwestern's coach got a tech for this, but he has a point 🤔 pic.twitter.com/9xFS9n5ves
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 18, 2017
Gonzaga led this game pretty much the entire way and Northwestern looked dead in the water. A monumental comeback in the 2nd half got the Wildcats back within 5 points when a Pardon dunk was blocked by Zach Collins, THROUGH THE RIM. Chris Collins absolutely lost it (as any coach should and would) and ran on the floor picking up an instant technical foul. There are a few ways to look at this. First, this was a clear blown call and it really hurt the Cats comeback chance and the officials have to be better and notice something as egregious and a hand going through the rim to block a shot. However, the second piece is that Chris Collins has to have some awareness of the situation. Did the officials blow the call? 100%. But they were not going to change it and you have to recognize that. Collins would get T’d up and Gonzaga would hit their free throws and score on the next possession, killing the big Northwestern run and comeback chance. The loss wasn’t totally on Collins, by the way, Bryant McIntosh had a miserable final four minutes and it doesn’t help to have your leader struggle as much as he did. The call was horrendous and the NCAA issued a statement post-game saying the officials got the call wrong. I cannot stand when “statements are made” post-game about calls. You can acknowledge that is it wrong but you don’t have anything in place to get it right next time? Give me a break.
I can’t get the video to properly format into the post so you can see it here. But in the St. Mary’s-Arizona game there was another clear as day foul that was called incorrectly. Lauri Markkanen shoves Jordan Hunter in the back forcing him into another Arizona player, where Hunter would be whistled for a loose-ball foul. What World are we in that people jump to grab rebounds sideways? Markkanen clearly has his hand extended and it just so happens the closest guy to him is now on the ground 4 feet away. That’s a textbook push off and rather elementary and the officials got it wrong. It wasn’t as make or break as the previous instances but yet another exemplary mark for our NCAA officiating crews this past weekend.
There will always be bad calls. It is just part of the game, but there need to be steps taken to ensure that egregiously bad calls can either be fixed or punished. Currently, there is a massive lack of responsibility and accountability for these officials. Hopefully, they can clean up their act and have a good final few rounds so that I don’t have to write about how the National Championship was decided by the whistle instead of the (student)athletes on the floor.