Thursday, January 29, 2009


We pointed out recently that certain ACC officials seemed to be suddenly ignoring fouls on Tyler Hansbrough. We may have mentioned that Karl Hess and his crew were among those certain officials who worked UNC’s recent victories against Miami and Clemson. Last night, Hess, Mike Eades and Brian Dorsey added a new twist.

Prior to last night’s game in Tallahassee, Hansbrough had played in 123 NCAA basketball games. In those games he had attempted 1,527 free throws for an average of 12.4 per game. In fact, he attempted a free throw in every college game until last night. Now credit FSU’s defense which is both big and excellent, but are we supposed to believe that, suddenly, after 123 games either Hansbrough or his defenders suddenly approached the game differently? We think not.

The likelihood that Hansbrough would reach the foul line was also impacted by his lack of playing time (only 26 minutes). His playing time was limited due to three first-half fouls. During those same 123 games, the Poplar Bluff Flash has committed a grand total of 304 personal fouls – that’s 2.4 per game. In fact, in 123 games Hansbrough has fouled out exactly once (March 9, 2007 v. FSU). Evidently, after 3.5 seasons of college hoop, Hansbrough suddenly got more aggressive and/or sloppy as well.

We missed the first foul, so we’ll take pass on that one. The second one was questionable and the third was looked to be another close call. But, the game winner was the fourth foul that had game announcer Tim Brando (who plainly stated he’s “not a fan”) calling it a “phantom foul” after the replay. It wasn’t even a close call in tight quarters where mistakes are easier to make.

So, is it a conspiracy against Hansbrough?


What appears to be happening is ACC officials are letting the bigs beat and bang and ignoring the hard fouls while they quickly whistle touch fouls (not to mention some non-fouls). We’ve never understood this style of officiating. No doubt some folks from Duke or Wake can point to some smashmouth plays in the paint that failed to draw a whistle in their game last night.

Case in point: UNC’s long-armed freshman Ed Davis went to the basket hard for a dunk, and his shot was “blocked” cleanly according to Hess, Eades and Dorsey. This begs the question: “Can anybody block a 6’11” kids dunk without touching his hand or arm and what is the likelihood of stopping such a force without your body making contact with the other gigantic body coming your way at full speed?”

We say, virtually no one can. Yes, It can be done, but it is one of the most acrobatic plays in basketball (see NBA), and most 6’10” bigs simply aren’t that athletic or graceful. To suggest this amazing display of athletic skill happens three or four times a night is simply ridiculous – even in this day and age of amazing athletes.

On the other end of the court, Danny Green steals the ball drives the basket and scores a layup. The key basket late in the game ultimately allowed UNC to tie the score on Green’s free throw. The critical play was made possible by a “touch foul” – the Noles’ Derwin Kitchen “fouled” Green on his way to the basket. But, actually, he didn’t. Several replays show Kitchen taking a swipe at Green – and by “swipe” we mean “swing and a miss” – that resulted in no discernible contact. Whistle. Foul. Tie game with 1:12 left to play.

That inconsistency is what drives both UNC fans and anti-UNC fans crazy.

(Photos by ViewImages, AP Photo/Phil Coale, Phil Sears and Glenn Beil/Tallahassee Democrat)


  1. You need to look at the drive by Green again. Watch his arm change motion as he moves to shoot. There was clearly contact.

    The call on Hansbrough's 4th foul was clearly wrong. The ref called what he imagined he saw.

  2. You may be right, I only saw it twice, real time and replay and I thought it was a clear miss, but maybe it wasn't. However, it was one of many examples of "touch" fouls that are called, while "tackle" fouls are ignored!


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