Monday, February 16, 2009

BLIND ZEBRAS INFEST ACC BASKETBALL ARENAS

A NOTE ON OFFICIATING: We’ve said this many times – we simply don’t understand the way games are called. Last night it appeared that two of the three officials forgot their whistles.

Of course, there is a “let ‘em play” approach to officiating, and clearly that was the theme for the Miami-UNC game.

We know there are some consistent patterns within games: a) touch fouls are called outside the paint while the bigs can beat and bang, and b) fouls are never called on the last shot of a game (see end of Clemson v. UVA regulation for another confirming example.)

We’re OK with both of those, but the mugging inside last night was something to behold. Yet, in spite of the rough and tumble play, the two teams shot a TOTAL of ten free throws. That's not a misprint, that's TEN.

At one point, a replay shows a Miami defender taking what has to be described as a “swipe" at Tyler Hansbrough. The Cane defender hits Hansbrough on his left shoulder, elbow, forearm, left hand, right forearm and right hand as he takes a shot. No call. Hansbrough misses. UNC's Deon Thompson gets the rebound and is “brushed” ever so slightly by a Hurricane. Whistle. Foul. Huh?

Look, we know it’s a tough job -- take a look at the photo at right from the Duke/Boston College game. We've seen less contact in a rugby scrum! Every player in the shot looks to be fouling somebody.

Obviously, it's difficult to establish who had position and who is the worst offender, but is the solution to simply look the other way or to whistle a hand check on the guard who's headed up court with the ball after this group wrestling match subsides?

We’re not suggesting Hansbrough was fouled every time he took a shot (and he only took 8 shots the whole game) and, yes, he tends to wind up on the floor on a lot of plays foul or nay, but it seems impossible that UNC would take more than two dozen shots in the paint and only be fouled twice.

The same was true on the other end of the court – Miami went to the free throw line exactly ONCE. Again, that's not a misprint, that's ONCE.

Now mind you the Canes were livin’ and dyin’ by the jump shot, but it still seems impossible that such a fast-paced, and, at time, down right ugly game, would be played so “perfectly” and almost foul-free in the paint. The first half of this game was a playground, run and shoot slug fest and only eight fouls were called (four in the paint).

It didn’t appear that the officiating had any impact on the final outcome of the game. Neither team complained, and it certainly appeared to be even, but clearly ACC officials have stopped blowing the whistle when big guy clobbers big guy unless they just barely touch and that’s a foul…

Jeez, a little consistency for cryin' out loud.

If the ACC graded their refs as the NFL does, we can’t imagine what the reports would look like…

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, Elsa/Getty Images)

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