Friday, February 10, 2012

Gimme Three (or Four) Steps Mister...

...And you’ll never see me no more!
Tar Heel Nation is unhappy with this non-call of a travel on Set Curry before he buried a three point bomb during Duke’s furious late rally.  Blue Devil fans counter with “Well, yeah, what about this uncalled foul and that uncalled foul? The Tar Heels were (fill in the blank) the whole damn game!”


(Robert Willett/Raleigh News & Observer)
Or something like that...and, that exchange happens somewhere between somebody after every game.

Hey, it’s basketball, calls get missed. Especially inside where big bodies are banging around.  But, this call was a little different.

Let’s preface this with ACC refs don’t blow calls on purpose. Any suggestion to their face that they do so would likely end in fisticuffs.  And well they should.

That said, even the best refs blow calls.  That’s why coaches work the officials so hard. They aren’t trying to consciously win an argument or influence a call, they are conducting subconscious warfare hoping at some point they will get the benefit of the doubt on a split second decision.  

What is so different about this particular error is not that it occurred at a critical time, but that it occurred not under a crowded basket with big bodies banging around, but in the open court in full view of everybody in the building and on TV.  

Also worthy of note is that it occurred directly in front of the Duke bench and the infraction was so obvious that the ESPN broadcast crew pointed it out immediately after only seeing the play in real time.  On the broadcast, you can hear the boos and see the Tar Heel faithful signaling traveling to no avail, while Jay Bilas and Dickie V note the uncalled infraction.

(Robert Willett/Raleigh News & Observer)
Finally, it was also very noticeable because this wasn’t a judgement call...it wasn’t a matter of was it a charge or a block, or did the defender touch the shooters arm or just the ball. or was the ball coming down so it was goal tending or a legit block?  No,  traveling is a simple non-judgement call that only requires that the official count the number of steps taken by the player.

Typically, most traveling calls in a game are called on big men, mostly forwards and centers who shuffle their feet prior to making a move requiring a dribble.  A traveling call on a guard is very rare, and perhaps that is part of this equation as well.

We suppose it’s possible that none of the refs could believe a seasoned vet like Curry took four steps.  Yes, four.  Watch closely:  He takes a step as he catches the ball, then he skips that foot forward, then he takes two more steps - that’s four.  One could argue the first step didn’t count since he was making the catch, so that trims it down to just three steps.  

(Robert Willett/Raleigh News & Observer)
Interestingly, several possessions later ESPN showed the replay above...it speaks for itself.

Did it change the outcome of the ballgame?  Probably not.  Did Coach K’s non-stop wrangling of the refs make a difference when a critical play unfolded directly in front of him?  Who knows?  Did Roy Williams' indignation earn him a makeup call on the next possession?  Maybe...?

In the end, all unanswerable questions.  It’s all part of the game, and the play will remain a footnote to a classic rivalry game for years to come.  

When’s the rematch?

1 comment:

  1. The difference is that the travelling no-call resulted in 3-points for Duke. The make up call was meaningless other than to prove that they screwed up the last one. They should all 3 be suspended.

    How about the no-call on Plumlee fouling Zeller on the "tip-in?"

    And the Kelly air-ball that Henson allegedly touched? Nope - blew that one too.

    All 3 calls resulted DIRECTLY in Duke points. 8 points to be exact. Total BS.

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