Amid The Madness, Refs Need To Be Consistent
This edition of March Madness has been lots of things — wild, fun, unpredictable.
One thing it hasn’t been, though. It hasn’t been consistent, at least as far as the officiating is concerned.
College basketball has to decide. Either you make all the calls, or you don’t. Either you ignore how much time is left, or you take it into consideration. You can’t have it both ways.
Yet that is exactly what happened in two of the key games over the weekend. In the Pittsburgh-Butler game, the one whose subtitle should be “Dumb and Dumber,” the refs made two calls you ordinarily would never see with 1.4 seconds left.
They called the first foul on Butler’s Shelvin Mack for inexplicably defending a midcourt shot that never had a chance. Then with 0.8 seconds left, they called another on Pitt’s Nasir Robinson, who, for some bizarre reason, bumped Gilbert Brown when he had even less of a chance to score from the complete other end of the floor.
Both fouls were incredibly dumb but appeared legitimate. Contact definitely was made. In most games, under most circumstances, officials swallow their whistles in cases like that. This time, with everything at stake, they didn’t.
OK, you can live with that if the whole tournament is to be officiated that way. But some 24 hours later, after a somewhat questionable five-second call gave Arizona the ball and the lead, Texas’ J’Covan Brown — the best player on the floor, by the way — drove into the paint in the final seconds and absorbed enough contact to knock down three players. And nothing was called. Nothing. Zip. Nada.
Game over. Texas loses one game by a point, and Butler wins the other by one.
Two different situations, two different interpretations.
This is Madness, all right. But the wrong kind. Now that the field has been trimmed to 16, how should coaches expect the rest of the games to be called?
The answer is, they have to guess like the rest of us. And that’s a shame.
I understand human beings are involved here, and anyone can make an honest mistake. But it seems to me that some sort of order should come down from high up in the NCAA somewhere to eliminate the chaos.
At the end of tense, dramatic, high stakes games, especially in the final few seconds, either everything is called, or nothing is called.
This needs to be clarified, for the sake of the coaches, players and fans. And most of all, for the sake of the tournament’s integrity.
Come on, gentlemen. Think about it. This isn’t asking so much.
The games have been great so far, but something needs to be done. The kids from Texas and Pittsburgh deserved a better shake.
Some quick shots from basketball to baseball and beyond:
UCLA had nothing to be embarrassed about in its loss to Florida. I thought the Bruins played a terrific game. Now if only they could find a bigtime point guard, there’s no telling how far they could go . . .
I’d love to see San Diego State make it to the Final Four, but the Aztecs can’t make it the way they played against Temple . . .
The more BYU wins, the more we get to see Jimmer. You have to love that . . .
This is turning into a sour spring for the Angels. Kendrys Morales will start the season on the DL, key reliever Scott Downs probably will miss the first month and now No. 4 starter Joel Piniero is hurt. Right now, Mike Scioscia’s club has to be picked third in the A.L. West . . .
There is no more exciting announcer in any sport than Gus Johnson. He’s a human adrenaline rush . . .
The Lakers’ Andrew Bynum deserved the two-game suspension. That was one cheap shot. I didn’t know ‘Drew had it in him . . .
USC begins spring football practice this week, and the big question for Lane Kiffin in Year Two is obvious: Can anything be done to improve that awful defense? . . .
Baseball America is predicting the Dodgers and Angels both to win a grand total of 79 games this season. Really makes you want to rush out and buy tickets, doesn’t it? . . .
— STEVE BISHEFF