Word came out a couple of hours ago that the three officials involved in the Rutgers/St. John’s game yesterday have “voluntarily” withdrawn from the rest of the Big East Tournament. It was a move that absolutely had to be made. They should be held out of the NCAA Tournament this year as well because no one is going to take them seriously for a while after yesterday’s disgrace.
I understand mistakes happen but the events of yesterday crossed the line. Doris Burke, who was calling the game on the ESPN broadcast said it right away that the referees stopped doing their jobs in the final minute and he is absolutely right. What was up with the official running off the court before the game was over? Don’t these guys hang around to shake hands with coaches and players? The visual of it was strange and gives room for people with conspiracy theories to swoop in.
Yahoo has a really good article on this. “The way that final sequence played out was flat-out unprofessional,” Yahoo’s Ryan Greene writes, “not just with the absence of a call, but by Burr and his cohorts blowing Rice and his players off completely.”
I can’t believe Jim Burr is in the stands today. Send him home. ESPN’s Dana O’Neil has an interesting read on Tim Higgins.
Carl Bialik of the Wall Street Journal didn’t go easy on the officials either.
It was all reminiscent of Chris Webber’s timeout call with 11 seconds left in the 1993 championship game. His team, Michigan, famously didn’t have any left, which led to a technical foul and clinched the win for North Carolina. But the call never would have happened if a ref within a few feet of Webber had called him six seconds earlier for a clear travel. That violation would, in retrospect, have hurt Michigan less than the timeout did, because it would have cost Michigan the ball, but with more time left and without giving North Carolina foul shots. But Moskowitz and Wertheim argue that refs are biased toward not making judgment calls late in games, for fear of determining the game’s outcome. On the timeout the refs had no choice: “Unlike a traveling violation, when a player motions for a time-out and his team has exhausted its ration, well, that’s not a judgment call. That’s a call an official has to make even in the waning seconds of an exhilarating championship game.” Substitute “when a player steps out of bounds by a wide margin” and “an exhilarating conference tournament game” into that sentence, and you have a good description of the end of Rutgers-St. John’s, only this time officials didn’t make the call.
Here is what the back pages looked like in New York today.
By the way what did you see the recap on the Big East website? They don’t even acknowledge the end of the game.
One more major gripe. People need to stop saying that “good thing this didn’t happen in the NCAA Tournament” or “good thing it didn’t cost someone a spot in the NCAA Tournament.” But as Dan Levy correctly pointed out in his podcast today, it potentially did. No one is saying that Rutgers would have gone on to run the table but the winner of this tournament does get an automatic berth.
“I have not heard any response from the Big East or the officials, for three of them to — again, it was a mistake,” Rice said after getting a chance to cool off. “It’s got to be a mistake. I watched it on YouTube. I’ve had them all throughout the year, impeccable reputation, it’s unfortunate, my heart — believe me, there is going to be blood coming through my tongue right now but it’s what it is, we’re going to control how we respond.
“I was a lunatic, to be honest with you, and I lost some self-control, I admit it, and I thought he got — again, it was a judgment call. Had I known it was [1.7], I might have literally held on, done a Van Gundy and held one of their legs on the court.”
“It has to be a mistake. It’s got to be. I just saw it on YouTube. … It’s unfortunate. Believe me, there’s going to be blood coming through my tongue right now, but it is what it is. We’re going to control how we respond.”
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