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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

One Shining Moment...I Don't Think So!

In case you were hiding under a rock this past weekend, one of the memorable games (and perhaps bizarre ending) in the  NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, and perhaps the history of the Tournament, was played between #8 seed Butler University and  #1 seed University of Pittsburgh.  And what made the game memorable…the last took 2.2 seconds. 

Here is a quick review:
3 seconds left: Butler takes a 70-69 lead on Andrew Smith’s layup with (this possession followed a shot-clock violation by the Panthers with about 10 seconds remaining.)

2.2 seconds left:  the Panthers inbounded the ball from under their basket and the Pittsburgh’s player on the receiving end is senior guard, Gilbert Brown, who lets it take one big bounce to keep the clock from starting before grabbing the ball on the run and attempting to win the game with a Hail Mary about 40 feet from the Butler basket.  Butler junior guard, Shelvin Mack, seeing a loose ball bouncing towards Brown and the sideline makes the decision to rush toward the ball with reckless abandon, and collides with Brown near midcourt. 

A foul is called on Mack, and Brown is awarded two shots, with Pitt down by 1 point.

With 1.4 seconds left: Brown, an 80% free throw shooter for the year, makes one free throw to tie the score and misses the second.  Butler’s Matt Howard rebounds the ball about 90 feet from Pitt basket. Game tied, and we are headed to overtime.  Enter stage left… Pittsburgh forward, junior, Nasir Robinson, who is desperate for the ball (and destined to be remembered as the Pitt Panther who committed the biggest foul in Panther history!) with eight-tenths of a second left.

A foul is called on Robinson, and Howard is awarded two shots, with the game tied.
Howard makes the winning free throw. 

Butler University wins and goes on to the Sweet 16 for the second year in a row. Pittsburgh University loses and goes home left scratching their heads, and asking themselves, what was Nasir Robinson thinking! 

The saddest part about the way this game ended…well, one could say how could the referees, who have had a rough go recently starting with The Big East Tournament’s “Referee Walk Off” Game between St. Johns and Rutgers, call not one foul in the last 2.2 seconds of the game, but call another foul with the game tied and eight-tenths of a second left and the ball 90 feet away from the winning basket.  (I always thought the best referees are the one’s you don’t remember.)

Maybe it was the senseless plays by two veteran players, Mack and Robinson.  What was Mack thinking go after the ball on the sideline at midcourt - did he not see Brown running frantically after it and heading out of bounds? And what about Robinson?  With eight tenths of a second left, how important is it to fight your defender for ball when they are 90 feet away from the basket? 

Whether you blame the refs for not swallowing their whistles at the end of the game, (BTW, the referees who called the fouls were Terry Wymer and Antinio Petty) or Mack and Robinson for trying to “out dumb” the other…the fact of the matter is the game was well played between two high caliber teams for 58 minutes and 57.8 seconds.  The type of game that should be remembered for the Pitt Panthers shooting, 56% from the field and 55% from the beyond the arc, or Butler’s 12 3-pointers and only six turnovers.
What did I learn from it all… Well, I think John Adams, National Coordinator Men’s Collegiate Basketball stated it best when asked what advice he would give Pittsburgh players the next time they are in the same situation…Don’t Foul At The End Of Game!  

1 comment:

  1. Good post Steve! Especially the last paragraph - so true! Given the recent controversies, I think it is likely we'll see another referee / bad call blow-up at least once over the Sweet 16 and/or Final Four weekends.