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Check us out @RefAnalytics on Twitter

March 8th, 2014 No comments

We are happy to announce that we have started providing some information about NBA referees again. Instead of just critiquing calls from games, we have broadened our coverage to include analytics on referees and will occasionally release some of this information during games on our Twitter page @RefAnalytics, so please follow us there for updates.

Also, you can check out what we’re all about these days at RefAnalytics.com and some recognition we received recently from the 2014 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.

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If the NBA was a legendary restaurant, many customers would want improvement

May 31st, 2011 4 comments

Since launching RefCalls.com several weeks ago — and analyzing in detail ref calls over the past couple of years — it’s no secret that we and many others are still astonished by the high number of wrong and missed calls that refs make in NBA games.

We still like to give refs some credit when they correctly make some tough calls. You’ll also hear lots of basketball analysts on TV say things like, “There is no harder sport to officiate than an NBA game.” As we head into the marquee event of the season – the NBA Finals — we’ll agree with most of that, but we still believe there is lots of room for improvement.

If you just look at the video below that we put together a few days ago of many of the missed travels during games 3 & 4 of the Miami-Chicago series, you’ll get an understanding of just SOME of the missed calls and bad calls we have featured in a few dozen videos over the past few weeks.

When you think about it, the Navy SEALS (or Army Rangers, Green Berets, and other U.S. Special Ops Forces) have a tough job, too. To become one, you have to overcome some of the toughest mental and physical tests known to man. Their training program and selection process is legendary.

From what we’ve heard, the top annual pay of a SEAL is in the $50k range. On the other hand, we know some of the most senior NBA refs earn over $200k per year. So anyone who says the refs have a tough job is still correct, but when you put it in context, a lot more improvement can be expected based off how much they earn per year in comparison to people with much tougher jobs who make a lot less. For that matter, we all can improve in what we do for a living based on the excellence of the Navy SEALs.

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Interview with ESPN Dallas Radio on Monday

May 25th, 2011 No comments

On Monday RefCalls.com was invited to be a guest on the “Ben and Skin” radio show in Dallas on FM 103.3, the ESPN radio affiliate in the Dallas area.

This interview took place the morning of Dallas-OKC Game #4 (the game where Dallas overcame a 15-point deficit in the last 5 minutes to win the game). Check it out below…

Ben and Skin show interview – 05-23-11 by refcalls

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Misconceptions about traveling & blocking rules need to be resolved by the league

April 30th, 2011 14 comments

Since launching RefCalls.com a couple of weeks ago, we have been encouraged by all the positive comments from readers who have been looking for a site like this one. That’s what we thought would happen before we launched, and it’s always good to have assumptions validated. There have been a few who have stated, “What’s the point?” But there are basketball diehards like us who really think that although it may be somewhat painful or grueling to discuss, it’s in the best interests of basketball.

We want to reiterate that we are not picking on the refs. We know how difficult a job it must be. But almost every industry has some kind of evaluation method for its professionals. For example, every part of an NBA player’s skill-set, physical abilities, ability to learn, etc., are evaluated and quantitatively measured. Doctors, lawyers, politicians, professors, you name it — all of them are evaluated, and thanks to the Internet, most of these evaluations are publicly available. So how come the refs aren’t, and are given a free pass by some people when they don’t have a problem with other professionals’ reputations available for online review?

We are very upfront that we will give refs credit when they make a tough call, or that they need the help of fellow refs, or replay, to make the right call. Some people have even thought we are giving refs too much credit.

Be that as it may, one thing that has surprised us reading comments on this site — as well as other sites that discuss some of the questionable calls/no-calls that we try to bring to everyone’s attention — is the amount of misinformation out there about the rules of the basketball.
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Tweet us bad & missed calls you see with #refcalls

April 20th, 2011 No comments

In addition to the RefCalls forum where you can post information about bad calls and no-calls you see in games, we’re going to also try Twitter as a way for you to provide the same kind of info. Just use #refcalls, and it will get to us. You’ll also see it appear in the Twitter widget in the sidebar of our site to the right.

Here’s a sample format you can use that provides us the info we need, starting with the game, the quarter, the time on the clock, the players involved, and what happened.

POR-DAL 1Q 7:48 – Dirk fouled by Aldridge but no call. #refcalls

That only took 64 characters. Feel free to use your remaining characters to provide more info, or just vent!

Remember as we mention in our “Report a call” video at RefCalls.com/report that we won’t be able to feature all of these bad calls on the home page because there are so many questionable calls and no-calls in a game to post.

But we will take your info, research it, and log it into a database so that we can eventually run some reports on the data we collect that will give us a better glimpse at which refs are good or bad.

And don’t forget you can also Tweet flops you see players do on the court by using the hashtag #topflops that we could feature on our sister site TopFlops.com.

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Welcome to RefCalls.com!

April 15th, 2011 No comments

As sports fans tired of bad calls and missed calls with not much being done about it, we decided “enough is enough,” and that we’re going to dedicate ourselves to exposing bad calls, as well as point out when refs do a good job.

Check out the video below on what we’re all about, or read the transcript below.

Here’s a summary of the video above if you’d rather read than watch:

If you’re a basketball watcher, you can probably remember many times when the refs made bad calls. We can all agree, it’s frustrating. The kicker is when the refs can change the outcome of the game with one blow of the whistle.

Lets face it…we’ve all done it…yelling, screaming, even texting our friends, “How could they (the refs) miss that? How could they have not seen that?” Well, it’s just a waste of time that doesn’t do any good…but there’s really never been one place where fans could go to hold the refs accountable.  At least until now.

RefCalls.com is a place where you can report bad calls and missed calls you see in NBA and college games. We’ll review those calls and publish the most impactful — or downright HORRENDOUS — calls and missed calls from every basketball game each night, and we’ll explain why we believe the call or no-call was wrong.  And of course, you are welcome to comment to let everyone know how you feel about the call or the call that was missed.

We’ve been analyzing ref calls for a pretty long time, and we understand the nuances of the rulebook. We even have on board a former basketball ref who can provide a ref’s perspective for those really tough calls where getting their opinion might help us.  And if you disagree with our assessment of a call that we publish on RefCalls.com, you can always provide your opinion in the comments section.

But RefCalls.com isn’t a place where we’ll just throw refs under the bus all the time.  Believe us, we know how hard it is for refs to officiate basketball games, and when a ref makes the correct call or no-call in a crucial situation, we’re going to give that ref credit, too.  By giving credit where credit is due — while also holding them accountable for bad calls — we think basketball fans will become more aware of what makes a call correct or not.

Now keep in mind that there could be some games where there aren’t really any meaningful bad calls to publish, like in the case of an early blowout where a bad call isn’t going to affect the outcome of the game.  However, we’ll still log them into a database so we can eventually provide some information about individual refs, like how they rank against each other.

There’s another thing we want to capture that just doesn’t tell you how the refs are performing in games.  We know there’s a lot of players out there who like to flop, but there’s really no place where the top flops are archived, so we’re going to catalog those, too, and may feature it on our sister site TopFlops.com.  Who knows, maybe by us bringing more attention to the floppers, it will help rid the game of ALL flopping.

We have created another video on how you can get involved to help us improve the game of basketball, which we encourage you to checkout at RefCalls.com/report.

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How many travels refs miss per game, and the reasons why

April 8th, 2011 11 comments

This video explains how many travels refs miss per game on average, and the reasons why. If you haven’t seen some of our other videos that reference it, you might be surprised.

If you’d rather read the transcript than watch the video, checkout the transcript below, although keep in mind there are good some video samples of actual missed travels at the 2:25 and 4:35 marks of the video.

Transcript of video:

We all know in basketball that missed travels are a problem, but it’s really hard to know just how MANY travels are getting missed by refs unless you break down a bunch of game video to get a good sense of the magnitude of the problem.

So we decided to find out for ourselves and break down a bunch of NBA game video to see just how many traveling calls were being missed, taking into account the language in the rulebook.

Well, after doing our analysis — depending on the specific players playing in the game — we counted arguably up to 40-50 travels per game that are not getting called, which is about half of the number of violations overall that are wrong or are missed!

Obviously, all of these travels – if they were called — would have a MAJOR impact on the outcome of most games. And it’s incredible that all of these missed travels are happening right in front of our eyes, and that includes the refs, the players, the coaches, the fans, and the media, but no one is really talking about it! Why is that? Do we just not care if a lot of players are getting away with exploiting our complacency on these missed travels?

I would bet die-hard basketball fans, deep down inside, do care that the rules be enforced and that the eventual champions are truly the champs…fair and square.

We’ve seen what happens when we blow off some of the underlying problems in other industries that turn out to be a house of cards when you look back on it…say, for example, the mortgage lending business. I know the collapse of the housing market is a much bigger deal than this, but when it comes to basketball, we STILL think it’s important to bring up the problem with missed travels so that people can decide for themselves if it’s something that should be addressed, and if not, why not?

With that, let’s go through some detailed examples of travels that are missed.

We’ll call the first category..

1) Pivot foot is raised before the ball is released.

According to the NBA rulebook, it states, “In starting a dribble after (1) receiving the ball while standing still, or (2) coming to a legal stop, the ball must be out of the player’s hand before the pivot foot is raised off the floor.” This is a big one that is missed A LOT, and here are a few examples to point out what we’re talking about…

[2:25 of video starts playing of missed travel examples]

As you saw, there were several examples in less than one quarter of play in one game where we saw this type of violation, yet it wasn’t called.

There’s a second category of travels that’s frequently missed that we’ll call…

2) Sneaking in an extra 1/2 step or full step while “completing a dribble”

According to the NBA rulebook, “A player who receives the ball while (1) he is progressing or upon completion of a dribble, may take two steps coming to a stop, passing or shooting the ball.” The operative phrase here is “completion of a dribble.”

The problem with that is that “completion of a dribble” is vague. Refs are very inconsistent in calling what “completion of a dribble” is, which allows many players to sneak in an extra step before the first two steps. And this all gives the ballhandler a huge advantage over the defense and their defender. Here are a few examples.

[4:35 of video starts playing with more missed travel examples where we address the fact the word “gather” (as in “gathering the ball”) is used in many NBA circles. But there’s only one problem — the word “gather” does not appear in the NBA rulebook, only the phrase “completion of a dribble,” which is very subjective!]

As you saw from some of these video clips, players who exploit the inconsistency in how the refs are calling “completion of a dribble” are able to gain a really big advantage against their defenders, and when you add it up, can have a major impact on the outcome of the game.

Let’s get into a couple of games that we’ve analyzed to show just how many travels are being missed. For the 10/30/10 game between Denver and Houston, we counted 47 missed travel calls, which we’re calling “non-obvious,” which are basically those travels that are tough to catch we’ve been talking about. You’ll see that the pivot foot was lifted before releasing the ball 38 times between both teams. Denver had 24 of these violations. Houston had 14. And Carmelo Anthony was the lead in that he had 14 of these violations that were not called.

The second game involved Houston and LA (10/26/10) where there were 40 of these missed traveling calls. 34 were “pivot foot being raised before the ball is released,” with LA having 16 violations, with Kobe Bryant leading his team, and Houston having 18 with Kevin Martin having 6.

And isn’t it interesting that the leading scorers on their teams are typically the ones who are violating these rules, but are not getting called. So is it a coincidence? We think not. We think there is a very high correlation between high-scoring players and those players who are able to get away with travels.

So what are the reasons WHY we think so many travel calls are being missed?

1) Sometimes it can happen so quickly, it’s hard to detect with the naked eye at real speed. But we think that over time that if refs — if they were trained properly and knew what to look for — it would become much more natural for them to pick up on it and police these infractions.

2) When they do see it, we think “omission bias” kicks in, which is basically the concept that it’s less risky for a ref not to call it and be wrong (because less people will know they are wrong) than if they were calling it, and everyone knew they were calling it, and they were wrong.

3) They just don’t want to slow down the game, or get booed by fans. But we think over time, just like any other rule the NBA starts enforcing, the players will adjust and get better at not violating the rule if the refs are calling it, and eventually the game won’t be slowed down. Maybe at first as players are getting accustomed to it being called, but over time we think it will clean up the game and the game will resume at its normal pace.

So until the NBA does something to cleanup the massive number of missed travels that are occurring in a game and not getting called, we only have enough time at RefCalls.com to report on the most egregious traveling calls that are wrong or missed that have an impact on the game’s outcome at the end of games. But of course, we’ll also be publishing other bad calls and missed no-calls not related to traveling that have a bearing on the outcome of close games. too.

Remember that you can be a part of all this by reporting some of the most major violations that are called incorrectly be refs, or missed, by reporting them in the RefCalls.com/forums. And don’t forget that you can report really bad flops by players in the same forum that could eventually be featured on our sister site TopFlops.com.

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The number of bad and missed calls per NBA game might shock you

April 8th, 2011 No comments

In this video we explain the number of bad calls and missed calls refs have on average in an NBA game, but we STILL want to try to hold refs accountable…with your help. If you’d rather read than watch the video, checkout the text below the vid.

We want to take a few moments to address the question that you might be asking, “Why can’t RefCalls.com just watch every game and log all of the bad calls and missed calls from each game.  There can’t be that many, right?”

Well, when we first started this project, that’s what we thought, too.  We were thinking that maybe there were going to be 5 to 10 wrong calls a game, so it wouldn’t take that much time.  But when we started logging games in detail, it turned out that there were anywhere — on average — from 80 to 100 bad calls or missed calls per game!  And if you’re going to do it right, that it takes about 10-12 hours to breakdown each game!

Given that there are 1,230 NBA games in the regular season, with up to 12 to 13 games played some nights, and there are a ton of NCAA Division 1 basketball games throughout season, it’s almost impossible to expect volunteers to do this kind of work since we all have lives to live, jobs to work, or studying to do (if you’re in school).  And paying people to do this work would be very expensive.

And we can tell you from first-hand experience that it’s pretty grueling work, it’s easy to miss bad calls and wrong no-calls, and there are still many subjective calls such that each person’s analysis should be reviewed as a sanity check.

For example, we found that most people have different threshold levels on how much contact is enough to warrant a foul.  So you basically have to check everyone’s analysis to make sure the judgments are consistent across the board, and this doubles the amount of time needed to review just one game.  This is all very time-consuming and expensive to resolve, and until there is enough capital to pay analysts to log all of these calls and no-calls and double-check them for accuracy, we’re going to rely on a sample of games and calls that’s much more manageable.

One of the primary factors that makes it so time-consuming to review all of the calls and no-calls from just one game is the enormous number of MISSED TRAVELS in a game.  Based on our analysis, approximately half of the 80-100 bad calls or no-calls in a game are missed travels.

We have published another piece on why missed traveling calls are so prevalent that you can checkout later at refcalls.com/missed-travels, but the main reason is because they are difficult to detect at real speed, which means you have to watch each potential traveling call frame-by-frame to see if a travel really occurred.  This all adds to the amount of time it takes to break down a game in its entirety.

So what we decided to do is focus primarily on publishing those calls and missed calls that have the most IMPACT on the outcome of a game, and if there weren’t any that had an impact, those calls or no-calls that were just plain terrible.

If you’re new to RefCalls.com, check out our other video on how you can help us improve the game of basketball.

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How to report bad calls, missed calls and flops

April 8th, 2011 No comments

If you want to know how you can get involved to report bad calls, missed calls and flops you see in basketball games, checkout the video or transcript below, then go to the RefCalls.com forums to report them.

Since recording the video, we’ve created another way for you to report bad calls & missed calls. Now you can use Twitter by following these instructions.

Here’s how you can get involved to help improve the game of basketball. If you see a call that was blown or missed by a ref, or even a flop by a player, we want you to report it to us in the RefCalls forum.  All you have to do is go to RefCalls.com/forums, register for a free account, then find the games that you’ve watched and provide the following information about the call, or missed call, or flop.  That would be:

– The quarter
– The time on the game clock
– The players involved, and
– What you think the ref called wrong, or was missed, or what he got right.  Or report the player who flopped.

We’ll then research it, determine if it was the correct call or no-call, provide a response most of the time (time permitting), and log it into our database.  And if the call or no-call had a big impact on the outcome of the game or was just plain awful, we’ll publish it on the RefCalls.com home page.  

So what else is in it for you, you might ask?  Well, for those fans who consistently provide bad ref-call, missed call, and top flop information that match up pretty well with our assessments , there could come a time as we grow and get more capital that we could offer some paid, part-time work for our most loyal volunteers.  And through our site, you also get the opportunity to vent so that maybe those refs who got it wrong will do a better job, or the NBA or NCAA will take steps to improve those refs who need it, and reward those who are really good.

We look forward to you reporting bad calls or no-calls in the forum, and we’ll see you on our home page – RefCalls.com.  And for those flops from players that drive you crazy, you can check those out on our sister site TopFlops.com.

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We’ll be covering all NBA playoff games!

April 8th, 2011 No comments

We have launched RefCalls.com and TopFlops.com in time for the best part of the NBA season — the playoffs!

Inspired by the depth of analysis every day from some of our favorite NBA blogs like Truehoop and NBA Playbook, we’re going to cover every playoff game, which will also be the case for the regular season next year.

If you want to be a part of making sure the refs’ performances are tracked every step of the way, you can report bad and missed calls in the forum, as well as players flops, too.

Categories: About, Basketball Tags: