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Our inaugural critique: the Arizona-Texas blown 5-second call

April 9th, 2011 No comments

There were plenty of bad calls over the past few months in basketball, but the one on March 9th between Arizona and Texas in the NCAA tourney was so bad, it still has lasting power even after a month. Although we’ll be focusing mainly on NBA games over the next few weeks as we head into the playoffs, the game we’ve chosen is an NCAA tournament game.

I’ve read several articles that reference it as one of the most controversial calls of the tournament. “Controversial” is a light term for it – I call it “absolutely blown.” And it didn’t even involve a foul where players collided into each other or something difficult to call.

It was the sickening dead ball violation that Richard Cartsmell, er…I mean Richard Cartmell, called. The guy can’t even count right, is vociferous in his antics on the court when calling it, and even defended it afterwards through a statement to the press. This guy should be fired for one of the worst calls we have ever seen.

In case you haven’t seen it, you can checkout the video below. It’s pretty self explanatory, and was a huge blown call because it changed the outcome of the game.

Texas was up 69-67 with just 14.5 seconds remaining. All they had to do was inbound the ball, get fouled, go to the line, make one or two free throws, and Texas’ chances of beating Arizona and advancing to the Sweet 16 would have gone up significantly.

As expected, Arizona defended the inbound pass well, but Texas’ Corey Joseph called timeout before his 5 seconds were up (ESPN even put an electronic stopwatch on the play later, and it was about 4.36 seconds).

After chopping his arm four times, Cartmell had a brain fart, wanted to be part of the show (maybe give the game more drama, who knows), sped up his 5th chop without even extending his arm fully, then called a 5-second violation against Texas, gave the ball to Arizona, and Derrick Williams converted on a 3-point play to put Arizona up 70-69.

It was a HUUUUGE blown call that was basically a 5-point play that helped give Arizona the lead and swung the pendulum in their favor and won them the game.

Even columnist Mike Jones of the Fort Worth Star Telegram said it was a blown call, as you’ll read here. And believe me, folks from Fort Worth aren’t normally sympathetic to Texas fans down in Austin unless the beef is legitimate. Jones called it like he saw it, and he was right.

What’s interesting is that after the game, I watched what some of the so-called basketball experts were saying about it. Some of them were confused that the rules state that you can’t call a timeout after four seconds. Well, that part of the rule was removed and changed recently, probably because it made no sense.

Then alleged basketball expert Jay Bilas commented on ESPN that he thought the ref got it right. Sorry Bilas, but to use one of your words in referencing VCU getting a tournament bid was “indefensible,” your comment on this blown call is the same.

It didn’t get much better for the refs on the ensuing possession when they swallowed the whistle after Texas J’Covan Brown was obviously pushed as he drove into the lane (see video below) that could have sent him to the line, but no foul was called. He also appeared to be fouled on the right wrist when he shot the ball.

But for some reason, announcer Steve Kerr prefers to focus on the potential foul on Gary Johnson when the game clock expired, which looks less like a foul in regulation than the two on Brown as he drove to the basket.

We did have a problem with the head ref not even LOOKING at the replay to see if time expired before Johnson was fouled. Isn’t it interesting that it’s the same ref (Jim Burr) who was involved in the travesty of leaving the court without looking at the replay at the end of the controversial St. Johns-Rutgers game (read more details here and/or watch the video below).

It is incompetence like this that maddens basketball fans like us who say enough is enough – we’re going to hold these refs accountable, and we’re going to name names.

Isn’t it interesting that in the college game, none of the refs have numbers on their jerseys to make it easier to identify who they are? At least the NBA has the guts to put numbers on the backs of their refs’ jerseys.