Friday, March 15, 2013

A-10 Controversy

The A-10 plays great basketball.  Take Butler.  They beat Gonzaga and are only the fifth seed in their conference tournament!  Gotta love it. It's a shame that ESPN televised the opening round but won't be back until the finals on Sunday.  They'll be too busy with the ACC and Bee-One-Gee.

I'm Not Making This Up
What an amazing finish. Charlotte is down 63-60 to  Richmond with 5.9 seconds to go in the A-10 tournament opener. Richmond fouls in order to prevent a three point attempt.

Now, as an aside, I think any foul in the last minute should be two shots and the ball. C'mon, you're ahead by three and you intentionally foul the other team?  This practice completely changes the nature and flow of the game. Discouraging late fouls would also speed things up.  I'm tired of the 10 minutes it takes to play the last minute of a game. Of course, some of that is due to all the timeouts, which is a another pet peeve of mine.  ...I guess that's two asides.

During the first free throw, Richmond's Derrick Williams gets entangled with Charlotte's Willie Clayton and throws him down with a forearm.  Since the foul (yes, it was a foul) happened during a dead ball, it's automatically a technical.  Free throws completed, Charlotte has the lead and the ball.  Richmond fouls and coach Chris Mooney gets called for two technicals.

Eleven free throws result from the entire sequence and Charlotte wins 68-63. Read all about it here.

ESPN cries controversial!  Nope.  You foul, you pay the price. Williams made a huge mistake in judgment.  Coach Mooney compounded it.  I wonder if perhaps coach Mooney took the technicals on purpose to protect Williams, even though his team still had a slim chance at the win.  It served to shift some of the burden of the loss.

Bottom line, I don't believe refs should swallow the whistle in the final minutes of the game.  The rules don't change as the clock winds down.  The game results up to that time are a result of play under certain guidelines.  If you change the guidelines, such as a ref's willingness to call a foul a foul, then you become an agent in changing the game.  The rules provide the framework.  Play within them. 

As it was, Charlotte was on the short end of the calls all night, having four guys foul out.  A number of calls were simply awful (the "controversial" call was not.)  Richmond was adept at taking the charge (read: flopping) and selling it to the refs.  The Charlotte win was karmic balance.

Gonzaga #1?
I'm not convinced that Gonzaga is a number one team.  And it has nothing to do with their generally weak schedule, at least not directly.  They play beautiful basketball.  Olynyk is beyond impressive. But I think they are vulnerable at the guard position and can't help but feel that a physically tough team with discipline will take them down in the tournament.  I wouldn't be surprised if they don't make it past the Sweet Sixteen.  It all depends on the matchups.

Elsewhere in the WCC, I think St. Mary's will get invited to the dance.  Point guard Dellavedova is a joy to watch.  Yeah, he's slow, but he has wonderful court sense.  As for the team, I think they, like the Zags, will make a relatively early exit.  I just don't think they're that good.

Foolish Consistency?
I watched Steve Fisher's (remember the Fab 5?) San Diego State team lose to Boise State.  SDSU was an early darling of the rankings then stumbled in the second half of the season.  Fisher has had a long career and his teams are always the same.  He recruits talented kids and basically gives them the ball and tells them to go play.  I used to view that derisively, but there's something to say for letting the kids have fun.  It's also nice to see a coach who generally refrains from standing out on the court during play, micromanaging his players' every move.  But his teams tend to disappoint and, for me, aren't very fun to watch except on an individual basis.

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