Thursday, March 15, 2012

Reviewing the Officials' Calls at the end of No. 1 Syracuse vs. No. 16 UNC-Asheville

NCAA Basketball Referee Ed Corbett was thrown under the bus by Director of Officiating John Adams Thursday afternoon after a series of controversial calls and perceived missed calls went against underdog No. 16 UNC-Asheville, a team that had tried to defeat No. 1 Syracuse during the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament colloquially known as March Madness.

Throughout the UNC-Asheville vs. Syracuse contest, fans complained of several close calls they felt were gross misses. Let's go to the tape, it's time for a video analysis. The following three plays shall be discussed:
  1. Goaltend, Basket Interference or No-Call
  2. Lane Violation Against UNC-Asheville or No-Call
  3. Foul Against UNC-Asheville, Ball Awarded Out of Bounds to UNC-Asheville or Syracuse

Play One: Goaltend, Interference or No-Call; Disposition: Incorrect No Call (INC)
We have seen the great difficulty in calling the "off the glass" goal-tend call before, both at the college and at the NBA level.

In January, officials missed a goaltending call with less than 30 seconds to go during the West Virginia vs. Syracuse game.

This is a very difficult call to make, for it requires judgment as to when the ball first contacts the backboard.

However, goaltending is not the call we are after on this play. Because the Syracuse defender contacts the basketball while it is within the cylinder, the proper call here is basket interference. The main difference between interference and goaltending is that interference may be perpetrated by either offense or defense and the ball need not have been released on a shot attempt for interference to be called; basket interference can be called on a pass, for instance.

Upon further review from the optimal angle for this play (shown above), the officials missed this call.

Play Two: Lane Violation Against UNC-Asheville; Disposition: Correct Call (CC)
When CBS/Turner assigns commentators and broadcasters—and especially analysts—to its March Madness games, it would be extremely helpful if said personnel knew a little about NCAA Basketball rules.

In college, any player who does not occupy a lane space must wait until a free throw attempt first strikes the backboard or ring before crossing his respective restrictive line.

In the case of Primm, because he was lined up outside the three-point arc, he was restricted from crossing that boundary until the ball first struck the backboard. This is a fairly simple call and was correctly enforced.

The NBA does not have this restriction; hence the confusion and incorrect assessments given by the broadcast crew. This call was correct.

Play Three: Syracuse vs. UNC-ASH Throw-In Out of Bounds; Disposition: Incorrect No Call (INC) by the book; Correct Call (CC) in practice
This is one of those dirty secrets of officiating type of calls. We have two players, who have an equal right to an inbounds pass, collide in midair and the ball fall out of bounds. The only question for the official is whether the contact between the two players is enough to merit a foul call, and if so, on whom shall that call be made against?

If the official rules incidental contact and no foul, the pass deflected off Syracuse Orange's player.
If the official rules significant contact, it appears the UNC-Asheville player would have been responsible, for he created the contact against an airborne player (not to be confused with an airborne shooter, who enjoys separate privileges).

When officials see this type of a play with a ball deflecting out of bounds, informal customs dictate to "pass" on the foul by awarding the basketball to the offended team out of bounds, or in this case, Syracuse.

However, the rules book does not support "passing" on fouls, so when Coordinator Adams joined the March Madness studio show on TruTV, he had no choice but to call this play exactly as prescribed by the rules: claiming that referee Corbett missed the call by awarding the ball out of bounds to the incorrect team.

In the end and strictly by rule, this play ends with a foul against UNC-Ashville or the ball being awarded out of bounds to UNC-Ashville—there is no comprise as is the case with "passing" on a foul. Because we don't know if Corbett would have called a foul or not nor if he was "passing," it is impossible to determine whether this is an Incorrect No Call (as would be the case if a foul should have been called) or an Incorrect Call (as would be the case if no foul should have been called).

Either way, this call is incorrect by rule, though it may be correct in practice.


Anonymous said...

1. Clearly a bad call.

2. Ridiculous rule. The players on the lane can step in when the ball leaves the shooters hands. The player behind the three point line cannot cross until the ball hits the rim? That makes no sense. I watch a lot of basketball and never see this call made. What are the chances the player behind the three point line is going to get a rebound based on the rule you explained?

3. This explanation makes no sense. Both players have rights to the ball. If no foul is called, then the ball should be awarded to the team who did not knock the ball out of bounds.

Anonymous said...

@819pm, for number 2, it looks to me like the player behind the three point line DID get the rebound as a result of breaking the college rule for when he can go in on free throws. Pretty straightforward to me.

For number 3, it looks like UNC's player undercut the Syracuse guy, which would make UNC be called for a foul if it was indeed a foul. There's a range of contact that is permissible with more severe contact being illegal. Looks like all 3 is saying is that this was on the border and the ref decided to give the ball to Cuse out of bounds rather than call a foul on UNC for the marginal contact. Makes sense to me.

Nathan said...

A few things here.

First: on the lane violation. I'm not certain why 8:19pm would say this is a ridiculous rule, but it's been the rule in the NCAA for decades, and the player should know better. It *is* the rule, and this was a clear violation. Good call by the Center official here.

Second: I have a suspicion that the official who missed the Out of Bounds call was not "passing on the foul" but simply missed the call. I can't prove this, but there was a camera angle shown on the broadcast (sadly not in this clip) that was right over the official's shoulder on the end line. I hadn't been watching, and this was the first replay I saw (so my first view of the play): it looked remarkably like the UNCA player swung his hand at the ball and grazed it.

In reality, of course, that was just a perspective trick - the ball hit the Syracuse player's hands at the moment the UNCA player swung his hand across. But on my first view (which was pretty damn similar to the Official's view), it actually did look like the UNCA player hit the ball. And, I would add, there was no obvious foul from this perspective - the official looked through the UNCA player to the SU player and wouldn't have seen the contact between them.

Now I don't contest that officials do "pass" on the foul and simply give the ball to the offended team out of bounds. I've done it many times, though we try to only do it when the Out of Bounds call is close anyway. But I suspect that in this case the official on the end line simply called it as he saw it from where he was (and it was his call, the other official on this sideline is already well downcourt to get to the other end line) and just plain missed it.

Finally, a note: the crew in this game made a fairly significant mistake at the end of the first half of this game, failing to allow a score by Syracuse. The crew reviewed the play and ruled that the shot clock had expired, and the half had ended. However, the foul occurred before the shot clock period ended; by rule, this allows the player to continue his shot, as the foul stops the clock. The officials should have scored the goal and awarded one free throw to the Syracuse player. This play, for some reason, isn't show up in many discussions of this game (and it's a pretty serious mistake).

Anonymous said...

Yeah, wish there was video of that shot clock situation. John Adams said they handled it correctly as the play was reviewable because the period "expired."

But remember, this call was against the favorite, so by rule, we don't count it in our b*fest complaining about how referees are biased and Corbett is part of the Big East conspiracy because he probably went to Syracuse though no source anywhere actually says it.

Anonymous said...

Had the goaltending call really been goaltending not basket interference, I'd agree that it's a really tough call to make. What I don't understand is it's basket interference, the ball is in that cylinder, why can't they get that call, especially on its downward flight so at the very least, call something.

I think the pass on the foul explanation is great, but I don't think Corbett is smart enough to have thought of it. He just blew the call. People saying that horrible officiating destroyed the Syracuse Asheville game are wrong too, these are just a few calls that were poor. Doesn't take away from everything else that went right during this game.

Anonymous said...

I've said this before when you describe the Kulpa and the Miller rules: you're too smart for what's going on on the field/court and in this case, I think you're giving the refs too much credit. As the previous poster wrote, I can't imagine Corbett would dare pass on a foul in such a high profile situation because if he did, coaches and his supervisors would be all over him. As said, it's a great explanation to come up with given what happened, but I agree that neither referee Corbett nor admin Adams will have thought of using it, especially with Adams agreeing to go on TruTV and just folding and saying "I'm sorry, we blew it" to a group of desk jockeys that don't know the sport.

And reggie miller complaining about the lane violation of the free throw—shouldn't a basketball player/person of the game KNOW THE RULES? That was embarrassing for him, it shows how poor of a TV personality he is. Seriously, don't say "terrible call, officials are bad" and then come back a minute later saying "Oh, I don't know the rule about lane violations." Guess what - they got it right, so shut your mouth. That was almost as bad as some of the crap Hawk Harrelson comes up with.

Nathan said...

I think part of why Reggie was so sure here - in the NBA, restrictions on all players except the shooters end at the release (NBA 10-I-c, d). So in the NBA, that's not a violation, but it is in the NCAA. This is the danger of using NBA broadcasters to call college games :-) But I don't blame Reggie as badly here - it's just a poor choice by CBS and Turner, IMO.

Anonymous said...

Look, let us not get hyper technical. Corbett is just bad. He is known in the Big East as a 'cuse homer. You get him in Syr. you are going to lose.
Here is where Adams/Corbett miss the point. Adams tutorial in how they evaluate officials he says it is largely a reflection of the competence of the official in the 3M moments. Quoting now " major moment management"..
A good ref gets help when the game is on the line and a bad call denies the team an opportunity. Let them confer as many refs do, let them look at monitor the last 2 minutes and get the freekin' call right. Quit the BS excuses GET IT RIGHT AND NO ONE COMPLAINS. Where is the great Hank Nichols when we need him?

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