By Larry Pritchett
Past PCHS Activities Director
The past couple of weeks have been filled watching NCAA, NIT, and CBI tournament games and there have been some really good ones. A lot of the sports reporters have been saying that there isn’t a really great team in men’s college basketball this year. Technically that might be true, but it doesn’t mean that there isn’t any chance of some exciting games to watch.
There have been some overtime games, a double overtime game and probably the strangest finish to a game that I have ever seen.
The Butler-Pitt game finish is even hard to explain and I have seen it replayed a number of times. You just don’t think that a game could finish like it did, but this one provided a lot of different things.
Pittsburg was the top seed of that region and most “experts” thought they had the easiest path to the final four.
What people think and what happens in the NCAA oft times are light years different. Butler scores with 7.1 seconds left in the game to go up by one. Pitt throws the ball in up the sideline and Butler’s Sheldon Mack runs into the Pitt player and fouls him so Pitt goes to the line for two shots since Pitt is in the double bonus.
The replays pretty much show it was a foul, but a lot of officials would have never blown the whistle on the play.
Pitt goes to the line, makes one to tie and then misses the second. Worst possible thing as a coach you would think is that we are going to overtime. But no, Pitt fouls on the rebound with .8 seconds left.
Butler’s Matt Howard goes down and makes the first free throw to go up one and then misses on purpose and Pitt can’t get a shot off in time.
Again on the replay there was a foul, but I would say that the chance of an official calling it was 100 times rarer than Mack’s foul at mid court.
Anyway there was more action in the last 7.1 seconds than in 40 minutes of some games. Those last few seconds could possibly go down as an epic highlight in NCAA history.
I am sure Jamie Dixson, Pitt’s coach, will tire of seeing the replays, hearing the analysis of all the sports reporters, and maybe even lose a few hours sleep thinking about the game.
Often times the officials catch the brunt of everything, but when everything was sorted out in the Pitt/Butler game I think they got it all correct. The calls were correct, the players just made some really poor decisions.
You always hear some of the so called “experts” saying that the officials should swallow their whistles at the close of the game and let the players decide the game, not the officials. But if the officials don’t make calls where there is a violation of the rules, then they actually did decide the game.
One of the officials in the Pitt/Butler game was an Omaha official, John Higgins. Higgins does a lot of Big 12, Missouri Valley games and it was good to see him on a crew that made calls that needed to be called and were correct in doing so.
Another game where there were some questionable calls was the Texas/Arizona game. There was a questionable five second call on a throw in.
I have always said that most of the time you only get four seconds on those because if you watch films, the official usually tosses the ball to the player and you get a one count all on the same motion. So you had a quick five there, and then at the end it appeared that a foul could have been called but wasn’t.
One of the officials in the crew working that game was one of the officials who walked off the court before the game was over during the Big East tournament. I guess you get a second chance by getting to work the NCAA tournament.
A lot of people don’t like him, but I like Charles Barkley doing college games. Barkley doesn’t hold back his opinion of things. He didn’t think the Big East should have had as many teams in the tournament as they did and he said so. He kept referring to them as the “Big Least” They did get 11 teams in and only two of them made it past the first weekend. He might have had a good point.
The last paragraph of this week comes just minutes after KU lost to VCU. It was supposed to be a mismatch and it ended up being just that.
When you shoot two for 22 from the three-point arc, 22/62 from two point, and 15/28 from the free throw line, the game probably is a mismatch, the problem here is that a number one seed got the above stats and a number 11 seed won the game.
VCU, according to a lot of people, shouldn’t have gotten a bid to the tournament and now two weeks later, they are in the final four. Again, that is why you play the games.
By the end of the evening we will know the last team in the final four and that will be Kentucky or North Carolina.