This NCAA Basketball season was a success in many ways, with one glaring issue, the Officiating. The officiating this basketball season, especially in the NCAA tournament, has been horrible, inconsistent, and quite frankly inexcusable. Coaches and players have been complaining about it for years, and finally, with the help of social media devices such as twitter, it appears as if sports fans have been able to hone in on the problem as well. The players and coaches should be the only people that affect the outcome of a game, but somehow the game has evolved allowing these three nameless and seemingly insignificant men dressed in stripes (otherwise known as zebras) to become the center of attention.
Millions of Americans stayed up last night, including myself, to watch the highly anticipated NCAA tournament basketball championship showdown between Duke and Wisconsin. It was a thriller, coming down to the final minutes, with Duke pulling away in the end. But, what decided the game wasn’t a missed/made shot or an outstanding defensive play. It was one horrible call made at the end of the game by the referees. CBS replayed it at least 5 times and anyone with eyes and a brain could tell the ball clearly went out off of Duke’s Justice Winslow’s fingertips. Unfortunately the Refs botched the call and Duke not only received the ball, but were basically handed the national championship trophy as well. This tournament was a success in many ways, with one glaring issue, the Officiating.
One of the most hyped up games during the tournament was the Kentucky-West Virginia game. Most people believed that West Virginia, with their excellent guard play, full court pressure and up tempo style of play, had a legitimate shot at slaying Goliath. But, just 2 minutes into the game West Virginia had already been called for 4 fouls and arguably their best player, Devin Williams, was on the bench with 2 fouls. A few more fouls later and Kentucky was already in the bonus, forcing West Virginia to drastically change their style of play. Kentucky went on to obliterate West Virginia, but what most people don’t realize is the game was over before it started. It’s pretty evident that the referees had talked before the game and determined that West Virginia’s aggressive style of play would not be tolerated. They were determined seize control from the start, and they did just that. The Refs impact on the game was very evident as #LetThemPlay was trending on twitter that night. Kentucky was probably the better team, but, let’s be honest; the zebras never gave WVU a shot.
The product has been tarnished and it needs to be fixed. In almost every game it seems as if each call is decided by a coin flip in the referee’s mind. There is absolutely no consistency. The same drive can be either a block or a charge with seemingly no way for players or coaches to differentiate.
There’s one simple solution. Call less fouls and let the players play.