The Great Traveling Conversation, Part One

I’ve been dying to get around to putting this on the blog for over a month now…and, I promise you that we will be focusing more and more and more on this in the future. This basketball season has finally seen attention being given to one of my biggest pet peeves in all of college basketball:  horrible officiating of the walking violation. (One day we will get around to carrying the basketball; but, for now we will focus on the travel).

Four the last three years we have all gone nuts watching Tyler Hansbrough travel multiple times per game. In games played in the RBC Center in years past I have literally watched (live) as Hansbrough possessed the basketball and moved from outside the free throw line all the way to the basket without dribbling and without a walking violation be called. As 19,722 fans screamed and imitated the traveling violation, the three officials would just turn and run to the other end of the court oblivious to the most simple and usually obvious rule in all of college basketball.

So, imagine my happiness when the following following video from Bobby Knight (that can also be seen at this link on ESPN) originally aired on the network earlier in the season. Heck, I was so pleased when ESPN originally ran this that I went out and bought hardware that allowed me to digitally copy items from my Tivo and move them onto my computer. You MUST watch this.

Note that they show a quick clip from Duke in the video and then Knight focuses on ‘#50′ with one of his examples. The scary thing is that Knight only verbally identifies five steps in the previous video while the video editor obviously identifies SIX steps without a whistle. I throw this out to the community because we are going to talk about it a lot more in the future and we are going to beat this drum loudly. This is RIDCULOUS and the inconsistency of how the incompetence is applied is even more ridiculous.

Allow me to give you a couple of quick points of which I am working to create videos to put on the site to support the discussion:

* During State’s game in Chapel Hill last week, Javi Gonzalez got called for a very questionable travelig violation that served to negate a sure two points from Tracey Smith after a Gonzalez dish. Again, it was very questionable; surely not obvious. During that game, their were FIVE individual situations where a Carolina player CLEARLY travelled (with three or more steps) with NO call. In EVERY one of these situations Carolina ended up scoring (some were three points). This means that Carolina gained a net of 13-15 points on bad traveling calls in a game that they won by 9 points. (Again, I am working on videos to share with you).

* Please refer you to the following comments I typed just after Virginia Tech’s officially-supported run during State’s collapse in Blacksburg last month.

On the following inbounds play that gave Tech the ball because of the intentional foul, the receiver of the inbounds pass took — get ready for this — at least SIX STEPS without dribbing the ball and without being called for a traveling violation. I am not using hyperbole. I am not kidding. If you count the shuffling of feet as twp steps instead of one then you get to seven or eight steps. Again, this is not a joke. How in the hell can a college official MISS SIX-SEVEN-EIGHT steps with NO dribble?! (Again, we hope to have video later). Of course, the lack of the travling call benefited the Hokies who proceeded to hit a three point basket just seconds later.

Do you think that I am exaggerating? Take a look at the following videos for some representative examples of just how egregious some of these violations can be:

Wake @ Duke on 2/22/09: Duke shot 36 FTs while playing a perimeter offense; Wake shot 16 FTs while trying to attack inside

Josh McRoberts @ Duke

Tyler Hansbrough – Just a taste

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74 Responses to The Great Traveling Conversation, Part One

  1. STLPack01 02/24/2009 at 1:46 PM #

    can’t wait to see the video from the VPI game.

  2. CannonballJunior 02/24/2009 at 1:48 PM #

    Be reassured that all these examples really consisted of just one step and were completely legal.

    What is more, please understand that one of the several unfortunate side-effects of being in the Lunatic Fringe is mass-hallucinating of 2, 3, 4, 5, etc steps.

  3. StateFans 02/24/2009 at 1:50 PM #

    You know something is big when it hits Deadspin.

    I don’t understand why people think that Duke gets special treatment in the college basketball world. Are they trying to say that another school wouldn’t get way with 12 steps between each dribble?

    Yes, freshman guard Elliot Williams managed to move back about six feet without actually bouncing the basketball he was carrying, but that doesn’t mean there is some sort of national conspiracy to favor the Blue Devils in every aspect of the game. Frankly, I thought traveling rules had taken off the books years ago, but apparently all those mindless Duke haters see the fact that no whistle was called here as some sort of “unfair advantage” that violates the “spirit of the game” and “spits on the grave of Pete Maravich

  4. Alpha Wolf 02/24/2009 at 1:51 PM #

    You are absolutely correct in your assessment of the quality of Hansbrough-ing traveling calls made across the landscape of college hoops.

    I think it is part of the general deterioration in the quality of officiating. The charge-block call is now a crap-shoot even when it is painfully obvious. A guy on offense can often lean into a set stationary and completely vertical defender and get a call, for example.

    Another one hardly ever called is palming – seems like it was a point of emphasis for a while, but stuff that was called 10-15 years ago are now a normal part of the game. Sure, the game has changed, but that rule has not. It’s just ignored now is all.

    Coaches can get away with more of a foul mouth than they used to – and it seems like certain coaches control the officials, not vice versa. Used to be, if a zebra heard a coach cussing, he’d get the T. Now, parents have to bring ear plugs for their kids when they sit near certain benches.

    Finally, I am seeing more over the backs left uncalled in the paint.

    I could go on and on, but I really think that refereeing has really gone downhill. The college zebras have turned into the basketball equivilant of MLB’s umpires in that they decide what rules are important and which are not. In other words, they now govern the game, not the guys who supposedly make the rules.

  5. packbackr04 02/24/2009 at 1:52 PM #

    sorry for the off topic post… but Did anyone see Butchie cut 3 more kids from the football team over the weekend. and the waiver wire continues…. hey, gotta make room for the kids that Butch recruited.

  6. BoKnowsNCS71 02/24/2009 at 1:58 PM #

    Davis’s version of Survival of the Fittest. If he can recruit a better kid, he downsizes the ones he has. It’s not about student/player any more it’s about player/winning record.

  7. packbackr04 02/24/2009 at 2:00 PM #

    i cant wait to see the VPI video along with the UNC game travels… you should send them to the league office and Sidney Lowes office.

  8. wufpup76 02/24/2009 at 2:04 PM #

    College basketball is heading toward NBA sketchiness and ACC / Pac-10 refs are leading the charge (emphasis on the word “charge”).

    What’s that? If a player travels literally every effing time he handles the ball it’s ok to cut him some slack??? Ohh, ok – THANKS DAVID STERN. And a special “thank you” to John Clougherty.

    It’s bad enough that halfcourt sets have devolved into who can out-wrestle who and who can set the most / best illegal picks – now players can dance across the floor without dribbling and have no fear of penalty.

    Officiating has become selective at worst and uneven and inconsistent at best.

    CALL THE F’N GAME EVENLY AND WITHIN THE FREAKING RULES. The rest should take care of itself.

    Thank God for the interwebs, maybe someone in some type of meaningful position of authority who happens to have some viable brain cells will see some of this type stuff and the message can finally get through. … On second thought, I won’t hold my breath.

  9. Clarksa 02/24/2009 at 2:11 PM #

    Someone started a good site tracking some of the bigger mistakes…but it hasn’t been updated in a year: http://accofficiatingreport.blogspot.com/

    …and of course, there is the Infamous ACC index card by Mark Packer: http://packsmack.com/InfamousACCIndexCard/

    …which you will notice Duke is +62 and UNC-CH is +116!

  10. Pack Leader 02/24/2009 at 2:16 PM #

    I wish the NCAA officials would step in but they never will because the “stars” of the league would be deminshed. Just look in the pros as proof it will never change. Lebron James travels on almost every single drive to the basket, calling it his patented ,” crab dribble.” WTF IS A CRAB DRIBBLE?!?! That is called 3 steps and a pro hop. NCAA isnt going to make things harder on itself on top of losing some the top tallent in the league every single year.
    One can say the same thing about the guards carrying the ball. Atleast 10 times a game I yell out “CARRY” but its never called. The point guard position has changed and its much more flashy than 25 years (ex. crossover, spin moves, fake outs etc..) ago and with that bending of the rules to exicute these moves. Our refs have almost become Desinsitized to breaking the rules simple because they could call a violation on almost every single possition. It would slow the game down, anger the fans even more, and bring down even more heat from league commissioners all over.
    I do love it when the old school coachs stand up and bring attention to the subject like knight did. Atleast not everyone is afraid to say something critical of hansblower.

  11. Classof89 02/24/2009 at 2:22 PM #

    More power to Bob Knight for using the bully pulpit of his new gig at ESPN to expose the poor officiating in college basketball that he ranted and raved about for decades (but that most of us ignored, because he was a coach, and coaches are supposed to do that…)

  12. RabidWolf 02/24/2009 at 2:32 PM #

    CannonballJunior
    February 24th, 2009 at 1:48 pm
    Be reassured that all these examples really consisted of just one step and were completely legal.

    What is more, please understand that one of the several unfortunate side-effects of being in the Lunatic Fringe is mass-hallucinating of 2, 3, 4, 5, etc steps.

    Hansbrough (and for the most part the ENTIRE Duke roster) travels every time they touch the ball!!
    I am by NO means a pro baller, nor am I an official(wouldn’t want to be). However, my understanding of the rule is that a player, once he/she has STOPPED dribbling the ball, is allowed 2 steps toward the basket. If the player jump stops, either foot may be moved, while leaving the other foot planted as a pivot. All this jump stop plus 2 steps IS walking…period. So I’m a lunatic….or maybe I know the game just a little bit.

  13. Sweet jumper 02/24/2009 at 2:35 PM #

    It is a huge blow to the confidence of the underdog when everybody’s preseason POY travels during 99+% of his post moves and mauls anyone within arm’s reach while at the other end the underdog is called for the questionable stutter step and incidental contact on multiple occasions. I wish most announcers had the guts to report the truth like Knight and not let the hypocrisy continue. The rules should be enforced equally and then we would see who the best players and who the best teams are.

  14. Par Shooter 02/24/2009 at 3:07 PM #

    I think the moving screen is probably more frequent and blatant than the travelling and that’s really saying something. If you ever really watch Duke’s offense it is almost entirely based on moving screens. You could literally call a moving screen an every single half court possession against those guys.

    The leinancy in travelling and allowing all of the physical contact in the post go hand-in-hand. There are a lot of times when a guy has established a pivot foot and then gets bumped into moving his pivot foot. It should probably be a foul but if not a foul then a travel. It’s like they kinda net it all out and just let them play. It’s gotten to the point where if they really called fouls the way the rule book says then every player would foul out but they hesitate to call a travel if it was caused by a foul.

    That clip with Duke #20 is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. I coach 7 yr old girls basketball and it reminds me of the occasions where a girl just forgets to dribble and takes off. What is really scary is that K would have probably exploded into a cloud of F-bombs if those 12 steps would have been deemed a travel.

  15. Rick 02/24/2009 at 3:23 PM #

    “I think the moving screen is probably more frequent and blatant than the travelling and that’s really saying something”

    Not only are they moving they have their legs spread out. It is illegal. Legally you have a cylinder that is as wide as your shoulders and your legs are not supposed to be any wider than that.

    Hansbrough should not be in any record books. His offense is given to him by the officals. If they called the walks and charges and did not call the contact that he creates that are called fouls he would not even average double figures.

  16. choppack1 02/24/2009 at 3:45 PM #

    I actually think Duke (and Hansborough) gains a bigger advantage from handchecking the ball handler than you get from bodying up a guy in the post.

    This prevents a team from even running their offense. What is such a shame is that this tactic can be stopped by calling it twice quickly. However, they don’t do that.

    My second big gripe is the slight contact and foul call on the clear shot under the basket. This shouldn’t be confused w/ the obvious contact foul. What I’m talking about is the play where the big man has the ball and is going up to shoot, there’s minor contact (so minor the big man’s shot isn’t even impacted or altered) and they blow the whistle.

    OTOH, if you are a guy who shoots 3s, contact is allowed – which really does impact a 20 foot shoot – w/ a few notable exceptions.

    At the end of the day, these things don’t surprise. Basketball is a game where the officials play way too big a role. Someone on here earlier mentioned the equivalent of baseball umps. What I’ve always heard is that all an official really needs to be is consistent and fair. If Javi does it and is called for a walk, Hansborough should be called for walks. If it’s a walk when somebody off the NBA bench does it, then it’s a walk when Lebron does it.

    Of course, basketball – in both the pros and the ACC, IMHO, has made a decision – whether conscious or unconscious – to give certain players and coaches the benefit of the doubt, while not granting the same to all of them. It’s why I don’t watch the NBA, and why I don’t enjoy watching the ACC like I used to.

    Here’s some good news though – Hansborough isn’t going the line as much recently – so I’ll give them credit for that.

  17. wufpup76 02/24/2009 at 3:53 PM #

    Glad to know I’m not alone in feeling the way I do …

    I’ve always felt that one call (or missed call) or a series of calls can go a long way to demoralizing one team or the other during a game. I always feel better when people talk about the timing of calls as well.

    One call that really sticks out to me was a game at Duke where HWSNBN’s 3rd squad led by 2 with posession of the ball under a minute to play (This also happened to be the infamous “Damon Thornton technical foul while dunking at Maryland” season). Anyway, the Duke game – Gainey crossed mid-court and the time rolled under one minute to play – no defender was within 10 feet of Gainey … Out of nowhere, a whistle … The call? Carrying the ball – while dribbling it standing still to take time off the clock. The call had not been made or enforced the entire game – then BAM – out of nowhere it comes.

    Needless to say, a few game seconds later Duke is up by 5 points with 9 seconds remaining and State pulls a near miracle to force overtime. Of course, in grand HWSNBN fashion State loses gloriously in overtime. I still think about what may have happened with State and HWSNBN if that team had made the NCAA tourny as they were on their way to doing before the @Duke and @Md games. Would the Princeton offense ever have been adopted? Would HWSNBN still be here after making an NCAA tournament in year 3 as opposed to year 6?

    Clearly, a bad call can affect more than just one outcome of one game …

  18. RickJ 02/24/2009 at 3:55 PM #

    This is the type of entry that really sets this blog apart. Great, great work.

    The 2003 ACC championship game between State & Duke is the best example of the travesty of the moving screen. Cliff Crawford ran through at least 20 moving screens chasing JJ Redick all over the court. For his efforts, he was given 5 fouls and a seat on the bench. Redick promptly went off and Duke cut down the nets

  19. choppack1 02/24/2009 at 4:40 PM #

    You guys are right on both accounts (though I think the Duke game you mention was Sendek’s 4th squad wulfpup) about the officiating.

    However, Sendek allowed this to happen. Instead of humiliating the officials and questioning the integrity of the league, he went the path the league wanted him to: he sent his tapes into the league office, along w/ the cover letter. These may have been very forceful letters, but since the public never saw them – well, the league didn’t change it’s behavior.

    I’ll never forget the “T” I saw Sendek given at Wake Forest when he had the audicity to ask “What’s the difference?” after a call.

    Clearly, if he was respected, he certainly wasn’t feared. No official ever worried about screwing him over.

    As we saw in our game vs. VaTech, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. I’m entirely convinced that in the ACC and often in basketball in general, the officials will defer to the superstars (whether they are coaches or players) to the expense of those who don’t fall in the same category. It speaks volumes of their moral fiber.

  20. howlie 02/24/2009 at 4:51 PM #

    The PackPride basketball board
    had another instance from the Duke WFU game the other night that was more outrageous than those posted above. It had SEVEN steps by the Duke player before a dribble…

  21. Greywolf 02/24/2009 at 6:03 PM #

    It’s not just the ACC. Corciani against Georgetown in the NCAAs. Adrian Dantly jumping into Walton? to end UCLS’s 80+ game win streak.

    I’m sorry I read this excellent thread. I am so pissed off I have lost my appetite. And my wife wants to know what she did to deserve my being so snippy with her. This one is going to cost my sorry ass.

  22. Mike 02/24/2009 at 6:04 PM #

    As I read the headline and the article, I also thought of the moving screen. Since some of you beat me to it, obviously I am not alone. McCauley is the master of moving into the screen, and drifting with it. My point is we get away with it too, but it is ruining the game.

    Call traveling, palming, hand checking, moving screens, over the back. Rules are made to be enforced, and modified if needed, but as long as they are rules, you must call them. If everyone fouls out, they will learn not to do whatever got them the fouls.

  23. Wait_Til_This_Year 02/24/2009 at 6:24 PM #

    One thing that sort of bugs me about the traveling rules is that they specify the jump stop as landing on one foot, lifting it and then simultaneously landing on both feet. Really, though, it’s just about impossible to land on both feet at EXACTLY at the same time. So once you stretch that rule a little, there’s three steps, no problem. If you really wanted to get picky, you could say that no one can really pivot without sliding their foot a little, like you’re seeing in some of the steps in these “moonwalks.” I’m not saying that the videos above aren’t traveling, but I can see how the stretching of the rules could lead to this.

    Also, the physical play is part of this too, as mentioned above. If they started calling the fouls and travels a little more tightly, then yes it would make for a few boring games, but maybe we would have better games in general in the end.

    I’m all for not letting people get by with cheating, but I don’t really see the spin moves and crossovers as cheating. You can do that stuff without really breaking the rules.

    By the way, I’ve had one or two questions about what’s a travel and what’s not from time to time, so here are the rules. Hope your computer’s faster than mine:

    NCAA’s Official Basketball Rules (pdf)

  24. Wait_Til_This_Year 02/24/2009 at 6:30 PM #

    Oh yeah one more thing:

    You know what DOES get you a traveling call? Looking clumsy. You don’t have to actually travel, but if you look like you second-guessed yourself, they call it. I especially see this one when the PG picks up the dribble on the run, starts to pass, but then holds the ball. A lot of times they lean forward too far, stretching their pivot leg, but they don’t move the foot, and still get called.

    If you look smooth doing it, though, you can take 3 steps, minimum.

  25. #44 17 24 02/24/2009 at 6:57 PM #

    I don’t know if someone has already linked this, but here’s another example of the blatant disregard of traveling on hansbro through the last 4 years.

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