Head of ACC Officials Confirms UNC is a “team that doesn’t foul much”

Lack of Fouls Key for UNC

“Historically, even looking back to when Dean Smith coached, UNC has just been a team that doesn’t foul that much,’’ said John Clougherty, the

That is a statement from the head of the ACC officials not some UNC PR firm. Can someone explain to me how 4 coaches over 53 years are all able to teach hundreds of players how to “not foul”?

In order to try to understand this a little better I looked at the stats.
UNC is called for the 8th fewest fouls in the nation. That means 337 schools are called for more fouls per game than UNC.

So maybe they play passively and thus can avoid foul trouble. Nope, they are ranked number 8 in the country for blocks per game and they are ranked number 3 in the nation for offensive rebounds per game. So in the two most aggressive categories in basketball they rank 8 and 3 but never commit fouls. How is this possible?

Clougherty also said that his officials study teams’ and players’ tendencies, so they know what to look for when it comes to fouls. And that they don’t favor anybody

So the refs come into a game with the preconceived notion that UNC does not commit fouls. UNC does not commit fouls because UNC is known not to commit fouls. That is how it is possible. It is a self fulfilling prophecy.

What kind of impact does this bias have on a team that plays UNC?
UNC has played 24 games. In those games they have shot an average of 24.75 free throws per game (leading the nation) and their opponents have shot 13.29 free throws per game. That means at UNC’s 65.4% free throw rate, teams will start the game with a 7 and a 1/2 point deficit.

They have had only one player all year who was disqualified because of fouls. So while other teams need players to step up when foul trouble hits. UNC just plays the same players because they never have to deal with foul trouble.

“I’m screaming all the time ‘Pressure, pressure. Don’t foul, don’t foul. Don’t reach, slide your feet, slide your feet. It’s the third most thing I’m yelling,’’ Williams said. “… You really have a better chance of getting what you want if you emphasize it the most.”

I should have known. It is just great coaching that allows UNC to avoid fouling, because if you make it your third most emphasized point, it will happen.

About Rick

1992 and 2002 graduate from NCSU. Born and raised an NCSU fan. I remember the good ol' days and they weren't in the last 20 years.

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56 Responses to Head of ACC Officials Confirms UNC is a “team that doesn’t foul much”

  1. newt 02/10/2012 at 5:04 PM #

    One day other coaches will figure out this genius move of playing without fouling.

    The most likely explanation for UNC’s foul numbers is that refs are biased – That doesn’t mean “intentionally favoring” or that they even root for UNC. Bias is most likely caused by the perception that UNC is a class act. Good job by UNC perpetuating that myth, even without blinking during the UNC football investigation. Bias can even be caused in part by the calming effect of benign light blue.

    Check the foul numbers of Kansas under Roy and see if they are similar to those his teams have had at UNC. Similar talent, same coach, probably lesser competition. If coaching is the explanation, the numbers should be as good or better at Kansas. I recall doing this research and finding not surprisingly that Kansas’ numbers were more in line. And Big 12 fans complained that Kansas got the calls too, but I don’t think it’s anything like UNC.

  2. tdouble 02/10/2012 at 5:10 PM #

    Typically the more talented teams, especially ones that have a size and talent advantage at every single position on the court 1-5 don’t have to foul as much. It’s not that hard to understand.

  3. packpowerfan 02/10/2012 at 5:27 PM #

    And Al Capone was a guy who “didn’t commit crimes much”. That is why it took him so long to be caught…right.

  4. tractor57 02/10/2012 at 5:33 PM #

    Foul less – please. So an ACC official can say this with a straight face? Called for fewer fouls no doubt. Foul less – bovine scatology.

  5. newt 02/10/2012 at 5:35 PM #

    If this works, the chart on the bottom right shows that UNC was called for far fewer fouls each season than Kansas, before and after Roy moving from Kansas to UNC. So Matt Daugherty must have handed off some knowledge to Roy on his way out the door…


  6. wolfie91 02/10/2012 at 5:47 PM #

    Something wrong with the link? It tries to take me to some type of admin function.

  7. Rick 02/10/2012 at 6:08 PM #

    I fixed the link. Thanks for the heads up.

  8. runwiththepack 02/10/2012 at 6:12 PM #

    Ahhhhhh… NOW i understand! After all these years of seeing what seemed like a double standard, it’s all clear that i just simply didn’t understand how wonderfully perfect the Tar Pits are.

    Thanks, Clougherty! Thanks for clearing that up for us. You just continue to fix your eyes on the cow college ball players in the league. There’s nothing to see if you look for fault in the Baby Blue. So, why even look?

    A mystery solved.

  9. Wufpacker 02/10/2012 at 6:32 PM #

    I freaking told ya so!!!

    Woody Durham

  10. 8pack 02/10/2012 at 6:37 PM #

    I’m John Swofford, and I approved this message.

  11. runwiththepack 02/10/2012 at 6:38 PM #

    Somebody more brave than I must run out on the court and yank their trousers down – just to find out whether they’re wearing official UNC boxers.

  12. WeAreCured 02/10/2012 at 6:40 PM #

    There’s really nothing an opposing team can do about the inferred bias to the Cheats, but as for State, Roy has some genuinely solid advice:

    “I get really ticked off, because fouling a lot of times is really lazy — ‘Well, I didn’t get position, so I’ll just reach in,’” Williams said. “It’s stupid. And what we do a lot is say, ‘Let’s use our brain a lot.’”

    Hear that, Richard and Woo? Use your brains. If you’re not in position, don’t commit a lazy, stupid fouls to try to make up for it.

    While there’s nothing State can do about the lack of calls against the Cheats when playing them, they can certainly limit the fouls called on themselves by being in position, not being lazy, and using their brains.

  13. blpack 02/10/2012 at 6:47 PM #

    It is clearly referee favoritism. Been going on as long as I can remember.

  14. Packstrength90 02/10/2012 at 6:55 PM #

    It’s pretty telling that the refs are actually commenting on this period. It would be interesting to see how the fowl ratio works out in the NCAA or other neutral, non-ACC venues.

  15. Jediwolf 02/10/2012 at 7:28 PM #

    If this is the case every ref in the ACC should be fired and a whole new set brought in. What an embarrassment to the whole league. The coaches should raise hell.

  16. mhamer 02/10/2012 at 7:58 PM #

    Sort of brings a tear to your eye doesn’t it to actually hear the head of ACC Officials make such a comment and no doubt he did it in a very weak moment. For those of us who have followed the basketball fortunes of the ACC it has been known for at least 45 years that the guys in baby blue do not commit fouls WHEN it would prove detrimental to them. Their fouls usually crop up in situations when no damage to the outcome of the game will likely occur. Lots of late game fouls, lots of fouls late in the first half when the other team is not on the line and both to even up as much as possible the end of game stats but the one really important stat that can’t be pushed under the carpet is the number of foul shots taken..They win that one nearly all the time and will continue to do so until the other schools in the ACC collectively tell the commissioners office that they are no longer going to sit idly by and let it continue.

  17. StandUpAndHowl 02/10/2012 at 8:18 PM #

    That article makes me sick to my stomach. UNC is entitled to getting the breaks, that’s what he’s really saying.

  18. ilmwolfpackfan 02/10/2012 at 8:44 PM #

    So this explains “Tyler’s Will”.

  19. SaccoV 02/10/2012 at 8:49 PM #

    Nice use of pretzel logic … it must be a graduate level seminar at UNC.

  20. oceanman 02/10/2012 at 8:59 PM #

    I went to a State Carolina game in Chapel Hill many years ago. I was waiting with friends at the gate to enter the building when an old Chevy pulled up plastered with UNC-CH stickers of every description. Guess who jumped out of the car, one of the refs. I was astounded that a ref would allow himself to be seen coming to work in car decorated like that. It proved to me that bias exist and they don’t care who knows it. Those who say that the refs are not biased have not been watching ACC basketball for the last 30 years. Those who have know that the bias exist. The statement by the conference refs proves it. There is no doubt now, like there ever was. It high time that the schools in the ACC put a stop to operation of the conference for the sole benefit if UNC and Duke. New unbiased leadership is long overdue.

  21. Wolf74 02/10/2012 at 9:03 PM #

    No surprize here. I had been watching ACC basketball since 1967 and UNC-CHeats has always gotten the calls. That is why I only watch ACC basketball when NCSU plays. That is why I wanted NCSU to pull out of the ACC when South Carolina did. I would welcome going to the SEC just to get away from those cheats.

    Nothing will change until the conference is broken up or Swofford is fired and a new conference administration comes in and cleans house and forces an unbiased attitude down the throats of these officials. It happens in football also. I think it was the 1979 NCSU vs CHeats game where the CHeats players caught a couple of balls out of bounds and recovered a fumble which was actually an incomplete pass. The next day the N&O ran a picture of the refs all wearing dark glasses and the front ref leading the others out of the stadium by tapping a stick in front of them.

  22. AirWolf 02/10/2012 at 9:27 PM #

    And as seen over the years, once UNC gets into the NCAA tournament they run out of ACC refs. The result is usually a loss that sends them home, faces planted in their crying towels, tears streaming down the cheeks of the cheerleaders ruining the eye shadow(the girls, too), and the standard company line about (sorry, lying, cheating….pick one) officiating spewing from an irate and haughty head coach. The Carolina Way: To Seem, Rather Than To Be. Hell, Tyler Hansbro was called for traveling in the NCAA tournament. I don’t think it ever got called in the ACC.

  23. NOT A FAN OF BLUE 02/10/2012 at 9:41 PM #


  24. ryebread 02/10/2012 at 9:56 PM #

    What’s even more damning is the per possession fouling numbers. UNC is only that high because of so many possessions. If they played at the pace of Virginia, they’d be that much lower.

    Look at those other teams in the 5 lowest fouls — Wisconsin, UVA, Mississippi St. and Cincy. Cincy plays thug ball, so the fact that they don’t get fouled much is pretty darn shocking to me.

    That aside, the other four teams have adjusted tempos of:
    Wisconsin: 345th in the nation
    Virginia: 339th in the nation
    Cincinnati: 232nd in the nation
    Miss State: 162nd in the nation

    What about UNC? They’re fifth for adjusted tempo. That means they generate the 5th most possessions in the nation, yet foul the least.

    Let’s look at some other teams in the top 10 in the nation in adjusted tempo and then see how much they foul.
    UNC: 5th in adjusted tempo, #1 least FT attempts by opponents
    UMass: 1rst in adjusted tempo, 302nd in FT attempts by opponents
    BYU: 9th in adjusted tempo, 225th in FT attempts by opponents
    Depaul: 10th in adjusted tempo, 270th in FT attempts by opponents

    So, let me get this straight. Three other comparable teams (two of which have at least 18 wins).

  25. BureauOfMines 02/10/2012 at 10:11 PM #

    “Clougherty also said that his officials study teams’ and players’ tendencies, so they know what to look for when it comes to fouls. And that they don’t favor anybody.”

    As Rick points out, Clougherty’s 2nd sentence contradicts the first.

    Yep, UNC is too big to fail.

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