It still hurts. I’m still mad. Am I an NC State Homer? Yes, and unabashedly so. Did the overall better team win on Saturday? Yes. Did the better team on Saturday win? Emphatically, no. NC State came with a recipe to win that game and for all accounts, we should have won that game. Would’ve, should’ve, could’ve. Chalk this up to another in a long history of NC State Shit.
In my commute in this morning, I was listening to Mark & Mike on 620. And the standard line is this: NC State had two costly turnovers to end the game that set Syracuse up for the win. NC State could have won that game despite the bad call. Is that true? Sure. Unnecessary passes that resulted in turnovers did cause the Wolfpack to lose that game. What isn’t in question is that a bad call was made on the TJ Warren and one that was called a foul on the floor. Regardless of the rule that, on a breakaway run, the defensive player cannot simply foul from behind or else that is the very definition of a flagrant foul. We should’ve had shots plus the ball, or at the very least, an and one opportunity to put us up by at least 3, if not 4 if we convert the free throw.
The line from the radio guys plus sports prognosticators around the local sports world is that Syracuse made plays to win the game and NC State squandered its opportunity. Oh the Pack shouldn’t have had those two late turnovers. Oh the Pack should’ve sunk more free throws during the course of the game. If I’m reading that correctly, unless we have 0 turnovers and a 100% rate on free throw conversions, then we have no room to bitch about officiating. I get that sports radio and sports journalism is about attracting listeners and readers. Do I expect folks who are paid for an opinion to be 100% fair and open? No. Just as I don’t expect to get a fair stance from Rachel Maddow on MSNBC or Sean Hannity on Fox News. What drives listeners on radio / TV and clicks on the Internet is divisiveness. It makes for good radio. It makes for good TV. Otherwise, it would be boring. I get that driving a wedge and salting the wounds of Pack fans makes for good broadcasts (and other teams too, I’m not saying “oh woe is me”).
But that line is so dishonest and so disingenuous. Yes, NC State could have won despite the bad call. But NC State did enough to win that game and we, or any other team, should not be expected to win despite horrid officiating. If that were the case then what makes NCAA basketball any different than “professional” wrestling? The margin for error for a Pack team on the road against the #1 team in the nation is 0. Add a critical late bad call and the odds certainly stack up against you.
Without a horrible call, the likelihood that the Pack travels to Syracuse (the day of, mind you) and takes a win from the #1 team in the country is all but settled. Could we have scored 100 points? Sure we could have. Could we have operated with no turnovers over the course of the game? Sure, I suppose it’s possible. Could we have hit every single free throw? I guess. Did we need to? Hell no. And that’s why I remain salty and angry.
I wouldn’t be penning this article had TJ Warren gotten the appropriate call and we went up 4 points and still produced a series of turnovers that led to an eventual loss. The officiating was still suspect (how we were in the double bonus and they weren’t even in a single bonus to end that game is still beyond me) but I wouldn’t be as mad. Had we been blown out by 20 like I suspected deep down, I would have been mad for a bevy of other reasons but not directed towards Clogherty’s Crew.
This doesn’t help the NCAA. It doesn’t help the ACC. The hierarchy in “official dominated” sports is basketball -> football -> baseball. Basketball, both professional and collegiate, is becoming more difficult to watch based on the subjectiveness of officiating. The list of football teams being robbed of a win is vastly shorter (The Russell Wilson walk off interception comes to mind during the replacement referee period in the NFL). The list of baseball teams being robbed of a win can likely be counted on a single hand or two.
And it seems NC State is making a bit of history with this. That’s why “NC State Shit” is such a popular meme. Go back to the 1989 regional semifinals where a pivotal travel was called on Chris Corchiani is now dubbed “the worst call in NCAA History”. Mind you that the “travel” should’ve been a Chris Corchiani and-one which would have fouled out Alonzo Mourning (fast forward to the 6:00 mark).
I get that hearing NC State fans bitch about officiating is tired. But instead of directing jokes towards salty Pack fans, why isn’t there more of a dialog on the fact that the referee made the wrong call which resulted in a Syracuse win. (Note I’m not saying it prevented a Wolfpack win, but it most certainly and unarguably resulted in the Syracuse win although the Orange may have been able to win with the correct call). That’s what I don’t get from the local media. The line is always “well NC State should’ve have made that second free throw at the 18:42 mark of the first half”.
The wrong call was made. NC State fans will bitch about it and continue to bitch about it. And guess what? We have the full right to do so.