I hope that after this entry we will be turning the page to bubble talk and hopefully NC State’s impending bid to the 2012 NCAA Basketball Tournament.
Before we do, I wanted to quickly consolidate some of the national and local media reviewing & discussing yesterday’s debacle in Atlanta so that we can go back to it in the future.
First, the following links are to some message board conversations:
* Of course, it all starts with the gross disrespect from Brian Dorsey that SFN reported yesterday in this entry.
* Brian Dorsey (Link)
* This thread discusses the awful mistake it was for the ACC officials to publicly show the appearance of impartiality by their boneheaded decision to pay homage to Karl Hess’ absence by taking ‘KH’ on their shoes.
Compared to everything else on the internet, the following video is the closest thing to what I would have put together if I had the talent (and time) because this video doesn’t focus on just the most obvious (and discussed) calls/no-calls on Leslie and Kendall Marshall…but it also tries to set up some of the other inconsistencies of the ’50/50′ block/charge that set the tone throughout the game.
Here is another one that focuses exclusively on the two ‘big calls’ that have garnered the most attention. It is in this one where the positioning of Brian Dorsey and his obvious eagerness to call Leslie for a charge becomes most obvious as there is NO WAY he can see through Leslie 15 feet away to see if the UNC player was set.
You know something is up when the News & Observer allows Caulton Tudor to write that ‘Inconsistent Officiating Hobbles Wolfpack’. Tudor is a master and maybe the best ACC writer at leading more educated readers to conclusions without having to say ‘too much’. Note how he specifically calls out Brian Dorsey’s inconsistency.
It was an important day for North Carolina, but it was more important for N.C. State and unfortunately, the first ACC Tournament semifinal game Saturday in Philips Arena got skewed by officiating.
That has to be a part of the record, simply because the fourth and fifth foul calls on Wolfpack forward C.J. Leslie were as pivotal in the outcome – Tar Heels 69, State 67 – as the jumpers, follows, fouls and turnovers.
When official Brian Dorsey irrationally read an offensive foul into a Leslie spin move with eight minutes, 35 seconds left, the game changed some. It then changed radically 32 seconds later when Dorsey whistled a fifth foul on Leslie, sending the standout sophomore to the bench with 22 points and seven rebounds in 29 minutes of playing time.
Had Leslie been allowed to play on, there’s a good chance State (22-12) would be playing in today’s championship game.
But it’s also a fact that State coach Mark Gottfried said miscommunication among coaches on the Pack bench resulted in him not being advised that Leslie had four fouls.
“I would have taken him out, if only for a minute or two, so that’s our responsibility,” Gottfried said.
In defense of the Pack coaches, Leslie could have not have been taken out of the game unless a timeout had been called instantly after his fourth foul. There wasn’t a clock stoppage between fouls four and five.
Since Leslie’s fourth foul didn’t result in a free-throw situation, Gottfried either would have had to call a timeout immediately, yell at the ref that a sub was on the way or would have had to have a sub at the table before the whistle. Had it been a defensive foul on Leslie, there would have been a second or two for more reaction time by State’s bench.
The overarching point on Dorsey’s calls has to go to consistency – the one aspect of officiating that coaches say they value most.
That fourth foul call on Leslie (offensive move) wasn’t interpreted the same way later when UNC’s Marshall hit the winning shot after a collision that left Alex Johnson on the floor.
Officials make mistakes and that’s fine. But if you’re an official charged with calling a State-Carolina game in the ACC Tournament, you at least need to be consistent.
And it wasn’t like the opponent was Boston College or even Florida State for that matter. The Pack went at Carolina with the sort of effort that Jim Valvano would have applauded on what would have been his 66th birthday.
In the long run what we saw Saturday was a landmark afternoon in the State-Carolina series despite the officiating. After two easy Tar Heel wins in regular season, the Pack showed the sort of commitment that once made the rivalry among the best in the nation.
The two old enemies made the game memorable. For the first time in a long time, we can say that State is moving in UNC’s direction.
The Charlotte Observer has a slide show this morning called ‘calls and no calls’ that focuses only on CJ Leslie’s 3rd foul and the Kendall Marshall play at the end of the game. You read that correctly, the Charlotte Observer.
ESPN’s Eamonn Brennan joined Yahoo’s Dan Wiederer and many other national basketball bloggers lambasting the officiating in real time on Twitter. This link to Yahoo’s college basketball blog will represent some of the national media
If North Carolina State misses the NCAA tournament for the sixth straight season Sunday, the Wolfpack may remember a disputed non-call in Saturday’s ACC semifinal against North Carolina as the play that cost them a bid.
With the score tied at 67 apiece and 10 seconds to go, North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall appeared to lower his shoulder into Alex Johnson in an attempt to create space, knocking the NC State defender to the ground. Referees didn’t whistle a foul, so Marshall sank a wide-open bank shot in the paint, providing the final margin in the Tar Heels’ 69-67 victory.
That NC State coach Mark Gottfried and his team were so incensed about the non-call was a product of the implications of the game. Not only could the Wolfpack have advanced to the ACC title game and snapped a 12-game game losing streak to their hated rivals, they also could have essentially locked up an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
Because of the loss, however, North Carolina State (22-12, 9-7) will have an angst-ridden 24-hour wait until Sunday’s selection show.
An ACC quarterfinal win over Virginia and a regular season sweep of fellow bubble hopeful Miami may yet earn NC State an at-large bid, but the Wolfpack’s tournament resume is hardly unassailable. Their lone non-league win of note came over youthful Texas in November and they went 0-for-5 against the ACC’s power trio, North Carolina, Duke and Florida State.
Having a key call go against North Carolina State will surely inspire conspiracy theorists to note the public tiff between the school and the ACC over referee Karl Hess ejecting Wolfpack legends Chris Corchiani and Tom Gugliotta from a February game. Gottfried slammed both Hess and the league afterward, calling the ejections “weak” and “completely out of line 100 percent.”
“I’m disappointed quite frankly in the ACC because not only did he throw out two of North Carolina State’s greats, he threw out two of the ACC’s greats,” Gottfried said at a pep rally. “The league is supporting an official rather than supporting former great players. The former great players, in my opinion, were embarrassed and wronged when they shouldn’t have been.”
Tempting as it may be for NC State to put all the blame for Saturday’s loss on the call that went in favor of the Tar Heels, the reality is the Wolfpack made costly mistakes down the stretch that contributed to the loss.
C.J. Leslie, NC State’s leading scorer, fouled out with eight minutes to go in the game after getting two quick fouls in less than a minute. The Wolfpack stayed in it behind the play of Lorenzo Brown down the stretch, but costly turnovers by Johnson and Scott Wood on their last two possessions contributed to the loss.
Now that we’ve done national and regional media….let’s let a local media member have a say. (Link)
Journalistic integrity aside, sometimes you just have to call it as you see it. And, boy did we see it today.
Let’s be clear, things sometimes look different on television than they do in person. I’ve been very fortunate throughout the ACC Tournament to have a front row seat, on the court. I appreciate it, and truly try to enjoy every moment. This seat allows me a very up close view of the game in progress, and often times the same angle as the official along the baseline.
Sitting beside other media members, it also allows me the opportunity to compare thoughts on the game. Sometimes, I’ll make a comment and a fellow media member will tell me that I am flat out wrong. But, today we were all in agreement. NC State got jobbed.
The ACC is not going to admit it, the officials are not going to admit, and most media members won’t write it, but I will.
Now, I’m not going to say that the entire game was swayed toward North Carolina. I also understand that the Wolfpack put themselves in the position to lose the game, and if they had done things differently, they could have walked away with a win.
But, there were certainly spurts during the game that the officiating looked one sided, in the Tar Heels favor. Again, keep in mind that I’m a Tar Heel fan. Not a bandwagon jumper, a lifelong Tar Heel fan.
A couple of examples come to mind along press row. The first is during the 2nd half when NC State’s Lorenzo Brown was dribbling down the right side, Kendall Marshal came flying in from the left block to right block. The whistle blew, and to everyone’s surprise, the call went against Brown.
Later in the second half, similar plays by opposing teams resulted in opposing calls. As the Tar Heels drove the ball into the lane from the right side, a jumble of players occurred, UNC missed the shot and a
Wolfie was called for the foul. No, problem. But, on the very next play, the Wolfies dribbled into the paint from the left side, a jumble ensued and despite the body, and arm bashing, no call was made. It was obvious that things simply weren’t going to go NC State’s way.
Certainly, these are just two instances, and they don’t make a game either way. But without going through the game play by play, I can only offer an opinion of the game. And my opinion is that NC State got screwed.
A fellow broadcaster from Asheville, NC and admitted State fan said “I’m tired of playing 8 on 5. Any time you play North Carolina or Duke, the calls go the other way.”
When NC State Coach Mark Gottfried, was asked to comment on the officiating, he simply said “I can’t, they’ll fine me.” When he was asked if it was safe to say that official Brian Dorsey wouldn’t be receiving a Christmas card from the Gottfried family this year, Gottfried replied, sternly and glaringly, “I’m not answering that.”
During the press conference, a fellow media member noticed my excitement about the Tar Heel win, and asked if it bothered me that the Tar Heels won it that way. My answer to him was “No, that’s just the way it is. The Tar Heels get the call. Sometimes you are on the short end of the stick in life, and sometimes you are not.” The Tar Heels always seem to get the calls and that’s just the way it is.
So, let me say to the Wolfpack faithful, courtside it seemed obvious to me that your team got the short end of the stick. I don’t know if you would have won the game or not had it been any other way. But, I do know that you have a valid case. Make it, welcome in your highly ranked recruiting class next year and come back and give it another shot. But, remember this, you’re going to have to play even harder than the Tar Heels if you are going to win, because life just isn’t fair sometimes. You know it, and the Tar Heel nation knows it too.