Double Fouls and Held Balls

So what fun would college sports be if there wasn’t a bit of officiating controversy?  And why should the Final Four be any different?  But in this case, despite downplaying the screw job handed to them in the closing moments of their semi-finals loss to Louisville, it seems to us that Wichita State has a legitimate gripe.

First, an inexplicable double foul call keeps the Scary Wheat off the free throw line

After Louisville’s Smith missed a three-pointer with 3:55 remaining, there was a pinball-style scramble for the rebound that featured multiple players falling to the ground. It appeared Baker, who ended up with the rebound, got dragged to the ground by Louisville’s Stephan Van Treese.

As teams went into the huddle for the television timeout, the Shockers – trailing 60-58 at the time – were expecting Baker to shoot free throws. In fact, as officials went to look at the monitor, it appeared there was a chance Van Treese might get hit with a flagrant-1 foul, which would have been two free throws and the ball.

“I thought the initial call was on (Louisville),” Wichita State associate head coach Chris Jans said.

Instead, officials called a double foul on both Van Treese and Baker, who had made some contact with Van Treese while going for the ball. That was a fateful moment because possession after a double-foul is determined by the jump ball arrow, which was going in Wichita State’s direction. Obviously, the Shockers could have used it later.

“I was going for the ball, trying to get the loose ball and I thought he bear-hugged me and threw me to the ground,” Baker said. “But apparently I must have hit him first.”


And of course, that set the stage for your favorite zebra and mine…The Hessian himself…to stick the final dagger into the hearts of Scary Wheat fans everywhere.

First, let’s review the rule, shall we?

Section 37. Held Ball

Art. 1. A held ball occurs when an opponent places his or her hand(s):

a. So firmly on the ball that control cannot be obtained without undue roughness; or

b. On the ball to prevent an airborne player from throwing the ball or attempting a try and both players return to the playing court with both hands on the ball or (men) the airborne player returns to the playing court never losing control of the ball.

That leaves some very subjective judgement to the officials when such situations arise, granted.  But remember that officials allegedly want the players to decide the outcomes and thus often swallow their whistles down the stretch even for calls that would be rather obvious during the rest of the game (we can argue the merits of that approach if we wish, but that’s not the point here…the point is they do it regularly and don’t mind saying so).

So with 8.8 seconds to go and the Shockers down 71-68, Louisville misses a free throw and Wichita State’s Ron Baker comes down with the rebound.  Off balance and feet shuffling, he’s forced to put the ball on the floor to regain control.  That’s when Louisville’s Luke Hancock gets a hand in there and probably at least touches the ball.  From the angle it’s actually very hard to tell if he touched the ball or not, but he probably did.  But it seems apparent that he got a lot of arm too, but again that’s fairly difficult to tell as well due to the angle.

And the angle is the thing here.

NCAA basketball official extraordinaire Karl Hess, never one to shy away from making a call despite not seeing the play in question clearly, never hesitates to make the call from behind the play despite not being able to see ball or the necessary details.  Held ball, the aforementioned possession arrow going Louisville’s way, Ball Game.

Here’s the play…you decide (click for the animation)…



So why then would such a gray area call be jumped upon so quickly by Herr Karl?  A quality official of such obvious high integrity?

We wish we knew.

Ultimately, a lot things happen in the 40 minutes between tip off and final horn.  To point to one thing as the reason a given team wins or loses is not the point here.  But for a crew of officials that was allegedly graded well enough to get a Final Four assignment, this is just a bush league call down the stretch.

And at the very least, it did cost Wichita State their last shot at trying to tie the game and forcing overtime.

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32 Responses to Double Fouls and Held Balls

  1. TheCOWDOG 04/07/2013 at 10:34 AM #

    Yes. Two very inappropriate calls.

    There is no need to question why. It’s in the ego, pure and simple. Hess is a Vegas headliner.

    I’ve said it adnauseum, save the griping for the rotten. This happened to have been rotten.

    How Hess gets rewarded is beyond ny pay grade. You don’t see TV Teddy anywhere in the tourney,and Hess is a brother with a different mother.

  2. JohnGalt78 04/07/2013 at 10:35 AM #

    Was there a walk there anyway?

  3. BJD95 04/07/2013 at 10:35 AM #

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – he must have a vast portfolio of compromising (goat blowing?) Pictures to keep getting plum assignments. It’s unreal just how bad he is.

  4. state73 04/07/2013 at 10:58 AM #

    If Hess is working the game he has to do something to draw attention to himself. He should be a ref in professional wrestling!

  5. SaccoV 04/07/2013 at 11:05 AM #

    Two points:

    1) The jump ball + double-foul combo was the cherry on the sundae for me. It was interesting watching the 2nd half when Scary Wheat went to the FT line for the second time AFTER they earned the double-bonus, I told my brother and father that ‘I doubt they sniff the line again.’ From that point on (roughly 11:00 left in the game), WSU had attempted 23 free throws, I don’t believe they attempted another. The biggest peeve I have with officiating at all levels is inconsistency. How in god’s name did Louisville foul the bejesus out of Wichita State but then (with the exception of the double-foul) Louisville didn’t commit one single foul over the last 11:00 of the ball game. That is even more inexplicable than a publicity-hound ref wanting more camera time.

    2) Les Jones was also on the floor last night (was also on the crew that worked our game at Wake) and refused the call the foul on Thomas that would have given Leslie two free throws. What compromising pictures does that buffoon have?

    Final point, the crew in the second game, although they made some questionable calls, were much more consistent throughout the game. Notice that Syracuse didn’t meet the double-bonus until there was around 10 seconds left in the game. Again, the crew made some errors, but they didn’t decide to watch a free-throw competition and then midway through the 2nd half, decide to ‘let them play.’ Unfortunately, the games were still very good and exciting DESPITE the officials.

  6. elvislives 04/07/2013 at 11:24 AM #

    Doesn’t the name Hancock lend itself to tendencies of ball-holding?

  7. TLeo 04/07/2013 at 12:17 PM #

    How this guy continues to even have a job is just mind boggling.

  8. freshmanin83 04/07/2013 at 12:47 PM #

    04/07/2013 at 10:35 AM #

    Was there a walk there anyway?”

    On the 2nd call.

    I agree with you.

    Seemed like the official had 3 choices call it a jump ball, traveling , a foul, or a 4th, I guess, swallow the whistle.

  9. hpack 04/07/2013 at 12:51 PM #

    Folks, I’ll make the case that the refs tried out the wheat in the elite 8. Look at the near OSU comeback. It had all the familiar earmarks: quick whistles on WSU wile hacking allowed by OSU, OSU players driving, out of control, into WSU defenders, losing control of the ball, then foulls being called on WSU. NCAA/CBS wanted WSU out and Hess et al obliged.

  10. quacko 04/07/2013 at 1:04 PM #

    i could be wrong on this but i’m pretty sure in the first half kingkarl called a blocking foul while both players were mid air. defender jumped straight up, offensive player was jumping toward the basket.

    i cant remember anytime in my life that that type of play has been called a block.

    without digging into the rulebook, is it even possible to block w/ both players in mid air?

  11. osiriswolf 04/07/2013 at 1:10 PM #

    I love a good Karl Hess bashing as much as the next NC State grad (Chris Corchiani was in my American History class) but I just can’t get worked up about the calls last night, especially the double foul. The Van Treese – Baker incident was initiated by Baker who, in an attempt to ward off Van Treese, executed the “off-hand wrap-around” most often seen in attempted box outs. After Baker does this and is going to the floor, he is hit in the face by Van Treese. If only one foul is called in that situation it has to be on Baker who initiated the contact. The held-ball call was iffy but I thought it could have gone either way. It was either a foul on Hancock or a held ball. I thought a call had to be made. I think games should be officiated to the end. It drives me crazy when referees swallow their whistles at the end of games i.e. the Wake and Miami games we lost this year when flagrant clear outs under the boards weren’t called, ostensibly because it was the end of the game and they were “letting the players decide it”. Fouls are fouls, whenever they occur, otherwise just take the refs off the floor for the final two minutes and let sheer physicality decide the game. That at least would be honest.

  12. Pack78 04/07/2013 at 1:16 PM #

    On the ‘double foul’ call, to me at least, the replay showed Baker in control of the ball and, as he sat on the floor, he was whacked from both sides of the head by Van Treese in a flagrant way. Baker even spread his hands in a ‘what the h*!! is this?’ motion. I expected at minimum a foul call on the ‘Ville after the review at the monitor…double foul call was horrible IMO.

  13. tjfoose1 04/07/2013 at 1:21 PM #

    I don’t see where there’s a question.

    In spite of claims to the contrary by that pompous gotta-have-my-highlighter-match-my-tie ass, Hess has proved himself a biased official who lets personality, ego, and personal feelings influence his calls.

    “Influence” is putting it nicely.

  14. howlie 04/07/2013 at 2:12 PM #

    Wasn’t able to see this game. Couldn’t see everything from this clip (including what happened in the air as players were going up for the rebound).

    But based on what I see, I see the Wichita State player who is grabbing the rebound taking four steps before he’s tied up by the Louisville guy. Should have been a traveling call. Sorry, that’s what I see.

  15. Pack1997 04/07/2013 at 3:44 PM #

    I agree with you on the jump ball. whistle was way to early. However I think they were right on with the double foul. When you watch the replay the clearly both impede the other from getting to the ball, with major contact. You either don’t blow the whistle at all or you call double foul.

  16. phillypacker 04/07/2013 at 3:51 PM #

    If somebody could edit it together, I would do half the work in putting together a montage of Karl’s idiotic calls and behaviors then post it on youtube, kind of legacy in video for him.

  17. Adventuroo 04/07/2013 at 4:55 PM #

    I was traveling (if you call being I95 with all of the folks trying to get home last night traveling) and listened to the game, although I was trying to make sure that I did not get run off the road or run somebody off.

    I WONDERED about the officiating crew – just based on the way the radio folks (John Thompson was the color guy on XM) were talking. I commented to my wife that it sounded like Hess was there…

    Here is an article that about sums it up….

    Really mind blowing to think he is considered an “elite” zebra….

    At least we avoided him this year. I guess we will not be able to blackball him next year….

  18. MrPlywood 04/07/2013 at 4:57 PM #

    I thought Louisville was called for a lot of fouls like the one quacko mentions. Good defensive position, hands up, Shocker leans in/jumps in, foul on [edit] Cardinal. Seems like there were more than a few when the Wheat was under the backboard and leaned back into the L’ville defender to get the foul call.

    For the block call, AFAIK, as long as the D has established position, he can jump up and maintain that position – that one particular block should not have been a foul.

    There was another play when a Wheat flew into the lane from the side and crashed into a Cardinal – no call. I think he passed off and the Wheat scored. To balance it out, the “crafty” Hancock “drew” a foul on a three point attempt with a crafty pump fake, but the replay showed he walked before the attempt.

  19. 13OT 04/07/2013 at 6:52 PM #

    If the NCAA truly wanted to clarify the game when it came to charge vs block, simply give the player with the ball a full step before contact. If the ball handler gets a full step and then crashes into a defender who had established position just before that last step, then it’s a charge. But if contact occurs before the offensive player is allowed a full step, then it’s a block. I have a real problem with somebody trying to get in someone’s space, who’s essentially not trying to defend but rather draw a charge, and getting the call. I always thought a player with the ball had to be allowed to come down or it was a block, but apparently not according to these “nanny state” referees nowadays. They’re calling it the way it looks or by how loud the crowd reaction is, which isn’t usually what actually happened.

    As far as jump balls, I think it’s time to quit the alternating possessions at the end of each half, especially the second half, and go to jump balls in the final 2 minutes (or whatever time they consider close enough to the period’s end). I’ve never liked the alternating possession rule, which I think punishes defenses and last night took away at least a chance for WSU to maintain possession when the blown call occurred.

  20. tjfoose1 04/07/2013 at 7:04 PM #

    “I see the Wichita State player who is grabbing the rebound taking four steps before he’s tied up by the Louisville guy. Should have been a traveling call.”

    Did you miss the part where Rob Baker dribbled the ball? He took a few steps after, but gotta have possession for a travel. It was close either way.

  21. howlie 04/07/2013 at 8:23 PM #

    Yes I DID miss the dribbling of the ball–the other Witchita St. player blocked my view, which I could see on second look now that you mention it.

    No way that was a double foul.

  22. choppack1 04/07/2013 at 8:23 PM #

    All sports should take a hard look at officials. However, basketball is the game most dominated by officials because:
    a) The game has so far devolved that there’s a foul on literally every possession so the “officials” dictate how the game is played.
    b) a “foul” is much more punishing in basketball than in almost any sport.

    The fact that Hess – after his obvious sins, is allowed to continue to officiate big-time basketball shows just how morally bankrupt the NCAA and its officials truly are.

  23. partialqualifier 04/07/2013 at 8:43 PM #

    He is so terrible in such crucial times, I wonder if anyone has ever looked into King Karl’s off the court finances. It’s hard to make some of the calls he makes under legitimate circumstances.

    There may have been a walk, but there is NO WAY from his angle, that Hess could have seen a jump ball. NO WAY! So, with 8 secs left in the Final Four, you guess and anticipate. Piss poor…

  24. packalum44 04/07/2013 at 9:15 PM #

    @dandakich thought it was a great call by Hess. You are all just immature whiny little scumbag who are jealous of Hess.

    If King Karl kicks people out of the arena, they deserve it. If the KING calls a foul, they deserve it. King Hess catching me rimming the ballboy when I was at Bowling Green State has nothing to do with my adoration of him.

  25. ringo 04/07/2013 at 9:55 PM #

    WSU got jobbed, no doubt.

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