Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Perfect Storm, Narrowly Averted

Had this shot by Gordon Hayward gone down, it would have been the greatest shot in March Madness history.

Move over Lorenzo Charles. Slide down Christian Laettner. Sorry, Keith Smart.

This would have trumped them all.

In part, because of two other factors - aside from the half-court Cinderella miracle it would have been on it's own.

Factor 1: Duke's decision to intentionally miss the second FT.
Factor 2: The horrible non-call on a blatant and vicious moving screen.

First things first.

Hayward is a helluva player. Even though Singler did a great job to shut him down for most of the night, he's a quick, instinctive, silky-long two-way threat who is only going to get better.

The first game winner with 6 seconds to go was an amazing look, that was dead on-line. A driving, jab-step-and-stop fade away over a lunging 7-footer in Zubek.

That one, SHOULD have been Hayward's one-way-ticket to immortal Bobby Plumpdom.

The half-court bank-job that almost went, was nearly Coach K's biggest blunder since letting Trajon Langdon dribble the ball off his foot with the title on the line against UConn. While there are theoretical merits to making Butler collect an intentional miss, and then advance it to halfcourt for a last ditch shot, what you give up is too extreme.

Coach K willingly forfeited what I call "Dagger Insurance."

Had the dagger sunk, it would have been a grave companion like loss for K and the Dukies.

Now, let's talk about the screen. What a horrible no-call. Just because an entire season, an entire tournament, is about to expire, doesn't abdicate the refs from calling correct calls.

That play looked like a KICK RETURN in football. I said to myself: "Holy, shit! Who just got de-cleated!"

Howard was moving forward, flared his arms, and did not give the screen-ee the requisite space to avoid contact.



Which, gets me to a larger point. I hate it when refs "let 'em play."

This is not pick up ball. We pay the refs for a reason. When there are fouls, they should be called. Once you establish early on, that, YES, we will be calling fouls tonite, players adjust and the game takes on a totally different tempo.

When the refs "let 'em play" then it becomes ugly trench warfare.

Like, say, 61-59.


Hayward was for some reason getting the Jordan treatment when it comes to fouls. I counted at least four times he should have been called for an easy whistle.

He banged Lance Thomas on a point blank layup from behind, no call.
He double fisted shoved Zoubek under the basket for a rebound. No call.
He side body slammed Thomas to jar loose easy rebound. No call. (Kellogg comments: Might have been a foul there.)
He got juked into the air on Thomas jumper, lands on him, should be an easy call. No foul.

Afterward, Nantz and Kellogg, flush with the moment, declared this one of the greatest Finals games ever.


Better than Kansas and Memphis last year? Better than Hakeem Warrick blocking a game-winning three for Syracuse?

Look, I know and respect that both Butler and Duke play great defense. But when one team shoots 34% and the other 44% - and SUPRISE! - nobody fouls out of the game, what does that tell you?

That it's alot easier to play "great defense" when you are raking arms on threes that don't get called, and banging bodies on lay-ins that get ignored.

To me, there's no way in a title game somebody shouldn't get fouled out. At least one.

But hey, Butler is going to be sick next year. They return everybody, and are no doubt thirsty to finally close the deal.

If they are back in the Final Four next April, then no, they will NOT be a Cinderella.


Are the officials now reviewing everything on tape? It's a joke. Anybody can "ref" a game watching replays. It is out of hand, and needs to be reeled in.

If the game looked funny to you on TV, there was a reason. Because in dome settings the camera positions are set so far back from the sidelines off the court, the long focal length of the shot tends to squish objects closer together in the 3rd dimension, or Z axis. Thus, whenever players would cut into traffic, make entry passes into the paint, or otherwise operate in a crowd, it looked like "holy crap, there's NO ROOM TO OPERATE!" CBS did a decent job of mixing in overhead wire-cam shots, and 3/4 shots, which did a better job of showing spacing. I would have preferred to watch the entire game that way, but I'm guessing I'm in the minority.

The superiority of a "down the line" camera angle, however, is indisputable in my mind. Think about it.

In tennis, where is the camera? Behind one endline.
In baseball where, is the camera? Behind center field.
In golf, where is the camera. Behind the golfer, looking at the hole.

In hockey football and basketball the networks obsessively stick to the side-view camera angle.

I often wonder why. Seeing each of these sports from a "down the line" perspective, is much better. It allows you to see the spacing of the game, and the patterns of movement that dictate who gets open, and why. The sideview, offers a largely worthless perspective.

I remember reading articles 20 years ago that said we would someday be able to choose our own camera angles from the couch.

Hmmm. I guess that's on hold. Instead, we get shows like "Minute to Win It."


  1. "I remember reading articles 20 years ago that said we would someday be able to choose our own camera angles from the couch."

    You're not the only one. Where is this TV bliss that we've been promised? HDTV took over a decade to get from the labs in japan to a commercially viable product stateside, has "choose your own adventure" television also gotten lost in the decade+ of red tape?

    The world may never know.

  2. Great point on the camera angle Czabe. You have to look only at video games to validate your point. If you've ever played Madden using the sideline cam, you know how frustrating it is.

  3. Czabe -- I'm not sure I agree about the camera angle argument. I don't mind the down the line, but the look that was low-and-in-the corner was maddening to watch.

    Also, Kansas-Memphis was two years ago. Last year was UNC's sweet annihilation of Michigan State.

  4. Czabe, I'm with you. I wish they'd shown the whole game with the wire cam.
    And wtf was Duke thinking missing that 2nd ft? Make the ft then foul them before the shot goes up. That gives Duke no chance to lose. It's a scenario I'm sure they've practiced many times.

  5. I attended to the 2001 Final 4 in Minneapolis. Everyone in the stands knew the fix was in for Duke. Not only did my Terps get screwed, but Jason Williams had 4 fouls in the final against Arizona, and the refs just would not blow the whistle for a 5th foul. Williams and Duke got away with murder in that game. Duke will always get the key calls in big games. Always. That's why everyone hates them so much.

  6. Czabe, living in Indy, I saw a totally different game than you did. I felt Duke was getting all the calls, especially the charging call on Hayward that was clearly a block on Scheyer. Hayward should have had a three-point play. Also, the offensive goal tending tip in by Scheyer that was not waved off. There is a five point swing right there. Also, the best part of the game, for me, was the "de-cleater" put on Singler. Great game. I look forward to watching Butler again next year.

  7. Officiating in all sports is bad. In Basketball, foul calls are arbitrary. The strike zone in baseball is arbitrary. In football, holding and pass interference are arbitrary.

    Boxing in the only sport I can think of where officiating doesn't have a huge effect on the outcome.

  8. Another huge miss called was the obvious intentional foul on Hayward with 3mis remaining..should have been free throw and the ball...total screwed

  9. How about the no-call on Zoubek when he one armed the Butler player to the ground while trying to grab a rebound. That was an obvious foul that should have put Butler on the line for two and put Duke down by one with 35 seconds left.

  10. I don't mind the side view at all. The problem was the amount of viewing area from that side view. When a player was dribbling at the top of the key, the basket and backboard (and thus whatever was going on under those two items) were out of the shot. Terrible! If it is truly because of dome games, then that sucks and I hope they never play at a dome again. Horrible. Get a wider-angle lense....

  11. "If they are back in the Final Four next April, then no, they will NOT be a Cinderella."

    They weren't a Cinderella this year either. Anyone who claims otherwise only proves himself to be a fool in regards to the topic of college basketball.

  12. Czabe here. A few days later, I do admit that Duke got their share of calls. apologies to Butler. Great team, great run.

  13. Same story every year from any bball fan who hates Duke: "Duke gets all the calls." The Scheyer charge should have been called a blocking foul, yes. What about all the other calls (most of which Czabe has already pointed out) Duke didn't receive in the paint? It goes both ways. Missed calls on both ends. The naysayers always make the same excuse. It got old 10 years ago...

  14. i can't wait for the day coach k's deal with the devil ends