All Along Ed's Hightower: Crime Scene Kansas Edition.

Rubie sez: this possibly-recurring feature touches on the pettest of my peeves: the near-nightly display of gross incompetence that is college basketball officiating.  If you need a primer on my feelings about officials, you can read this or this.  If you'd like the Cliffs Notes version: I hate officials -- in particular, the incomparably awful Devil's Threesome of Tim Higgins, Jim Burr, and Ed Hightower. When I feel like it, I'm going to use this space to highlight particularly egregious calls.  Why?  Because the first step in remedying a problem is identifying the problem and making fun of it relentlessly. 

*     *     *     *     *

Is there a worse way to lose a game than on a blown call by an official?  I say no, and in support of my argument, I present to you Doug Sirmons: Dream Slayer.  The scene: last night, late in the second half, UCLA hits a three to tie Kansas at Phog Allen, and Kansas rushes the ball up court to attempt a final shot ...

You probably know what happened from there, but in case you don't: Kansas hit the first throw, intentionally missed the second, and Ben Howland lost it:

"[T]hat was a really, really a poor way to end the game on a call. Just for anybody that hasn’t seen it. It’s a loose ball, both 23, Little and Malcolm Lee are putting their hand on the ball at the same time, with 0.9 seconds left.

"Normally you wouldn’t make that kind of call at that point in the game unless it was very obvious. And from what I saw, it’s very disappointing to end the game on that note.’’

Now, you can debate whether officials should swallow their whistles in the closing moments of the game; I don't much care if you're in the "a foul is a foul, forever and always" camp or the "let the players decide the game in the last minute" camp.  In this case, that debate doesn't matter, because there wasn't any foul to call there.  What I see is two kids going for the ball, getting to the ball at the same time, and one kid flailing away in a blatant attempt to bait the ref into a game-deciding call. 

As you can see in the video, Doug Sirmons -- the official in question -- actually got himself in position to witness the critical action, which is an impressive feat in and of itself, since most of these stumblebums are so pathetically out of shape that they struggle to make it up court by the end of the game.  That said, what's worse?  Failing to get yourself in position to make the call and then blowing it, or getting yourself in the correct position but whiffing on the call nonetheless?

The NCAA, predictably, has come to Doug Sirmons' defense this morning, and let's channel FJM to break down the response:

"The refs reacted properly,’’ said John Adams, the head of the NCAA’s officiating on Friday. Adams added that Sirmons was an experienced official who worked an NCAA regional last season.

If the statement that he's "an experienced official" means (as I believe it does) that "Doug Sirmons is one of the schmucks who works four or five games in seven days throughout the season," then I'm more concerned than I was before.  More games = more tired-er = more prone to heinous lapses in judgment.

And, just in case you were wondering, the other officials who worked NCAA regional finals last year included: Jim Burr, Ted Valentine, John Cahill, and Pete Driscoll.  That's not exactly heady company there.

"The only argument you can make is whether or not it was a foul. It’s a foul.

Uh ...

The Kansas kid has control of the ball.

Nope.

It’s incredibly unfortunate to end the game like that.

If it's the right call, why is it an "unfortunate" ending to the game?  Lawyered, bitches.

But I’ve looked at the tape this morning and Doug called the foul like he’s supposed to.’’

Adams said officials can’t consider how much time is left when making a call.

"It’s dangerous to read into every play in the game to see time, score and circumstances,’’ Adams said. "We do not ask [officials] to play God. If you do that, then you’re asking them to play God."

Just in case that was too hard to follow, let me summarize: the NCAA does not ask its officials to play God, because if it asked them to play God, then it would be asking them to play God.**

** I don't know about you, but almost every time I've heard the idiom "play God" used, it's been in reference to deciding whether someone lives or dies.  Did I miss the memo? Are we going Roman gladiator-style "loser dies" for the duration of the season?  If so, somebody photoshop me a picture of Tim Higgins in a toga giving the thumbs-down signal!

ANYWAY, let's update the BONEROMETER for the year:

Doug Sirmons: 1

The field: 0

We must be always vigilant.  Until next time.

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