By Ryan Lack
Referees make mistakes? WHAT!? Even … don’t say it … mistakes that cost good teams great wins? No. Way. I never would have thought!
Remarkably, the broken record is still spinning on NCAA Men’s Basketball courts and football fields nationwide. We see it often. A great game plays out in front of us, often on national television, some controversial calls are made – some right, some wrong – and sometimes they’re flat out stupid.
This happened to Iowa State’s men’s basketball team recently when they took on #6 Kansas, a perennial favorite when they play most teams, especially Big 12 teams, but most certainly a favorite on this night. Iowa State competeted – hard – against a team they had no business keeping up with. And when it came down to the wire, the game’s momentum or whatever you want to call it was affected by the blatant ineptitude of the referees.
The officials did not call either a block or a charge when Jayhawks guard Elijah Johnson collided with Iowa State’s Georges Niang, who appeared to have his feet set, with five seconds remaining in regulation.
Instead, Niang was whistled for a holding foul after Johnson’s shot missed and the ball came loose on the floor. Johnson went to the free-throw line and made the two free throws, forcing overtime and helping Kansas rally for a 108-96 victory in Ames.
There’s no excuse for it really, but the Big 12 wants to make it up to Iowa State. No really, they do. How, you might be asking, will they make it up to them? No, not by overturning a win that for all intents and purposes was Iowa State’s to take home, but by “acknowledging errors were made.”
“The Big 12 Conference acknowledges that officiating errors were made at the end of regulation during last night’s Kansas at Iowa State men’s basketball game,” the conference said in a statement released Tuesday. “The plays have been reviewed and appropriate measures will be taken by the Coordinator of Men’s Basketball Officials to adjust the number of future assignments for the two officials involved in conjunction with Conference policies.”
If I’m Iowa State I’m PISSED. That’s a marquee win and potential last four in or out deal-breaker for them as they are most definitely a bubble team with a 19-9 season record and a 9-6 conference record.
Let’s be real. Change needs to happen. They’ve instituted some replay options, which is great and all, but what I’d like to see is either:
1. Coaches get one challenge and one only. You lose it, the other team shoots two free throws.
2. A referee up in the booth that reviews and can overrule bad calls in the waning minutes of a game.
Sure this adds more process to an already complicated process that we don’t want to slow down further, but getting it right is more important, especially when it’s David vs. Goliath.