Look, the Confidential has been critical of Syracuse and Jim Boeheim this season. See here. But, after Syracuse’s 72-65 win over North Carolina Asheville, the media uproar over calls down the stretch suggests that the media has trouble being intellectually honest when dealing with issues related to Syracuse.
There is no doubt that there were some calls down the stretch in that game that were “controversial.” However, being “controversial” does not make them inaccurate. CBS.com itemizes the so called “controversial” calls. The two calls that have the interwebs panties-bunched are a lane violation call and an out-of bounds call.
As it relates to the lane violation, CBS states as follows:
First, there was a lane-violation call on J.P. Primm that negated a missed free throw by Scoop Jardine, leading to two points from at the charity stripe.
According to the rule, it was indeed a lane violation, although it could have gone uncalled without much notice.
Could have gone uncalled without much notice? So could a holding call in football. That does not make it fair or right. In any event, it would appear that CBS’s position is that the referees should not have enforced a clear lane violation rule. The logic is apparently that none of the guys paid by CBS to call the game understood the rule. Or the logic is that few players are dumb enough to commit the violation. CBS does not explain why two different players for North Carolina Ashville violating a rule should go unpunished. CBS should just be embarrassed that nobody on its television team knew the rule.
ESPN knows the rule. The referees know the rule. Official Ed Corbett had this to say: “It was a clear (lane) violation. The player released early, before the ball hit the rim. We’ve since watched the replay 20 times and it was the right call.” The criticism of the referees on this issue is simply wrong. Suggesting that Syracuse as the beneficiary of a bad call is also wrong. If North Carolina Asheville does not want to follow the rules, that is their choice.
To be sure, the out-of-bounds call was impossible to understand. What was impossible to understand is why a foul was not called on North Carolina Asheville. While the ball went out of bounds off of Syracuse’s Brandon Triche, he was knocked to the ground after being hit in the midsection by a defender. Not contact–knocked to the ground like a wide receiver being tackled by a defensive back. There is no gray area here. If Triche had just launched a three-pointer, he would be shooting free throws. So, while the call was incorrect, the result was absolutely correct to the extent that North Carolina Asheville did not get the ball. What they were deprived of is Syracuse’s best free throw shooter getting two shots from the charity stripe.
In fact, the only thing that CBS did get right is that the referees missed a goaltending call. That did deprive North Carolina Asheville of a bucket. But CBS just ignored the referees’ mishandling of the end of the first-half. With two seconds on the shot clock, Triche caught a rebound. With one second left, Triche was fouled while going up for a shot–before the clock read zero, the referee had made the call. Instant replay suggested that the ball had not left Triche’s hand before the basket was scored. So it was certainly appropriate for the basket to have been negated. But what happened to the foul? Triche–again, Syracuse’s best free throw shooter–should have had free throws. Plus, a North Carolina Asheville player avoided a foul call. In the end, both teams caught a break and that is just how games can go.
For the media to try to weaken this Syracuse win is indefensible. It is also inexplicable because Syracuse played awful. There are plenty of talking points as to why it seems unlikely that Syracuse will even see next week. A few calls did not cause North Carolina Asheville to lose. North Carolina Asheville did. That may not mean that Syracuse deserved to win, but it does not mean that Syracuse did not deserve its win. As Syracuse legendary coach Jim Boeheim accurately noted–the scoreboard tells the story. It’s time for the media to move on to a real story.