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Some San Antonio Loose Ends

Tremendous games here last night, a sports fan's dream and a sportswriter's nightmare. Brutal deadlines. Apologies to anyone who read my stories in today's birdcage liner and found they only approached coherency. They also lacked a few details, so here are some things you didn't read in today's paper.

-There was some controversey about the clock at the end of the game, which I'd say turned out be both overblow and meaningless, for reasons explained in a minute. First, what happened was Texas A&M was inbounding after the game-winning free throws by Antonio Anderson, and there was a horriffic inbounds pass that sailed toward half court and the left sideline, where only one Memphis player, Robert Dozier, stood with no Aggies around him. Keeping with the general them of incompetence, Dozier batted the ball out of bounds for no real reason, kind of like a cat playing with a yarn ball. More incompetence: Though Dozier hit the ball, no time came off the clock. Still 3.1 showing.

So now the refs -- and, apparently, Bill Raftery, according to the NCAA suit at the podium after the game -- took a few minutes using the monitor and a stopwatch to figure out how much time came off the clock. When they reset it to 2.0 seconds, the arena groaned in surprise.

But here's why overblown: because I think the refs made the right call, an opinion swayed by John Calipari's swindling sell after the game. He said he was right in front of the play (he was) and watched Dozier hit the ball, which bounced once barely inbounds then bounded into the stands. As Coach Gecko fervently explained, the ball is live until it hits something, so it's possible that the ball went jumping out of bounds for 1.1 seconds before it hit something. Gotta trust the guys with the monitor and stopwatch, I suppose.

And here's why it was meaningless: There seems to be pretty much no difference between inbounding the ball from full court with 3.1 seconds and 2.0 from halfcourt. The Aggies lost the game because they couldn't get a rebound in four chances and The (Still) Great Acie Law IV missed a lay-up. I think the Aggies jinxed him by passing out reporter's notebooks with a picture of Acie Law on the cover and the words "Mr. Clutch." How's that working out for them?

-After the late game, Greg Oden never emerged in the locker room while the media groundlings were allowed in. Instead, he spent the time in the trainer's room, getting stitches on the bottom of his chin. He busted it open when he and Ivan Harris fell over each other going for a rebound and slammed his face on the court. The trainer, Vince O'Brien, said there was absoultely no way he would miss the regional final on Saturday. So now big deal, except there were no Oden quotes in today's stories about his rough night: four fouls, 18 minutes, nine points, three rebounds.

Also: Oden is not used to cuts on his face, because, as he claimed Wednesday, he has never shaved. Not once When he started growing facial hair -- sadly, he can't remember when that was -- he just told his barber to trim his beard when he got hair cuts. Someone challenged him, and he held firm. His mother, Zoe, also hated that beard he wore earlier this season and told him to shave it, repeatedly.

-Ohio State needs to play better on Saturday if it wants to go to the Final Four. If they dilly-dally around again, like they did against Tennessee and Xavier, they're in trouble. Memphis has completely sold me. To see them in person, wow, those dudes are like specimens. And fast. They don't really know how to play basketball as well as some other teams, but they're offense allows for a lot of freedom and they can make plays. Great job in a big spot by Chris Douglas-Roberts, who limped around all night and still played 37 minutes and scoring 15 points.

Also, great job in a big spot by me last night, capping the night. Polished off about (redacted) Shiner Bocks, a chicken quesedilla and four wings in the Rivercenter Mariott lobby bar afterward with some fellow Counts of Consumption. That's an oft-used synonym for sportswriters, by the way.

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 23, 2007; 1:55 PM ET
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Next: Joey Dorsey Wants Him Some Greg Oden



Thanks for the explanation. Of course, it would have been nice had the referees said something like that to the TV guys, the PA announcer, ANYONE, explaining their decision. And does it also mean that if John Calipari hadn't caught the ball, even more time would have come off the clock, possibly leading to it expiring? (From my recollection, he catches the ball before it lands. But check the replays to make sure.)

Posted by: TG | March 23, 2007 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Completely disagree about the significance of the call. The A&M kid pulled up from 30-35 feet on that last shot because he ran out of time. If he has a second longer that shot comes from 8 feet closer. Makes a big difference. I think its safe to assume most college basketball players don't have Gilbert like range.

I guess that rule on some level makes sense, but it sure resulted in a bizarre outcome to this game. A critical call in the game depended not on anything going on on the court, but that there just happened to be no coach, spectator, equipment, or broadcaster in the way to touch the ball until it had traveled for 1.1 seconds out of bounds. It just seems to me that the games should be decided by things on the court not the random arrangement of objects off the court. I came remember anything like this ever happening before though, so probably not that big of a deal going forward.

Posted by: Mike | March 23, 2007 3:14 PM | Report abuse

You are wrong. It was Memphis who could not get rebounds at the end, but finally got fouled, leadig to their go-ahead FTs. The officials completely blew the call with the clock. No more than .5 could have expired, more likely less. It appeared to me that they put the real-time stopwatch on a slowed-down replay. Aggies could have had a shot from closer in. One more example of sorry officiating at all levels.

Posted by: Bad Call | March 23, 2007 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Bad Call - what a moronic thing to say about the refs. To put a stopwatch next to the slow-mo replay? C'mon, you're having a laugh. Great call by the refs.

Posted by: dc | March 23, 2007 4:49 PM | Report abuse

The problem with the explanation for the 1.2 second deduction is that the clock is supposed to stop when the ref blows the whistle. If you watch and listen to the replay, the ref blew the whistle well before the ball landed. As everyone noticed at the time, the time between when the Memphis guy touched the ball and the ref blew the whistle was about .2 seconds.

Posted by: whistle blew | March 23, 2007 5:13 PM | Report abuse

The problem with the game wasn't the clock issue. It was that Acie Law was bumped and had an arm around his hip on his missed layup (props to Memphis for disguising it well) that was a no call and then the refs have the gall to call a ticky tack foul on the other end with 3.1 to play? That is the travesty of the game.

Posted by: Nikolas | March 23, 2007 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Adam, love that you're trying to do a good job for the blog, but please please please, enough with the typos. You're still writing for a major news source, even if it's a blog, right? And it's really painful to read. Sorry.

Posted by: spellingB | March 24, 2007 12:33 AM | Report abuse

As an unbiased Calfornian, I have to say Texas A&M got a raw deal there. After A&M missed those 2 free throws at the end of the game, the officials seemed to do everything in their power to change the outcome. First the non foul which was called a "foul" with 3.1 to play (Memphis made the free throws which won the game) and then the clock snafu at the end where they erroneously took the clock down to 2.0 seconds instead of leaving it at 2.9.

0.9 second is A LOT of time when you are moving the ball up the court. Just ask Tyus Edney, who drove the length of the court in 4.8 seconds to preserve eventual champion UCLA's 1995 title hopes in the 2nd round against Missouri. Could have he done it with 3.9 seconds left? Probably not.

That off balanced 30-35 footer at the end of this game would have been more like a 20-25 footer with a reasonable chance of going in.

I bet A&M would have hung in a lot better against Ohio State than Memphis did. Now we will never know.

Posted by: The Iceman | March 25, 2007 11:08 AM | Report abuse

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