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Georgetown Gets Another Gift

Admittedly, this photo isn't fair. (John McDonnell - TWP)

I still think Georgetown is the best local team, and I still think the Hoyas will go far in March (or, this year, April), and I still think they have a real knack for pulling out close games and would probably have won last night in overtime, but c'mon. It's not a foul with five minutes gone by in the first half, and it's dang sure not a foul 70 feet from the basket with less than a second left. Lots of people this morning are saying "if it's a foul it's a foul, no matter how much time is left," which I can live with on a drive to the basket that draws moderate contact, but not on a blocking "displacement" call at the other end with less than a second left.

I just don't see the point in making that call. It's like saying "a bad shot is a bad shot;" I can live with Brendan Haywood chucking 15 footers a lot more in the first quarter than with 10 seconds left and the game on the line in the fourth. Not sure why things should be any different for the refs. All of this is judgment, and judgments can change based on circumstances, in the same way an NFL ref might decide not to call a mild pass interference on a 70-yard hail mary with no time left in a two-point game..

Here are the names for the video on the YouTubes this AM: "Robbed in DC," "Georgetown wins another controversial game," "Worst Call Ever!!!" "Horrible Call," "Phantom Foul," and so on. One selection is below.

And here are what the scribes are saying.

* David Aldridge says it was the right call, and that "nobody messed up."

* King Kaufman says it "was the kind of foul that just doesn't get called at any point in a game, never mind at :00.1, a minor brush by defender Corey Stokes on Jonathan Wallace as he dribbled upcourt hoping to get close enough for a desperation shot that he wasn't going to have time to take."

* The AP calls it a "favorable call."

* Soft Pretzel Logic says "perhaps a less than palatable game all around deserved just such an ending. This thing was really hard to stomach at times."

* Let's Go Nova calls it "perhaps the most questionable call by a referee I have ever seen in any sporting event."

* People on an officiating forum mostly seem to like the call, while even some Hoyas fans are sympathetic to 'Nova.

* Barker Davis, surprise surprise, blames the defender and endorses the call, writing that Stokes "hip-checked Georgetown's Jon Wallace 80 feet from the basket with the score tied and 0.1 seconds remaining last night, sending one of the most reliable free throw shooters in program history to the line for two chances to win the game."

* And The Hoya doesn't mention the word "foul" until sentence number 9.

By Dan Steinberg  |  February 12, 2008; 10:24 AM ET
Categories:  College Basketball  
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It was definitely a bump, but at that juncture in the game, it shouldn't have been a foul.

Send it to OT and let Pikachu work his magic.

Posted by: | February 12, 2008 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Yeah - shoulda been a non-call. But the defender shoulda known the situation too...

Posted by: Rob Iola | February 12, 2008 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Had to be called: it was a force-out, the ref has to either call a foul or an out-of-bounds. The timing is unfortunate, but that's not the ref's fault.

Posted by: doclinkin | February 12, 2008 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Normally should be a no call, sure, but after the refs gifted 'Nova and kept them in it for the entire second half, especially the final 7:30, their should be no complaints saying that they blew it in Georgetown's favor.

Posted by: bubbrubbhoya | February 12, 2008 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Anyone watching the game can't be surprised it was a call under these officials - I've never seen so many non-fouls called throughout a game.

Posted by: anon | February 12, 2008 12:35 PM | Report abuse

So you were fine with the first 47 fouls called in the game but the last, well that was just too much even for you....

Posted by: athea | February 12, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

It wasn't a blocking foul, contact forced Wallace out. As the refs on that bulletin board say, "there was clear displacement." You can't just let people play basketball out of bounds, no matter how much time is left on the clock. I doubt the ref would have blown the whistle without the foot on the line, but he had no choice.

Timing (not to mention distance from the basket) should never be a factor in fouls, that opens the game up to a lot of biased interpretation. The ref can't know exactly how many tenths of a second are left on the clock. The ones who should take the clock into account are the players. Why did that Nova player put any contact on Wallace dribbling down the court when it was obvious he wasn't going to get a shot off?

Posted by: danj | February 12, 2008 12:55 PM | Report abuse

This is why American deserves a rematch with Georgetown!

Posted by: KC in DC | February 12, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

So the implication is that the refs are in bed with Gtown? That I don't get.

If it's that the refs screwed it up, the refs screw up things all the time, all game, in every game, in every sport. It should probably have been a non-call, but it's not like JTIII was standing in the refs ear like Coach K screaming for it.

Anyone who watched the game knew (and the announcers even talked about) that the refs were letting fouls slide and then calling minor ticky-tack things. It was kind of a poorly officiated game all-around.

But I still don't understand how that "robs" Villanova or anything.

Posted by: OD | February 12, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

I am a hoyas fan but that was an atrocious call! Donato should be suspended, fined or fired. Last 10 seconds it has be an egregious foul and then it's still 50-50 if you get the call. I look at the replay and still doesn't even look like Wallace was touched. Incredibly bad day for that ref.

Posted by: Stick | February 12, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

the players on the court decide the game, not the officials.

home cookin? bet!

Posted by: caphcky | February 12, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

It was not home cooking, the refs were calling stupid "fouls" like that all game for both sides. It was a horrible call that was consistent with the horrible officiating that was going on throughout that rock-fight. Why Steinberg does not seem to understand that this foul was not more a gift than at least 6 of Villanova's last 8 points, I don't understand.

Posted by: Chris | February 12, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Agent Steinz -- You're completely wrong on this one. A foul is a foul, period. The definition of a foul doesn't change based on the time on the clock or the location on the court.

Your example of being more willing to accept Haywood chucking 15 footers in the first quarter than the 4th is similarly wrong. A shot in the first quarter counts just as much a shot in the fourth.

Posted by: TSW | February 12, 2008 2:09 PM | Report abuse

The "let the players on the court decide the game not the officials" is another stupid argument. The players DID decide it. The Villanova player bumped a Georgetown player out of bounds while there was still time on the clock. The Georgetown player hit the free throws. The ref merely enforced the rules. The ref isn't deciding the game at all.

The logical result of "let the players on the court decide the game not the officials" would be to get rid of refs altogether. Let the players "decide." There's a word this kind of an idea. That word is "stupid."

Posted by: TSW | February 12, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Gotta go with DanJ on this one: The ref was watching the play, not the clock. He saw a guy bump a guy out of bounds and made the call. If there were 4 seconds left and the whistle was for Wallace's foot out of bounds and no foul, Georgetown fans would be rightfully furious.

Timing was unfortunate, but I'm glad the ref kept his eye on the play and only his ear on the horn.

Posted by: Matt Brown | February 12, 2008 3:05 PM | Report abuse

home cookin? bet!
Posted by: caphcky

um . . . I'm pretty sure the refs aren't hired by Gtown or Verizon, so I'm still confused as to how this is anything but the ref's fault. By implication, everyone seems to be saying that Gtown had a hand in making sure this happened to somehow protect themselves.

I'm pretty sure the real powers here -- ESPN and the Big East -- would both have loved an OT Gtown-Villanova game.

I'm just not sniffing the conspiracy. And if there's no conspiracy, every athlete knows you have to deal with bad reffing all the time. The key here is not to let it get to the point where your victory or loss is "determined" by a ref. Put the game away early and Villanova has no complaint here.

Posted by: OD | February 12, 2008 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Can someone tell me why you people keep saying he bumped him out of bounds? His foot NEVER went out of bounds so stop with that stupid argument. Look at the replay on ESPN when they zoom in on his foot. It is clearly inbounds.

Posted by: Don | February 12, 2008 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Whether his foot went out or not, the basic point still stands -- the defender bumped him enough to knock him off balance. Wallace's path was impeded by the defender making physical contact. That's a foul. It was obviously extremely unlikely Wallace could have made a shot from that far. It was unlikely he'd even get off a shot before time expired. But it was still a foul.

Posted by: TSW | February 12, 2008 4:52 PM | Report abuse

I watched the game with both GU and 'Nova fans, and at times, both groups objected to some of the fouls called (and with reason). The point is that the Villanova player should have known the game was being called closely and stayed away from any contact at all, especially 70 feet from the basket. Villanova deserved to lose for being stupid.

Posted by: NJ2Bras | February 13, 2008 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Funny how nobody seems to notice Scottie Reynolds committing an offensive push off during the first 1.5 seconds of his drive to the basket (something he does on nearly every drive, btw). The fact that Rivers was able to stay with the play and then get a clean block after being forced off the ball is a testament to the great defense Georgetown played all night.

Posted by: drjimcooper | February 13, 2008 11:17 AM | Report abuse

The refs were calling similar displacement calls all night long. Had they not been calling them, the game would not have been tied at that junction.

Posted by: consistency! | February 13, 2008 9:48 PM | Report abuse

There was a call on nearly every Villanova possession in the last six minutes and about half of the Georgetown possessions. Villanova stayed competitive from the line in that period. So why should the last possession, regardless of time, be any different Dan? This wasn't a rough game devoid of calls where two teams battled it out below. It was a drawn-out double bonus ending that ended on, surprise surprise, two shots in double bonus.

Posted by: jmc | February 14, 2008 4:30 PM | Report abuse

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