There is a lot to take away from the Huskies’ 1-point defeat to the Wildcats down in Arizona yesterday. First and foremost, I believe it shows the Huskies are clearly superior to the first place team in the conference, regardless of overall record. Just look at point differential: we beat them by 17 at home, they barely squeaked by yesterday. Put us on a neutral court and I think we take ’em down.
Secondly, there’s still the disturbing trend of us having no one to take the big shot at crunch time when we need a basket with the game on the line. I’ll hereby direct you to what was essentially our final possession before all hell broke loose: Matthew Bryan-Amaning gets the ball in the post with around 20 seconds left in the game, down 1, with a chance to win it. Immediately before he was called for travelling (more on that in a bit), instead of making one of his patented spin moves towards the basket, he opted to kick it out to another man. Why? MBA simply DOMINATED that second half; they couldn’t stop him down low! He’s our senior big man, our only low post threat: why didn’t he choose to put his shoulders down and force the issue for himself and his team? If the called play was for him to get the ball and immediately kick it out to IT for a shot, then I’ll gladly retract my statement (though, I’ll have to ask: why wasn’t the plan all along to go to him down low regardless?).
Primarily, though, this game showed how the Pac-10 refs are perhaps the worst in all of Division I college basketball.
Their decisions to call fouls were arbitrary at best. MBA was getting absolutely SLAUGHTERED on some of his shots down low; no fouls called. Derrick Williams, however, got every little nudge called his way in the closing minutes. Before those closing minutes, the refs showed a penchant for letting the players play; why the sudden reversal? And why weren’t they called evenly? It certainly wasn’t because of an over-abundance of 3-pointers jacked; we showed amazing restraint in holding our long-range attempts to 16 (if not our season-low, surely ONE of the lowest per-game totals).
Also, where was the goaltending call on Kyryl Natyazhko? The ball was clearly resting on top of the rim when he tipped it in? That’s offensive goaltending, and either way you slice it, this proves the Pac-10 referees’ incompetence. If they didn’t see it, that’s absurd; what the hell were they looking at? All of the action on that sequence was around the rim! And if they DID see it but didn’t call it, then they’re fucking corrupt and deserve suspensions all around. You can’t let something as insignificant as an Arizona White Out dictate how you’re going to call a basketball game down the stretch!
Most galling was the OTHER bit of goaltending they either failed to see or were too chickenshit to call. Last play, inbound to Gant who got his shot up only to have it knocked out of bounds by Derrick Williams as the ball was clearly on its way down. I’ve seen other shots – not nearly as obvious in their downward arc – get whistled against us before; why not now? An illegal defensive play is an illegal defensive play, no matter what arena you’re in and no matter what amount of time is left on the clock. To ignore something so crucial because Arizona was the home team, or because it was Derrick Williams making the infraction, or because it was a final shot and you’ve suddenly once again arbitrarily allowed the players to play … it’s just unconcionable. Those refs should be ashamed of their “effort” and flogged accordingly.
And to those who would argue: no one would EVER make that call, in that situation, I find that ridiculous. The argument being: when the final seconds are ticking off of a close game, the refs are reluctant to “decide the game”. Well, what about that MBA travelling call with 20 seconds on the clock? A replay was never shown, so I have no conclusive evidence of whether they were accurate or not; but right there: they decided the game with a questionable call that could’ve gone either way and likely wouldn’t have been called if he made the same motion early in the first half.
It’s too bad, because the Huskies showed a ton of poise in that game. They started off a little sloppy, played a little lazy at times, but they had the wherewithal to clamp down on defense and come back from a 12-point deficit. That entire second half – minus the final minute or so – was a thing of beauty from the Dawgs and if they manage to play like that come Tournament time, I think we’re as good as anybody.
Not to criticize my maligned team too much, after the refs thoroughly screwed us, but I do have a couple points of contention. I’m sorry, but Aziz canNOT be guarding another team’s best big man unless he’s exclusively a back-to-the-basket player. Derrick Williams was making him look like a tree in the woods as he went around him for layup after layup. Aziz: MOVE YOUR FEET! Even though he was knocking them down, I was sitting there yelling at my TV, “Let him shoot the jumper!” Every time, Aziz just stood there and let his man make him look the fool.
Also, IT, you made some miraculous passes in the paint for some huge assists (the one to MBA in particular, where he couldn’t even see MBA around the giant doofus between them, was the sickest thing I’ve seen all year), but WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED ON THAT BREAK-AWAY LAYUP? You practically tried to walk the last third of the court as defenders were trailing your ass; go hard to the hole!
But, whatever. Those wasted opportunities were completely overshadowed by the Pac-10 officiating (once again). Will there ever be a time where the Pac-10 refs don’t totally steal the limelight from the players with their destructive behavior? Will they ever man up and STOP letting the home crowd dictate how they call a game?
Answer: a resounding NO.