Posted by Jeff Borzello
In the wake of Wednesday’s controversial finish to St. John’s vs. Rutgers, the three referees responsible for the non-calls have voluntarily withdrawn from the Big East tournament, the conference announced on Thursday.
With 1.7 seconds remaining in yesterday’s game, St. John’s forward Justin Brownlee picked up a loose ball, took three steps without dribbling and also went out of bounds before rifling the ball into the crowd. No violations were called.
Jim Burr, Tim Higgins and Earl Walton – the three officials – were the subject of much discussion for their failure to blow the whistle.
John Adams, the NCAA’s national coordinator of men’s basketball officiating, expressed his displeasure to Andy Katz of ESPN.com.
“Not officiating to the end of a game is unacceptable,” Adams said.
Focusing on the final two seconds of the game doesn’t even begin to look at the judgment calls from the previous eight seconds, when there were no-calls on a drive by Rutgers guard Mike Coburn, an over-the-back by St. John’s and a potential foul at mid-court when the Scarlet Knights’ Gil Biruta lost the ball.
Even if those calls were questionable, they were judgment calls nonetheless. If the referees didn’t think there was a foul on any of the three plays, that’s their opinion.
What isn’t a judgment call is a player picking up a loose ball and running with it before stepping out of bounds and throwing it into the stands with the clock still running.
Burr, Higgins and Walton didn’t deserve to referee another Big East tournament game this season, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if we didn’t see them in the NCAA tournament.
Missing a foul call or swallowing the whistle on a bang-bang play is fine. But a trio of referees can’t simply stop officiating.
That’s exactly what the three referees did at the end of St.. John’s vs. Rutgers. And it’s unacceptable.
The Big East begins its quarterfinal round on Thursday.
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