Blog Entry

Dear Gary (on Duke and referees)

Posted on: November 17, 2008 1:16 pm

Here's Monday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: How do I know college basketball is starting? College football is winding down, there is a crisp chill in the air in Chicago and Duke was handed another game by the officials. Honest question: When, if ever, will this stop? Duke should have lost the game against Rhode Island if it wasn’t for the way the game was officiated. Not only is it the disparity in free throws, but the phantom calls that always seem to go Duke's way (and in some instances the officials make sure time actually stands still for Duke, but I digress). That call Kyle Singler got late was BS. Let the players decide the game.

-- Pat

I realize this is the consensus opinion, that Duke "gets all the calls."

But I've never bought into the theory.

Obviously, Duke goes to the free throw line a lot; I won't deny that. But the Blue Devils spend a lot of time attacking the basket, and when you attack the basket you get fouled. As for the Singler play, I'm assuming you're talking about the drive and spin into the lane with 19.4 seconds remaining. In the spirit of full disclosure, I was in a hotel room in Gainesville that didn't have ESPNU, so I was watching the game on my computer, which means the picture wasn't great. So perhaps there's a replay that shows Singler clearly didn't get fouled. If so, send it to me. But what I saw was Singler drive, get into the paint, make a motion for a runner or layup and then his arms stopped in mid-air while the ball flew out of bounds.

From my experience, that's usually a sign that there was a foul.

When the ball keeps going that typically means the arm or hand was hit.

When the ball stops or goes down that typically means the ball was hit.

So from my vantage point, it looked like a foul. And just so you know, free throw disparity is about the worst way to try to figure out whether the refs favored one team or another. Style of play usually dictates free throws, not favoritism. And I would just make this final point: Pretty much every Duke game is on national television, and do you know what officials hate more than Duke losing? They hate looking stupid. And if they favored Duke they would look stupid because there's no hiding, which is my way of saying I do not believe a conspiracy exists.

As for that clock incident a few years ago, I have no explanation.

That was horrible.

I won't defend it.

But the rest of the stuff, I think, is mostly a perception rooted in nothing.

Category: NCAAB

Since: Apr 1, 2007
Posted on: November 18, 2008 1:05 pm

Dear Gary (on Duke and referees)

So Duke gets all the calls and Travelboro gets no love.  Face it, the best teams and players get the calls.  It is just human nature for the refs.  Get over it and enjoy that extra step when Travelboro goes to the hoop, runs into someone standing still, and converts the 3 point play at the line.

Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: November 18, 2008 2:35 am

Dear Gary (on Duke and referees)

Honestly, I don't buy that Duke gets all the calls. I think what Parrish said is more plausible. I think the reason for the perception is that so many people hate Duke.

Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: November 17, 2008 6:20 pm

Dear Gary (on Duke and referees)

Parrish's argument that Duke goes to the free throw line much more than their opponents is because " they spend a lot of time attacking the basket and when you attack the basket you get fouled" is total BS.

The reason every other team in college basketball that has a lopsided advantage in free throw attempts over their opponents is because they have a superior inside game. Duke has absolutely NO inside game and hasn't even pretended to have one since the departure of Sheldon Williams.

Although Singler has been forced to play inside by default, it is normal to think he will go to the foul line 8 times (as he did yesterday), as it would be for Zoubek to go to the line a few times. However, it is ludicrous that Scheyer goes to the free throw line 13 times. Naturally, he went 13 for 13.

Judging from the replay I saw and the body language of at least three Rhode Island players, the block on Singler's drive looked clean (although inconclusive), but just about any college basketball fan is going to accept the fact that Duke is going to get that call at Cameron 100 out of 100 times.

In response to Parrish's assertion that officials hate looking stupid, which is what would happen if they made obvious calls favoring Duke, officials also hate getting blacklisted. It's no secret that Coach K is a very intimidating figure and there has long been a widespread belief among ACC fans and veteran observers that officials feel they can advance their careers by giving Duke the benefit of the doubt on marginal calls.

I don't think it is a coincidence that concerns about this perception have resulted in John Claugherty's decision to replace most of the longime members of the conference officials roster since he became ACC Supervisor of Officials after the 2005 season.

Way too many veteran ACC columnists and observers have written about this topic over too many years for it to be only a mindless myth.     
Just the fact that you are writing about this subject on a national forum clearly indicates that the issue has never gone away as a topic of heated discussion among college basketball fans from all over the country..


Since: Jan 10, 2008
Posted on: November 17, 2008 5:58 pm

Dear Gary (on Duke and referees)

I wasn't a believer until last year, when Stephen Curry was called for four offensive fouls (3 in the first half) against Duke. For someone who hardly ever drives the lane, it seemed a bit much. Then, the next day, photos such as this one came out:

davidson/photo/last-365-days/8-21 Makes me wonder if this form isn't real...




Since: Nov 17, 2008
Posted on: November 17, 2008 3:58 pm

Dear Gary (on Duke and referees)

i totally agree with tarheel boy. it happens every year they get the calls always. the flops, phantom fouls, and the free throw advantage plays abig role in why they win the close games just for once i would like to see duke not get bailed out by the referees. the foul that put singler at the line with 20 seconds was another phantom call that gave the dukie babies another slim victory. is this why outside there gym say during the tounrney they always seem to choke.

Since: Jan 28, 2008
Posted on: November 17, 2008 1:32 pm

Dear Gary (on Duke and referees)

I appreciate your analysis, Gary, but I think you missed the point here. I don't think anyone would contest that the play with 19.4 seconds remaining was a foul. The issue is that 11 of Duke's final 13 points came from the free-throw line, many on much more questionable "fouls" than the one you analyzed. But that's not too bad. That's just a sign that the officials might be calling the game very tightly, which is a judgment call on the refs' part. But if they call those fouls, they must call them for both sides. Which brings us to Baron's final shot, just after Singler's free throws. He drove the lane, and let loose a jumper that fell short. Look at the replay. There is clear hand-to-hand contact. Baron's arms stopped. The ball didn't. Just like what happened to Singler. But the refs didn't call it, and Duke won the game. Please analyze the game in this light. By your own judgment of what is and what is not a foul, I think you have to admit that there was poor, if not biased, officiating going on yesterday.

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