I posted on Twitter Marshall Henderson’s quote about his last shot of the season after we got back from the locker room following Ole Miss’ 76-74 loss to La Salle in the NCAA third round.
I posted it because it had some amount of intrigue, not because I thought Ole Miss got jobbed by officiating in the game. You don’t have space to explain that in 140 characters, so you just go with it. It generated a response from former Texas coach Tom Penders, by the way. He went on to question the Rebels’ defensive philosophy of sitting back in a zone for La Salle’s last shot. Personally, I’m not sure a man would have been better given the way the Rebels were having trouble guarding La Salle off the bounce.
Back to Henderson and the official. After Henderson rebounded his own miss with less than a minute left he missed a follow-up attempt in the lane. There was contact on the play, and Henderson said he was fouled. He says he told the referee he was fouled, and the official’s response was, according to Henderson was, “He did, he did, but I’m not calling a foul with 1 second left on the shot clock.”
I’m not one to slam officiating when a team loses. There are too many other plays to be made offensively or defensively to change the course of a game. That was certainly the case for Ole Miss against La Salle. However, calls made in the final minute are magnified for obvious reasons.
I did find the official’s response — if true — to be questionable. It seems to put too much power in the hands of game officials.
Basketball officiating is often discussed as a “style” as is an umpire’s strike zone. Pitchers have to adjust, coaches say. Basketball players have to adjust to a physical style of officiating or one in which referees are calling a game “tight.”
Players are accustomed to this.
It seems, however, that an official would choose his style and go with it regardless of time on the clock. I know there are other examples of this. The last play by the 49ers in the Super Bowl had some contact around the goalline, and part of the dialogue to follow was whether the official was “going to make that call at that time.”
This official’s response, if true, was to the time on the shot clock, not the game clock.
I’d be interested to hear more thoughts on this, especially from any high school officials or others with experience who might be passing through.