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Take 5: Calling fouls late – it's all the rage

Jay Hart
Yahoo Sports

Calling fouls in the last second of a basketball game – it's the new rage.

The refs in the Butler-Pitt game are trend setters, don't ya know. They were the ones ballsy enough to call not one but two fouls in the final three seconds of Butler's frenetic win over Pitt.

Before these pioneers, refs all over the country swallowed their whistles unless a closing-seconds foul was so egregious it couldn't go unnoticed. Yes, a foul is a foul, no matter how much time is left on the clock, but they didn't want to be the ones deciding an outcome, or so the thinking went.

Ahhh, but now that the refs in the Butler-Pitt game have been praised from coast to coast, the seal has been broken and we can now expect more referees to be so bold, if only to make a name for themselves.

But are they being bold or brazen?

Let's be clear about something first: The foul against Pitt was a foul and it did stop something. A shot. The foul against Butler after the ensuing free throw was also a foul and it, too, stopped something, even if it was a one-in-a-bazillion shot.

So I don't have a problem with the officials in this case.

I do, however, take issue to the refereeing in the closing seconds of the Washington State-Northwestern game on Wednesday night.

To recap for those (read: 99-percent of you) who didn't see what happened: With the game tied with less than five seconds to go, Washington State ran the ball the length of the floor for a game-winning shot. State's Abe Lodwick took a pass near the rim and, with .2 left on the clock and the ball still in his hand near his waist, was bumped by NU's Drew Crawford.

Foul. Two shots.

Here's where my problem with this begins.

NCAA rules stipulate that upon an inbounds play, "a player may not gain possession of the ball and try for a field goal" if there is .3 seconds or less on the clock. The situation in question differs in that it's not an inbounds play that started with .3 or less on the clock.

However, it's worth understanding why the rule is in place – because the rules makers determined it is not physically possible to take a ball and shoot it in .3 seconds or less.

At the .3 mark, Lodwick clearly has the ball near his hip. He's not in the act of shooting. So if the rules stipulate a player cannot catch and shoot a ball with .3 or less on the clock, what is the difference between a player holding the ball on his hip with .3 left on the clock? Isn't it still physically impossible for said player to get off a shot before the buzzer sounds?

If so, then with only .2 left on the clock (which is when Crawford was whistled for the foul), by rule what is a foul committed against a player not in the act of shooting preventing?

Yes, it was a foul, and I don't have a problem with the officials calling it. But in their review of the play on a courtside monitor when they determined there was .2 left on the clock when the foul was committed, shouldn't the referees also determine no shot could have been attempted and, therefore, the foul prevented Lodwick from absolutely nothing?

Yes, I'm talking deep nuance here, but the larger issue is letting the outcome of a game be decided on what can actually happen, and in this case Lodwick could not have gotten off a shot.

Ironically, he missed both free throws and the game went to overtime where Washington State eventually won fair and square.

It's as thus point I should probably disclose that I'm a Northwestern grad.

You still buying my argument?

Cooler Talk: Everybody Loves Jimmer



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Not your Average Joe

Joe Biden's visit to the Yankees clubhouse meant the Toronto Blue Jays couldn't get to work on time.

As you may know, the Secret Service takes some pretty extreme measures when dealing with POTUS and V-POTUS. Bill Clinton once hung up two runways at LAX while he got a haircut aboard Air Force One.

Anyway, because the Secret Service was using the visiting locker room at Steinbrenner Stadium as their entry way for Biden, the Blue Jays were not allowed inside the building. In fact, they were left to sit inside their bus outside the stadium for about 30 minutes. And when they were let in, the Veep was gone. Didn't even get to meet him. Or, in other words, he didn't want to meet them. Ouch.

Aside of the day …

Which brings me to this story… Two February's ago, I went to a dinner where President Obama spoke. Not boasting, just saying. Anyway, the dinner started around 7 p.m., but food wasn't served until around 9:30ish. Why? I was told it was because that pesky Secret Service wouldn't allow the ovens on in the kitchen until POTUS had left the building where, outside, a bunch of dump trucks ringed the hotel as a sort of makeshift barricade.

Color blindness

Deadspin's Luke O'Brien wonders why every Jimmer Fredette story centers around, well, his white-ness:

Via the New York Times, one un-named NBA scout said of Jimmer: "He'll be a guy who is a better Steve Kerr, a better Kyle Korver. A better [Jason] Kapono. Both those guys can't put the ball on the floor."

Wondered O'Brien:

"It's a shame there isn't a more apt comparison out there. You know, a tweener college shooting guard who led the nation in scoring and shot his team deep into the NCAA Tournament all while people questioned his defense, his size, his athleticism, and his pro prospects in general. Someone who created space for himself with an array of crafty feints and footwork. Someone other than Stephen Curry, I mean, since he's not white."

Here's what I suggest: Reverse Soul Man, with Kemba Walker as the lead. We need to make this happen.