If referees Jim Burr, Tim Higgins and Earl Walton walked by a Manhattan newsstand on Thursday, they undoubtedly cringed at the morning headlines.
Above are the snarky back pages of the New York Daily News and the New York Post. Both condemned the referees as "clueless" for their egregious gaffe in the final seconds of St. John's 65-63 victory over Rutgers in the second round of the Big East tournament on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.
The tone of the game coverage itself from both the Post and Daily News wasn't anymore friendly than the headlines. Wrote the Post's Mike Vaccaro:
The way St. John's' 65-63 victory played itself out at the very end, it sure looked like every bad conspiracy theory ever dreamed up come to life, that St. John's — the Big East Tournament's virtual host, if not it's actual one — got one of the great home whistles (three of them actually) you'll ever see. Either that, or simply the worst example of egregious officiating we've seen in a long time.
Unfortunately for the Big East and Red Storm, the story of this tournament is not the Johnnies' return to prominence. Instead it is the lack of accountability among officials that is grabbing the headlines. Wednesday, the league was embarrassed on national TV as the St. John's-Rutgers second-round game descended into anarchy in the final moments.
Ouch. And worse yet, it's all true. Hopefully, Burr, Higgins and Walton each have thick skin because it looks like they're going to need it the rest of the week.