Gerry McNamara, Jim Boeheim, C.J. Fair

Refs rob Ohio State-Syracuse audience of an even better game


BOSTON – When the inevitable question about the officiating was posed to Jim Boeheim during his post-game press conference, the Syracuse head coach mumbled just two words:

“No comment.”

Despite the brevity, Boeheim’s response was everything needed to tell us how he really felt about the stripes.

The officiating in Saturday night’s game was awful…and that’s an understatement.

The Orange, who committed an average of only 15 fouls a game this season, were whistled 29 times against Ohio State, while the Buckeyes were called for 20 fouls. Two of those Ohio State personal fouls were called on their star Jared Sullinger, who had to sit out the final 13:42 of the first half.

While the referees probably didn’t impact the outcome of the East Regional Final, they at least robbed fans of what could have been an even more competitive and high-level game.

Of the 16 players that took the floor, three fouled out, 10 committed at least three fouls, and every player committed at least one personal.

With Sullinger sidelined for most of the first half, there was a huge chunk of the game where the best player on the floor, one of the best players in college basketball, was unable to compete and showcase his skills in front of a national audience.

The same goes for Dion Waiters, and also Rakeem Christmas.

Even when the team’s best players were on the court, many were reluctant to play with a smidgen of physicality.

Sullinger basically rolled out a red carpet down the lane for Jardine twice in the second half.

Baye Moussa-Keita became frightened to try and grab a rebound for fear of bumping another player.

Christmas pretty much looked like he just wanted to quit playing, as the basic principles of interior defense suddenly became infractions.

It got to a point in the second half where players weren’t playing defense. They were playing some real-life version of Operator; don’t even touch the player you’re guarding or you’ll be whistled.

For a moment,  it looked like reserves Amir Williams and Michael Carter-Williams may have to decide what team moved on to the Final Four, while the guys that got both these teams to this point would have to helplessly watch from the bench.

The whole issue off poor officiating was compounded by the technical foul Tom O’Neill issued to Boeheim.

“He was assessed for being out of the coach’s box and gesturing about a call,” said an official release from crew chief John Higgins.

Gesturing? About a call?

You mean this gesture? Or this one ?

Was this the one that sent O’Neill over the top?

Boeheim has a patented “I don’t care for that call/play/decision” gesture. If he were to get a technical for every time he “gestured about a call” he wouldn’t be coaching anymore.

I was sitting right next to NCAA men’s basketball national officiating coordinator John Adams last night.

Stoic for the entire 40 minutes, you would have not known he was receiving an abundance of emails and texts regarding the number of questionable calls had he not set his cellphone font size to “extra large”.

His response to the officiating?

“No comment.”

Yes, sometimes nothing can tell the whole story.

Follow Nick Fasulo on Twitter @billyedelinSBN

As good as they’ve been, No. 3 Michigan State has yet to play their best

Bryn Forbes, Ryan Fazekas
Associated Press
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Sunday night’s Wooden Legacy title game matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence was billed as a matchup of the nation’s two best players, and rightfully so. Michigan State senior Denzel Valentine (17 points, six rebounds, five assists), who already has two triple-doubles to his credit this season, and Providence redshirt junior Kris Dunn (21 points, five rebounds, seven assists) have more than lived up to the preseason expectations and more of the same was expected in Anaheim.

And while both had their moments, it was Michigan State’s supporting cast that made the difference in their 77-64 victory. The scary thing for future opponents on Michigan State’s schedule is that Tom Izzo’s team is nowhere near being a finished product.

With Valentine dealing with first-half foul trouble Bryn Forbes stepped up, scoring 13 of his 18 points to help the Spartans take a two-point lead into the half. As for the 11-0 run that Michigan State produced to take control of the game late, a host of players stepped forward in regards to scoring, rebounding and defending.

Freshmen Deyonta Davis and Matt McQuaid combined to score nine points over the final 5:32, with transfer guard Eron Harris adding six of his 12 points during that stretch. The Spartans outscored the Friars, who aren’t as deep, 22-7 during that stretch to close out the game, hunting for quality shots and hitting the offensive glass while making things difficult for Providence on the other end of the floor.

The end result was a final margin that does not indicate just how close the game was. While Providence seemed to run out of steam Michigan State received contributions from multiple players, which is undoubtedly a good sign for this group moving forward.

The Spartans will return the currently injured Gavin Schilling later this season, giving them another big man alongside Davis, Matt Costello and Colby Wollenman. He was a player they missed Sunday night, as he can defend opposing big men both in the post and on the perimeter. His absence was a main reason Michigan State didn’t have an answer for Providence’s Ben Bentil (20 points, seven rebounds) defensively.

The key for this group is going to end up being role definition, which is especially true in the case of Harris. A transfer from West Virginia, Harris came to East Lansing with the reputation of being a big time scorer. He’s struggled through the first two weeks of the season, but he got on a roll on Sunday night, finishing with 12 points, three boards and three assists. He showed he’s capable of doing a variety of things on the perimeter, and fitting into a “Swiss army knife” kind of role would make Michigan State that much more dangerous.

There’s no denying that Michigan State has been one of the nation’s best teams thus far.

But there’s also no denying that the Spartans have yet to hit their ceiling, which is definitely a positive moving forward.

Wichita State’s Anton Grady returns home with team

AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.
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Wichita State forward Anton Grady was released from a hospital in Orlando on Sunday afternoon in time to return home with his Shocker teammates.

Grady suffered a spinal corn concussion on Friday when he collided head-first with an Alabama defender, snapping his head sharply to the side. He lay on the court motionless for 10 minutes after the injury and was taken off the floor on a stretcher.

[RELATED: Can WSU still make tourney?]

“I want to send out a big thank you to Shocker Nation and all of my friends and family for of the love and encouragement that I have received the past few days,” Grady said in a statement on Sunday morning. “I’ve been reading your tweets and posts and appreciate every last one of them. I have a lot of work to do to get back on the court, but with the help of such a great support system, I’m ready for the challenge.”

By Friday night, Grady had feeling in all of his extremities, but he has a long road of rehab ahead of him.