Jim Burr was the official in charge during the disaster that was the ending of the St. John’s-Rutgers game in the Big East Tournament.
Its only fitting that in his first game officiating in the NCAA Tournament he would be embroiled in controversy.
With 7.0 seconds left, Momo Jones hit two free throws to put Arizona up 77-74. Sean Miller’s philosophy has always been to foul when up three points, and he didn’t stray, putting Joe Jackson on the line for two shots with 4.6 seconds left. After hitting the first, Jackson missed the second. The rebound bounced around before ending up in Wesley Witherspoon’s hands. But Derrick Williams came out of nowhere and tossed Witherspoon’s game-winning layup attempt.
Game over. Arizona won 77-75.
It looked like Witherspoon had gotten fouled, and more than once. On the rebound, Jamelle Horne pushed Witherspoon and knocked him off-balance. And when you take a look at the slow-motion replay, it looks as if Derrick Williams makes solid contact with Witherspoon’s elbow before he blocks the shot.
If you want to complain about the Horne push not being called, I’m fine with that. It knocked Witherspoon off-balance and he couldn’t get any vertical explosiveness on the shot.
But don’t complain about the foul on Williams’ block. Its very, very close, even when using the replay. And when a slow-motion, HD replay is needed to determine that the foul is close, then its difficult to expect a referee to be able to make that call live.
If that foul is called, you’re telling me there wouldn’t be just as much outrage the other way? You’re telling me that Arizona fans wouldn’t be claiming that Burr assumed a foul or expected contact?
Either way, a close call that decides a game is going to upset someone. For my money, if you need to see the HD, slow-motion replay to determine that a foul “probably” should have been called, there really isn’t a valid complaint about a no-call.
This isn’t the first time that we have had a game-saving block shrouded in controversy. Yesterday, it was Kenneth Faried’s block on a Mike Marra three point attempt as Morehead State hung on to upset Louisville. Back in February, Williams blocked a shot by Darnell Gant in a win over Washington that many believed was a goaltend.