Amir Johnson

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

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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