Crucial call in the Buffs' game at No. 3 Arizona came down to the slimmest of margins — even with video replay.
He’s back in Boulder now, several days removed from the hurly-burly of what happened in Tucson last week. Tad Boyle wants to move on, but you can tell he still feels a tug in reverse.
“You know, you gotta take your medicine and move on sometimes in life,” he says, “and that’s what we’re doing.”
You know the back story. Last Thursday night, Boyle’s Colorado team had Arizona on the ropes with double-digit leads. It was poised to take down the nation’s No. 3 team in what might have proved to be the biggest win on the road all season in college basketball.
Then came the tie at the end of regulation, and Sabatino Chen’s banked three-point shot and the official who signaled it good. And then the huddle at courtside, and the officials’ palms down to deny the basket and send the game to overtime, which Arizona dominated.
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No doubt, on Tuesday’s Pac-12 conference call, Boyle didn’t need me reminding him that No. 5-7-2b of the rule book says in part: “When definitive information is unattainable with the use of the monitor, the original call stands.”
As for that passage, Boyle said, “It’s tough. It’s like a sock in the gut. There’s a lot of different opinions on that. Well, there’s two different opinions. You’re either in one camp or the other.”
The replay views available to the public make it clear that it would be almost impossible to have a closer decision. You couldn’t draw up a more hairline launch than Chen’s.
Which makes me wonder whether the officials could really split those hairs and still adhere to that passage of the rule book.
Apparently, they decided they could. Pac-12 officials coordinator Ed Rush issued a statement of support Friday, but my email to a league spokesman requesting to ask a couple of questions of Rush got the response, “Ed is unavailable.” (Via forwarded email, Rush did respond to a couple of general questions.)
If he were available, Rush might explain that Pac-12 arenas are now equipped with high-definition replay angles provided by XOS Digital, and that those supplement the views provided by TV cameras that you and I see.
Rush also might have noted that different angles — you’ve probably seen the side “screen-cap” view that looks pretty favorable to Chen — can be deceiving.
He might also have explained that Verne Harris, the referee in that game, has a fine reputation.
But he wasn’t available to say any of that. So the fans — the ones paying for tickets and things like Pac-12 Networks — are left to guess their conclusions while the league smiles and says, “Move on, there’s nothing here.”
Bone’s odd use
of the clock
It’s debatable whether Washington State coach Ken Bone’s use of the late-game clock was one of WSU’s problems down the stretch in its 68-63 loss to Washington Saturday night. At the very least, it was provocative.
Rewinding: The Huskies had a one-point lead and the ball with 41 seconds left. WSU had committed only three team fouls.
Bone had the Cougars commit three quick fouls, then a fourth that sent UW guard Andrew Andrews to the foul line with 23 seconds left. He was a 71 percent free-throw shooter, and he hit both. WSU missed a three, and the game was essentially over.
“Washington was very efficient on the offensive end in a variety of ways,” said Bone, defending the strategy. “Points per possession, they were doing a good job. They had hit some nice shots from the perimeter, they had scored in the paint and they’d also done a good job on the offensive glass in the last three, four minutes.
“We chose to strategically start fouling. We didn’t want to get into a situation where now all of a sudden, there’s eight or 10 or 12 seconds left in the game, and we still have three fouls on us.”
It’s a common ploy, intentionally bumping up the foul count to get the opponent to the line, but I can’t recall seeing it when the trailing team is down one with more than a full shot clock remaining.
It’s the second consecutive year Bone has seen a late stratagem go awry against the Huskies in Pullman. Last year, he put in reserve Patrick Simon to attempt a key, late three, and Simon shot an air ball.
Speaking of unusual . . .
Carrick Felix, Arizona State forward, has been Pac-12 player of the week twice this season. Two Colorado players have made it, two from Oregon State.
And none from Arizona, which is undefeated.
“What do we gotta do to get one of our players player of the week?” Sean Miller asked Pac-12 conference-call moderator Dave Hirsch as Miller’s segment ended. “Don’t you think it’s somewhat remarkable a team can be 14-0 and No. 3 in the nation, but not one of our players has played well enough to be player of the week?”
Miller can’t believe that. Of course, he might not be able to believe that Kyle Weaver and Derrick Low, two of the key authors of the greatest turnaround in conference history under WSU’s Tony Bennett in 2007 and 2008, somehow never made it in their careers, either.