Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hoops: What is that Foul Smell?

U of Washington Huskies 123 - Seattle University Redbirds 76
No matter who you were rooting for at last night's game at Hec Edmundson Pavilion, you were bound to come away with a bad taste in your mouth.

I know that I complain about basketball officiating a great deal. I also know just how hard it is to call a decent game. Earl Strom, the great NBA ref, once wrote in an article published long ago in Sports Illustrated (and I'm paraphrasing a bit here), " Reffing a good game is like having a good marriage. It's a day-to-day proposition. Some days are good; some days are not." So, even the best (and Earl was, if not the best, certainly on any reasonable person's short list) can have a lousy game.

Last night all three officials had a lousy game. Couple that with a Husky team that was hungry to prove itself after losing a last second heartbreaker at UCLA and then getting thumped at USC and you have a buzz saw all ready and waiting for Seattle U to step into. And step into it they did.

I don't think I have been at a game where more fouls were called or more players were fouled out. In all, 8 players had to sit down; 6 from SU(Gweth, Broussard, Harris, Gilmore, Boxley, and Jones), 2 from UW (Overton and Bryan-Amaning). This created a real problem for Cameron Dollar, the SU coach, at the end of the game as he had only brought 10 players. The game ended with Seattle, already beleagured by 37 minutes of punishing defense, having to put only 4 guys on the floor, playing 4 on 5.

UW games usually last 2 hours. They called so many fouls that the game went 30 minutes over that. I can't say I understand why they called so many fouls. It looked to me like they lost control of the game early and then tried to get it back by penalizing people at the line. UW certainly benefited as we shot 60 free throw attempts by my count (which could be off by 1 or 2). By my count Seattle U also shot 43 attempts. 103 free throws in a game! Are those guys crazy? incompetent? blind? some combination of the three?

The Huskies played great defense, cutting off passing lanes, keeping in front of their player, generally harassing them. Seattle U responded in the first half by falling apart. Charles Garcia, an extremely talented 6'10" junior transfer from Los Angeles (who couldn't get into UW for some reason) tried to take the whole team onto his shoulders and force the game inside. He banged in there with a great deal of ferocity, but little effect. He is obviously quite talented. Last night will not make it onto his personal highlight reel. He may have felt he had something to prove to the Huskies. It certainly looked as though they had something to prove to him. Until later in the second half, the only points he made were from the free throw line. He scored 18 in all, 12 from the stripe.

The Huskies got good contributions out of the players you would expect; 27 from Pondexter, 19 from Overton, 10 from Gaddy. But there were some unexpected ones as well: 12 from Suggs, 16 from Holiday, 20 (!!) from Elston Turner. Isaiah Thomas had stomach flu and didn't suit up or play. Last night, they didn't really miss him.

At the end of the game, I felt bad for Cameron Dollar, his Seattle U team and their fans. They got thumped really hard in a ugly, ugly game. They are probably a much better team than they showed last night. It's unfortunate that they ran into UW when they were smarting after two tough losses.

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I'm currently 60 years old. I currently work as the learning management system specialist for American University of Madaba in Madaba, Jordan. I was originally certified as a high-school English teacher and taught school for 13 years (1 year of substituting, 1 year of 7th grade, 2 years of a combined 5th, 6th, 7th grade, 9 years of 8th grade). I've worked for hardware and software companies for the past 23 years doing training, training materials development, certification test development and other education related stuff. My wife and I have raised four children to adulthood; some of them live at home at the moment, but that won't last (they're too independent for that). We live at home with 2 Golden Retrievers, 2 black cats, a crazy cat, and, during the winter, 70,000 coho salmon.