(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.


Not much to tell.

Add to Technorati Favorites

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Exercises in Assininity in the ACC

The ACC admits that the official timekeeper at last week's Duke-Clemson game erred, resulting in enabling Duke to have time to go the length of the floor in the waning seconds to score a basket as time expired to give the home team the victory.

So what?

So what, as in, that's all they're going to do? This is an outrage, and the right thing to do would be to a) wipe out the final result, b) replay the final seconds and c) do so at Clemson before Duke's game against the Tigers in their gym and play an ensuing OT there if need be. And d), think hard about having all DI teams standardize their clocks (if they haven't done so already) and have a crew of however many people it takes, say 3-5 people, who travel like the officials to and run the game from the scorer's table. This way, they're not Duke people, they're not Clemson people, they're officials like the guys who wear the striped shirts on the floor. To fail to do otherwise is to continue to enable this type of amateurish result and to cast some lingering doubt on the integrity of the foundation of the game.

Yes, that's harsh, but it's hard enough to win in Coach K-ville. Duke is a great team, the gym is a bandbox, the local partisans are intimidating (and very loyal fans), and, yes, I think that the refs get intimidated too. So, against those odds and against a formidable team that usually wins at home, Clemson found themselves tied with a few seconds to go. Except the official timekeeper goofed, didn't start the clock at an important interval, and, well, Duke ended up having enough time to win the game.

I give Clemson coach Oliver Purnell credit, because he's put it past him like a good coach should and is getting his players focused on the rest of their season. But if I were the Clemson A.D., I'd be screaming bloody murder at the meetings of the ACC Athletic Directors and work with the NCAA to effect this change.

Look, I understand that mistakes get made, and my guess is that the local timekeeper regrets the error. But underlying that is the fact that local people -- be they University administrators, townies, whomever -- like to get close to the program and work the games because they get a good seat to great hoops. Deep down, you have to believe that they hope their hometown squad fares well and goes deep into the NCAA tournament. Which means, of course, that they have a built-in conflict of interest -- they work for the university or in the community -- they are not as impartial, as, perhaps, they should be. And maybe they're not impartial at all.

That doesn't mean that these folks don't try to do their best, and many do a great job. But what it means is that in key games every now and then gaffes could be made that undermine the system. And when that happens, reforms should be considered.

Because Clemson got jobbed.

They might not have won the game in overtime, but they deserved to play an overtime to determine the winner.

Because it's tough enough to play Paulus, McRoberts, Nelson and company and against Coach K. It's tougher to do it in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

And it's even worse when they can't get fair treatment on the clock in the waning moments. The clock, for Pete's sake!

That's embarrassing, and the ACC should have had a better remedy than simply acknowledging that a mistake was made.

Because, until reforms are implemented, mistakes like these could recur.

At worse times than this one, too.


Anonymous The Sports Curmudgeon said...

Having the timing officials and the official scorer assigned by the conference or some entity above the athletic department of the home team cannot hurt the process. However, this particular game situation is not the one to use as the basis for such an argument.

At the instant of the timing error - when Duke was inbounding the ball and it was intercepted by the Clemson player who hit a three-point shot to tie the game - it would have been strongly in the interest of a "Duke-motivated timer" to start the clock prematurely when Duke was ahead and to stop the clock immediately when the game was tied.

That's exactly waht DID NOT happen here. So, I have to conclude that the timer was not biased or being a "homer"; he made a human error.

And sadly, making the timer someone assigned by the conference and paid by the conference will not eliminate - or even minimize - human error.

10:38 PM  
Blogger SportsProf said...

I don't think that's right, Curmudgeon, but thanks for the comments. What I saw was that the Duke timer failed to start the clock when the game was tied, thereby giving Duke the chance to win the game in regulation. Had the clock started when it should have, there would have been an overtime.

Thanks, as always, for posting.

9:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you understate the wide and not necessarily unspoken perception that Duke normally plays 8 against 5 in its home stadium. Incidents like this merely underscore the essential homerism in the ACC, and especially so in Durham. All other opposing coaches are surely looking at Purnell and thinking, "There but for the grace of God..." Those Saint Mike American Express ads don't hurt either.

12:11 PM  
Blogger Lee J. Cockrell said...

I posted some background on another referee timekeeping error that led to a Duke win.

4:53 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home