An instant (replay) classic
By Trevor Hass - Syracuse University '15 - 83 views
Kevin Jones’ play had been more impressive and frightening than Deniz Kilicli’s beard. The star from West Virginia (15-7, 5-4 Big East) was right on his Big East-leading average of 20 points per game and had penetrated the trademark 2-3 zone of Syracuse (22-1, 9-1 Big East) very effectively. Then, with two seconds left, Jones missed a potential game-winning three and dejectedly sunk to the floor.
The miss was upsetting for WVU, but what was more upsetting was that the game shouldn’t have even come down to that play.
A mere four seconds earlier, Kilicli put up a lefty hook and Syracuse’s Baye Moussa-Keita attempted to swat the shot. The ball bounced off the backboard and then Keita deflected it toward the sideline.
So that’s a goaltend, right? Yes it is, but the referees failed to make the blatant call and cost WVU from potentially sending the game into overtime.
“Do I think it was (goaltending)? No. I know it was. I saw the replay,” Head Coach Bob Huggins said according to ESPN. Huggy Bear couldn’t bear the news of the missed call and he burst up into the air and rushed out onto the court to protest, yet his plea was to no avail.
After review, it is clear that the refs made an erroneous call, but the play stood and Syracuse escaped with a 63-61 win.
The NCAA season-high crowd of 28,740 went ballistic as the Orange maintained their perfect home record. Many SU fans had been complaining about the previous foul calls made by the refs, but the fans were able to smile when it was all said and done.
Brandon Triche paced ‘Cuse with 18 points, while Darryl Bryant added 12 for the Mountaineers. The game was tight throughout, as the Orange led by four at halftime and (barely and semi-debatably) held on.
Looking ahead, the result of this game has serious implications for both teams and may affect the way instant replay is used in college basketball in the near future.
Syracuse has struggled without starting center Fab Melo, who has missed the past three games due to academic ineligibility. The buzz around campus is that SU will contend for a title with Melo, but will not do so without him. He protects the paint extremely well and alters shots. Notre Dame’s Jack Cooley was able to take advantage of the smaller frames and inexperience of Keita and freshman Rakeem Christmas in SU’s lone loss of the season.
Meanwhile, for West Virginia, the loss drops the Mountaineers to seventh in the Big East. After getting upset by a young St. John’s squad, Huggins’ team was in need of a bounce-back win. They nearly got one, but now they have to play Louisville, Notre Dame, and Marquette in the next few weeks and will need to pick up a few statement wins to warrant an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament.
The controversial issue of instant replay has befuddled sports junkies for years. Each sport has adopted specific rules. For example, Major League Baseball now reviews questionable home run or foul ball calls and can check if a fan interfered with a play. In college basketball, the refs can check how much time is on the clock and whether a shot is a two or a three. However, there is nothing in the rules that states that a goaltending call, or lack thereof, can be reviewed.
Should this policy be changed? After all, the correct call was a goaltend, and that is not what was called. College basketball analysts have mixed opinions on the matter. Hubert Davis feels as if there will always be human error in certain situations and both teams have to live with the results. Digger Phelps thinks that instant replay in such circumstances would help, but implementing the rule would be a difficult task.
The Big East informed analyst Andy Katz that it would not comment on the call in order to avoid setting the precedent of doing so. The refs should not be suspended; people aren’t perfect. The NCAA should investigate what is best for the sport in terms of what is reviewable. One downside is that games would last much longer if coaches could “challenge” calls like in football.
The rule may be changed in the near future, but for now, Syracuse comes away victorious and WVU suffers a heartbreaking defeat.