The 2014-15 college basketball season is in the books, but there was still plenty to talk about a day after Monday’s terrific 2015 NCAA Tournament finale between Duke and Wisconsin.
Unfortunately but perhaps not surprisingly, officiating became a big topic of discussion after the game and remained so on Tuesday. A big reason for that were Bo Ryan’s pointed comments on CBS immediately after the game, when unprovoked he mentioned that “there was more body contact in this game than any game we played all year” and “it’s just a shame that it had to be played that way.”
While undoubtedly some or maybe the large majority of that was frustration by the Badgers after a tough loss, some interesting news came out on Tuesday in regards to an important out of bounds possession call late in the game. One particular replay showed definitively that possession should have gone to Wisconsin on the play, but the NCAA’s director of officials John Adams said on SiriusXM College Sports that game officials did not have that TV replay available to them, which resulted in officials staying with the original call, which-it should be noted-is the correct following of procedure.
This highlights something that has been woefully obvious all season and that should have been considered in the past: that college basketball replay still has major kinks to work out. From this view, replay should be scrapped in all but a few cases. There’s no good reason to stop a game for 3-5 minutes to look at a replay, and especially when that stoppage too often results in an incorrect call not being fixed anyway.
If we’re going to have replay, it should be simple: if officials can’t detect an error within one minute of reviewing the play, then the play needs to be upheld. Period. Replays after that are cut off, and we get back to the game.
It also should go without saying that officials should have access to TV’s replays of a play. The reality is those replays don’t always surface quickly and may take a couple minutes to furnish. Too bad.
Human error is part of sports. Officials are going to make errors when trying to determine who knocks a ball out of bounds. It happens. Whether college basketball (or the sport as a whole) has other problems with how it’s officiated is a whole other story, but when it comes to simple black-or-white judgment calls on possession, it’s ridiculous to stop the game for several minutes to try to decide if there’s a reason to change a call.
There is all kinds of talk about changes coming to college basketball this offseason, and we’ve repeatedly hoped those changes are thoroughly investigated and not merely changes for the sake of change in reaction to a few very loud voices. Replay is one area that is affecting pace of games, and it seems clear it was implemented in this sport too quickly, with little consideration of unintended consequences such as long game stoppages. One can only hope there are some lessons in that as we embark on the offseason, and that any attempts to “fix” something-replay or otherwise-are done intelligently and only after being completely thought through before implementation.
- Tragic news from Tuesday, as a small plane crash in central Illinois claimed the life of Illinois State associate head coach Torrey Ward as well as ISU athletic department deputy director for external relations Aaron Leetch. The plane was coming back from Indianapolis after the party of seven including those two had attended the NCAA championship game. Ward had been an assistant for the Redbirds since 2012 and played collegiately at Alabama-Birmingham. Very sad news.
- To the surprise of few, VCU has hired Tennessee-Chattanooga coach Will Wade as its new head coach. Wade was an assistant to Shaka Smart with the Rams and was 40-25 in two years at UTC. VCU was looking for someone who would continue the Havoc style it has become known for, and the 32-year old Wade is expected to do just that.
- Eastern Kentucky will have an announcement of a new coach on Thursday, and reports are it is expected to be Minnesota assistant Dan McHale. A native of New Jersey and a graduate of Kentucky, where he was a student manager, this will be his first collegiate head coaching job. Terrific opportunity for a young coach.
- Northern Kentucky also has its new coach. John Brannen will take over the Norsemen after serving as an assistant at Alabama the past six years. Brannen coached the Crimson Tide in the NIT this year after Anthony Grant was let go and played collegiately at Morehead State and Marshall. He is a native of Covington, Ky., a mere eight miles from the NKU campus.
- Kansas freshman forward Cliff Alexander is going into the NBA Draft, rather than attempting to fight the NCAA for his reinstatement. Alexander was one of the highest rated recruits coming into the 2014-15 season and had an eventful but ultimately disappointing year, averaging just over seven points and five rebounds. Also going: Arizona sophomore forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who averaged 11.2 ppg and 6.8 rpg and is a projected first round pick.
- Surprising news for Georgetown, but good news, as D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera has reversed field and will be staying with the Hoyas after initially declaring to go pro. He averaged 16.3 ppg this past season as junior and most certainly will help keep John Thompson III’s team at its customary level.
- Duke assistant coach Jeff Capel has withdrawn from consideration for the Arizona State coaching job. Interesting that Capel waited until after the championship game to do so, but clearly he is comfortable with his position assisting Mike Krzyzewski for the time being.
Enjoy your Wednesday.