Saturday, March 24, 2007

Thanks, Guys (You Too, Refs)

Someone get Tyler Hansbrough a box of stationary because he's got a lot of thank you notes to write. Completely outclassed by freshman Taj Gibson on Friday night, Hansbrough lived to play another day only because his teammates bailed him out and the refs protected him like he was that pregnant girl in Children of Men. The series of foul calls on Gibson early in the second half were an absolute joke and they completely altered the game. You can say the USC was worn down or the UNC turned it on or that Brandon Wright was a beast, and all those things are true. But the biggest reason North Carolina came from 16 down to beat the Trojans is that Gibson had to go to the bench with four fouls midway through the second half. Period. End of story.

Not only is this the reason I hate the five-foul limit in college hoops, but it was also a prime example of the refs dominating the game below the radar. Because Gibson's fourth foul wasn't a terrible call, nobody really noticed how bad USC got screwed. You have to go back to the previous call to get the full effect, as Gibson was whistled for #3 on a total phantom foul. It was a situation in which Hansborough was looking as clumsy as ever and the refs bailed him out. If this sounds familiar it is because it happened about 4,000 times this year. I've never seen a college player with such mediocre skills get protected like this. Well, except for half the guys that played for Duke in the last 25 years, but other than that ...

Anyway, it was a shame. I would have liked to have seen what the Heels could have done against USC's full compliment of players, rather than a bunch of stiffs in the post and then a version of Gibson that was a passive shell of his former self. No wonder they had like 25 second chance points down the stretch.

(By the way, it seems that Tim Floyd's frustrations from today's PTI interview carried over to the game as he effectively ended the contest with a hilarious notecard tossing incident that resulted in a technical foul and one of Billy Packer's patented tongue lashings. High comedy.)

(Last thing: I know it seems odd to discuss the zebras and not mention Jeff Green's Traveling Willbury's move, but my belief is that he was hammered on that play anyway. Yes, he traveled, but he also should have been shooting free throws. So it's a draw.)

No comments: