Thursday, November 19, 2009

Game 7 - Syracuse v. California - Nov. 19, 2009

GAME - Syracuse vs. California in New York, NY; Thursday, November 19, 2009

LINE - California -2

RESULT - Syracuse covers as an underdog, winning by 22

Tony Greene worked his 7th game of the year tonight, but only his second televised game of the year. Thus, this is ITGOTT's second opportunity to monitor Tony Greene's officiating.

The game, part of the 2K Sports Coaches vs. Cancer Classic from Madison Square Garden in New York City, featured two ranked teams - perhaps Tony Greene's highest profile game of the short season. The game, which opened as a pick'em (no favorite), went off with Cal as a 2 point favorite according to the Las Vegas Hilton Sportsbook. Officiating a game with a short spread, like this game, is very different than officiating a game with a large spread for an official who might be "on the take."

With A Small Spread, Keep The Team You Are Helping Close Early

With a short spread like tonight's game, an official "on the take" has more options. First, he could work to keep the team he's not favoring from running away early, counting on his ability to make close calls at the end, thus helping the team he's favoring as time winds down. Sometimes just "keeping it close" early may result in the team he's expected to help gain some momentum, and build themselves a lead that helps them cover the small spread.

If The Team You Are Helping Is Doing Well On Their Own, Lay Low

Additionally, an official "on the take" could help the team he's helping to build an early lead, then let the game progress pretty uneventfully with that large lead maintained throughout the game and the team covering its short spread.

This game provides an example of how both of these scenarios could happen in the same game.

Early in tonight's matchup, California streaked to a 5-0 lead, but the officials appeared to want to stop that runaway from happening. A few early calls went against Cal, and Syracuse reversed course to turn that 5-point early deficit into a 13-point lead. Pretty quickly, Cal was in foul trouble and Syracuse was not. As an example of this discrepancy, Syracuse shot 11 free throws (as a typical Syracuse team, they only made 6), before Cal went to the line even once. With that kind of early free throw differential, Tony Greene and his officiating colleagues (Bernard Clinton and Roger Ayers) were able to see Syracuse build a big lead, something an official "on the take" for Syracuse would want to happen.

After Syracuse built its lead, the half wound down with little change in the margin and little noise from the officials, and Syracuse took an 11-point lead to the locker room. An uneventful end of the first half.

In an uneventful second half, Syracuse extended its 11-point halftime lead organically (with no apparent officiating help), to 19 with about 13 minutes to go.

With The Spread Easily Covered, Make Calls Favoring the OTHER Team To Draw Attention Away From Yourself

At one point, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim was yelling about a call at Tony Greene, but with a 19 point lead for the 2 point underdog, an official on the take for Syracuse can afford to make a couple of close ones go against the Orange, which could draw attention away from his bias, if it existed.

The remainder of the game was simply an exercise in Syracuse running out the clock. Even with a brief Cal run in the final minutes, the final score was 95-73, and all the while, the officials laid low.


There is never any way to know if officials are "on the take", but from early on in this game, it's clear that if these officials, including Tony Greene, WERE on the take, they were favoring Syracuse. Cal spurted early, and foul trouble stopped them. Syracuse extended its lead, and the officials never stopped their momentum. And once Syracuse had the game (and spread) in hand, the officials laid low, except for one call AGAINST Syracuse that got the ire of Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim. Lots of "on the take" rules were followed here, whether intentionally or not, and Syracuse easily covered the spread, their 22 point victory meaning that the 2-point underdogs covered the spread by 24 points.

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