Friday, November 20, 2009

Game 8 - Syracuse vs. North Carolina - Nov. 20, 2009

GAME - Syracuse vs. North Carolina in New York, NY; Friday, November 20, 2009

LINE - North Carolina -1

RESULT - Syracuse covers, winning 87-71

Tony Greene's 8th officiating outing of the 2009-2010 basketball season occurred tonight in the finals of the 2K Sports Classic in New York City. Since he worked last night's semi-finals, ITGOTT was confident he would be working either the championship or consolation tonight, and we were prepared to watch closely.

North Carolina, according to the Las Vegas Hilton Sportsbook, was a 1 point favorite in this match-up. The game opened as a pick-em, so there wasn't a lot of movement of the line.

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

Use Calls To Stop Momentum Of The Team You Are Not Helping

Get Major Players On The Team You Are Not Helping In Early Foul Trouble

The game opened with a quick Syracuse run, as they pretty efficiently (and without any close calls) opened an 8-0 lead in the first 3 minutes. Tony Greene then asserted himself, calling a very questionable blocking call on Syracuse's Andy Rautins as North Carolina's Will Graves lowered his shoulder driving to the hoop. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim was incensed, and after North Carolina took a 13-11 lead on an "and one" by Ed Davis with 15 minutes to go, the early momentum that Syracuse had was totally evaporated... and it all started on that questionable blocking call on Andy Rautins.

This call served two masters: 1. The call stopped Syracuse's early momentum, preventing them from running away with the game. 2. The call put an early foul a good Syracuse player, Andy Rautins. When Rautins was called for a legitimate charge with 16 minutes to go, he was thusly in early foul trouble. Getting a star in early foul trouble is a great strategy for officials who may be on the take, and Tony Greene did this without even making the second call, made by the execrable Mike Stuart when Rautins legitimately charged!

(Note: Mike Stuart's absurd histrionics in making that call with 15:55 to go in the first half - blowing the whistle multiple times to draw attention to himself before making his indication, and then running in to flamboyantly point at Rautins, laying supine in the lane, is VERY bad officiating form. Stuart should know better, and this peacock-esque preening for attention not only has no place in college basketball, it should cost him post-season assignments if he continues to do it throughout the season. Consider yourself warned Mike Stuart: ITGOTT will have its eyes on you, too, from now on.)

With 14:11 to go, Tony Greene called a second foul on Syracuse's Wesley Johnson, meaning that TWO Syracuse stars were now in early foul trouble.

Use Calls To Stop Momentum By The Team You Are Not Helping

Syracuse went on another quick run, with Rautins and Johnson each draining threes, to take a 10 point lead midway through the first half. But Tony Greene went to work again, first giving a 50/50 ball out-of-bounds under the North Carolina basket to Syracuse, then calling a cheap foul on Syracuse that ESPN's Dan Shulman actually called a "late whistle" and that Shulman also said had "incensed" Jim Boeheim. The subsequent North Carolina run, uninterrupted by Tony Greene, erased the Syracuse lead and the Tar Heels actually led by 2 at the half.

For clarification, North Carolina attempted 15 free throws in the first half; Syracuse only attempted 4.

The second half began with a quick Syracuse spurt, and within 90 seconds, that 2 point North Carolina halftime lead became a 4-point Syracuse advantage, which the Orange extended to 12 following an "and one" call, made by Roger Ayers, on North Carolina about 6 minutes into the second half. Having stopped Syracuse's momentum twice in the first half, it appeared now that a Syracuse rout was inevitable.

As Kenny Rogers Said, "Know When To Fold 'Em" and Swallow The Whistle

Syracuse's 22-1 run to open the second half made it totally clear that this was not the Tar Heels' night. The Tar Heels didn't make a single shot until 8 minutes into the second half, they made repeated turnovers, and they were absolutely out of the game before the second half reached its midway point. Even though the Tar Heels made a brief run to cut the Orange lead to single digits, Syracuse pulled away to win by 16, 87-71.

There is no way to know whether Tony Greene is "on the take" or not. But ITGOTT noticed odd officiating patterns by Greene during the 2008-2009 season, and has chosen to monitor his games throughout the 2009-2010 campaign, seeing how many calls he makes that fit the profile of an official as we'd imagine if that official were "on the take." Tony Greene didn't make any calls to help Syracuse tonight, but he did make a few early calls that helped North Carolina - attempts to stop Syracuse momentum, early fouls on Syracuse stars, etc. But tonight was clearly not North Carolina's night, and additional questionable calls to stop more Syracuse momentum could only draw attention to Tony Greene, and if he were "on the take", the last thing he would want is attention.

So, as Kenny Rogers said, "Know when to fold 'em." When you're an official "on the take", sometimes there is just no helping a team cover the spread, so just throw in the towel and be comfortable in the knowledge that you can only turn the tables so often and you did your best.

Perhaps that's what we saw tonight.

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