GAME - North Carolina @ Kentucky; Saturday, Dec. 5, 2009
LINE - Kentucky - 4
RESULT - Kentucky 68-66, North Carolina gets a backdoor cover
Tony Greene showed up in Rupp Arena in downtown Lexington, KY, today, to work the highly anticipated tilt between #10 North Carolina and #5 Kentucky.
With A Small Spread, Keep The Team You Are Helping Close Early
And by "early," Tony Greene apparently thought REALLY early. 2 seconds in and it was obvious where this game was headed, if Tony Greene had any say in it. Tony Greene tosses the ball up for the opening tap, Kentucky's John Wall is tripped (an "automatic call" according to CBS's Clark Kellogg) and Ted Valentine has to come from out of nowhere to make the call that Tony Greene was obviously eyeing, yet chose to ignore.
Three minutes later, UNC's Larry Drew II raises his arm to charge into UK's Eric Bledsoe and Tony Greene, never one to miss an opportunity, somehow calls Bledsoe for the block, Bledsoe's second foul.
Two minutes later, after two electrifying plays by Kentucky superstar John Wall cut Carolina's early 7-point lead to 3, Tony Greene looks RIGHT AT at obvious travel by UNC's Tyler Zeller and doesn't blow his whistle. Of course, Ted Valentine (NOT "on the take") instincively blows his whistle even though he's not the official on top of the play. The right call is made, in spite of Tony Greene's efforts.
Use Calls To Stop Momentum By The Team You Are Not Helping
After a 13-0 run stretches UK's lead to 6, Tony Greene senses the game getting away from him. Since UNC's Roy Williams often eschews time-outs to stop his opponent's momentum, Tony Greene must "call" one for him. Thus, 7 1/2 minutes into the game, Tony Greene calls Kentucky's Daniel Orton for some sort of foul when replays show CLEARLY that UNC's Tyler Zeller, battling Patterson for post position, elbows Orton. So far, there has been no game all season where Tony Greene's bias was more on display early than today.
But not even the questionable officiating of Tony Greene (note that Ted Valentine and Mike Eades appeared to be totally "on the level") could stop the Big Blue, and before Tony Greene knew what hit him,the UK lead was stretched to 19 and the rout appeared to be on. Even with North Carolina beginning to hit a few shots, Kentucky was able to take a 15-point lead into the locker room.
And then Tony Greene got a break. John Wall exited the game about a minute into the second half with some sort of leg injury, and North Carolina began a 10-0 run to cut the Kentucky lead to 7, well within striking distance of not only the spread but also the game itself. During the UNC run, Tony Greene was able to avoid an obvious foul call on North Carolina during a DeMarcus Cousins putback. Whereas Tony Greene was willing to call a phantom call on Kentucky in the first half in an attempt to stop a Kentucky run, he was unwilling to call an actual call on North Carolina that could have curtailed a UNC run during the second half. It's these sort sof obviously hypocritical double standards that made ITGOTT actually begin this blog.
When Things Are Going Your Way, Swallow Your Whistle
Even with John Wall on the bench, Kentucky was able to maintain its lead, which was 12 when Wall returned with just under 12 minutes to go in the game. But then a North Carolina run, uninterrupted by any calls, cut the Kentucky lead to 5, and everything - the spread AND the outcome - was back in play. With 8 minutes to play, Kentucky Patrick Patterson was obviously fouled on a drive into the lane, and Tony Greene stood by idly, even extending his arms to the side as the ball trickled out of bounds after the non-call as if to indicate, "I didn't see anything!" in a bad imitation of Sergeant Schultz from Hogan's Heroes.
Then with 5 1/2 minutes to play, Tony Greene looks right at Kentucky's DeMarcus Cousins being fouled on an offensive rebound attempt, and again swallows his whistle. North Carolina is able to continue to chip away at Kentucky's lead, and with 4 1/2 minute to go in the game, Kentucky's lead was only 3. And oh by the way, North Carolina, with the points, was now a successful "back door cover" on a Vegas bet, just like an official "on the take" for North Carolina would want.
Make The Big Call At The End
It's Better To Be Lucky Than Good
An official "on the take" who has to make a big call at the end of a game to ensure the game - or the spread - goes the way he wants has cut it pretty close. Sometimes the big call at the end comes to that official - as it did to Tony Greene three nights ago when he overruled a fellow official on a crucial charge/block call that helped Vanderbilt cover the spread against Missouri (http://istonygreeneonthetake.blogspot.com/2009/12/game-16-missouri-vanderbilt-dec-2-2009.html) - and sometimes the potential big calls simply don't come to the official "on the take."
Today, the opportunity for the big call at the end didn't come to Tony Greene. With Kentucky up by 2 and with the ball inside of 35 seconds to play (so with no shot clock), North Carolina was forced to foul. Kentucky's Eric Bledsoe hit his free throws, and on the ensuing possession, Mike Eades was the official in position to declare that the ball bounced out of bounds after North Carolina touched it. UNC fouled again, Bledsoe hit a free throw to push the lead to 5, but a UNC tip with 7 seconds to go cut the lead to 3.
UNC was still forced to foul, and this time John Wall sank both free throws and pushed the lead to 5.
BUT... a meaningless three at the buzzer by North Carolina flips the spread. UK wins 68-66, and if you took North Carolina and the points, YOU WIN (just like it appeared all game that Tony Greene wanted)!!!
It's better to be lucky than good.