Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Game 22 - Richmond @ South Carolina - Dec. 16, 2009

GAME - Richmond @ South Carolina; Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2009

LINE - South Carolina - 4 1/2

RESULT - South Carolina covers, winning 76-58

Tony Greene showed up in Columbia, SC, tonight, to work the match-up between the Richmond Spiders and the South Carolina Gamecocks. The Gamecocks entered the game as a 4 1/2 point favorite, according to the Las Vegas Hilton.

If The Team You Are Helping Has Bigger Players, Let The Game Be More Physical

South Carolina entered the game knowing it was the bigger, more physical team. Richmond played the role of the savvier, ball movement specialists who would work to get good shots and play very smart defense, preventing fast breaks and easy buckets. A more physical game would CLEARLY help the Gamecocks.

As the lead official, Tony Greene would be likely to set the officiating tone that this ballgame took. That tone was set early when there was simply nothing being called by any official.

Unbelievably, the first 5+ minutes were played without a single foul call. On one possession, South Carolina was crashing the offensive glass and two fouls could be HEARD when Richmond players were slapping the arms of South Carolina players. Going the other way, Richmond saw two players hit the floor with no call. Before a single call was made by any official, a hot-shooting Richmond team had taken a 12-4 lead.

The Charge/Block Call - It Can Always Go Either Way, So Make Sure It Goes Your Way

Then Tony Greene stepped in, whistling a Richmond player for a charge on a clear 50/50 call with about 12 minutes to go in the half. The Spiders were unable to gain any momentum, and a 7-0 South Carolina run reduced an 8-point Richmond lead to a single point advantage halfway through the first half.

Use Calls (And Non-Calls) To Stop Momentum Of The Team You Are Not Helping

Richmond wouldn't be denied, and some aggressive defense and some smart passing led to some easy Spider baskets, and their lead quickly ballooned to 9 points as they seized the momentum. But the officials apparently didn't want Richmond to have the momentum, and one of the most ticky-tack fouls ITGOTT has seen all year was called on Richmond, resulting in an "and one" for the Gamecocks.

Yet Richmond STILL wouldn't be denied, controlling the tempo and making efficient, smart passes to earn their players open shots. Other than ignore South Carolina fouls (which they did on two consecutive possessions), there really wasn't anything the officials could do. Not that Tony Greene didn't try, calling YET ANOTHER "and one" foul call on Richmond with just over 4 minutes left in the half, the subsequent free throw reducing the Spider lead to 3.

Richmond's sticky D resulted in a couple of Gamecock turnovers, and the Spider halftime lead was extended to 8. (It should also be noted that JB Caldwell, NOT Tony Greene, called a charge on South Carolina inside of a minute to play in the first half, the resulting Richmond basket representing a 4-point change). For South Carolina to cover, they needed to win the second half by 15 points, a pretty large challenge against a team that controls tempo as well as Richmond.

If You Need Something To Change, Set A Tone Early In The Second Half By Changing The Officiating Style From The First Half

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

Amazingly, 15 seconds into the second half (remember, it was more than 5 minutes into the first half before a foul was called on ANY team), a foul is called on Richmond. 2 more minutes, and yet another "and one" foul was called on Richmond, and suddenly South Carolina was only down 4. This officiating crew, led by Tony Greene, was clearly officiating this game differently in the second half than they had in the first half.

And oh by the way, that "and one" call was the FOURTH foul on Richmond senior leader David Gonzalvez, so he had to go to the bench VERY early in the second half.

A non-call on a South Carolina block of a Richmond lay-up, then a 50/50 out-of-bounds call that went South Carolina's way, and 3 minutes into the second half, an 11-2 South Carolina run has flipped an 8-point Richmond halftime lead into a 1-point deficit.

The early second-half tone set by the officials really seemed to rattle Richmond, and announcer Dave Neal even claimed that Richmond had gone into a "meltdown situation." With the 4 1/2 point spread COVERED less than 5 minutes into the second half (after South Carolina had an 8-point deficit at halftime), the power that the officials have to change the momentum of a game by changing how they officiate that game has not been more evident in any game ITGOTT has reviewed this season. This game was CLEARLY officiated differently, as relates to Richmond especially, in the first half than it was in the opening minutes of the second half - and that change seemed to make all the difference in the game.

Richmond coach Chris Mooney saw the game slipping away from him, and in desperation, put his senior leader David Gonzalvez back into the game long before the game reached the mid-point of the second half. That change, and the defensive intensity brought by Gonzalvez, helped Richmond reduce the lead to 1 point, and flip the spread. With the game tied with nearly 11 minutes to play, Richmond coach Chris Mooney judiciously put his senior leader David Gonzalvez, laden with 4 fouls, back on the bench. The resulting decrease in defensive intensity allowed the Gamecocks to build back a 2-point lead, demonstrating how a key call (that fourth foul call on Gonzalvez 2 minutes into the second half) can influence a game long after the whistle has finished sounding.

If The Team You Are Helping Has Bigger Players, Let The Game Be More Physical

Then, with the game tied with just under 8 minutes to go, the Tony Greene-led officiating crew once AGAIN changed its style and swallowed their whistles. A couple of possible Gamecock fouls (and an obvious Gamecock traveling violation) were ignored, a 50/50 out-of-bounds ball went South Carolina's way, and without a single foul being called on either team for 3 1/2 minutes, a 15-0 South Carolina run blew the game open. It seemed to ITGOTT that this was how this Tony Greene-led crew wanted it to be at the outset of the game, but Richmond's hot shooting, crisp passing, and intense D didn't allow for that. A simple change of officiating style changed the course of the game, and ANOTHER change of officiating style dictated the ending.

Look at it this way: with the game tied at 52 with 8 minutes to go, the officials simply stopped calling fouls on South Carolina. Shockingly, not a single foul was called on the Gamecocks for MORE THAN NINE MINUTES!!!

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

Tony Greene stepped in to call a meaningless reach-in call on South Carolina 30 feet from from the basket - no free throws, of course, Richmond wasn't in the bonus - with a minute and a half to go in the game. That call was the ONLY foul call made on South Carolina during the final 10 1/2 minutes of the game.

No wonder South Carolina covered the 4 1/2 point spread after trailing by 8 at halftime!

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