Saturday, January 9, 2010

Game 34 - Connecticut @ Georgetown - Jan 9, 2010

Game - Connecticut @ Georgetown; Saturday, January 9, 2010

Line - Georgetown - 5 1/2

Result - Georgetown wins the game 72-69, Connecticut covers the spread

Today provided the perfect opportunity for ITGOTT to review Tony Greene's performance, as he traveled to our nation's capital to officiate a game between #13 Connecticut and #12 Georgetown. Working with Bob Donato and Mike Kitts, Tony Greene was on display today in a nationally televised game between ranked opponents.

Swallow Your Whistle When Things Are Going Your Way

Early on, Georgetown played right into Connecticut's hands. The well-coached, disciplined Hoyas needed to control pace, hit shots, and play controlled basketball to outpoint the long, athletic Huskies. Without any clear officiating bias, the Hoyas made a few mistakes early, missing shots and making turnovers and halfway through the first half, the Huskies held a 4-point lead.

When Teams Have Different Styles, Make Sure the Pace Favors The Team You Are Helping

For Connecticut to win (or cover the spread) they were going to have to control the pace - or more specifically, keep Georgetown from slowing the pace down. By eschewing a lot of potential calls midway through the first half, particularly on fast breaks, this officiating crew was able to ensure that Connecticut won the pace race early and help them take a 34-19 lead. There were at LEAST six occasions where an officiating crew could have made calls to stop the Connecticut run and didn't blow the whistle. These non-calls during a four-minute, frenetic, up-and-down segment of the game helped fuel a 16-0 Connecticut run that resulted in a 12-point UConn lead. The Huskies continued to pour it on, taking a 15-point lead into halftime.

Use Calls (And Non-calls) Top Stop The Momentum of the Team You Are Not Helping

The officials swallowed their whistles early in the second half, especially with regards to Georgetown fouls, and before they knew what had happened, the 15-point halftime lead had been cut to 4 just 5 minutes into the second half. So the officials went to work, first sending UConn to the line on a phantom foul on a drive to the basket (which also broke Georgetown's momentum) and then failing to call an obvious goal-tend on a Georgetown possession. These quick calls (and non-calls) led the Huskies begin to extend their lead again, and when Georgetown began making ANOTHER run and cut the lead to 2, Tony Greene stepped in with an "and one" foul call on Georgetown to break THAT momentum.

Georgetown continued to grab the momentum, and actually cut the lead to 1 with about 9 1/2 minutes to go in the game. So Tony Greene skipped an obvious over-the-back call on UConn's Oriakhi as he made a putback to push their lead to 3. Keeping the game close meant the teams coudl determine the outcome - something all officials like - but Connecticut could win against the spread. So back and forth scores occurred by both teams with no calls made and Georgetown making no extension of its lead, and the game was within a couple of points all the way until 1:11 to play.

Make The Big Call At The End

At that point, Georgetown had 1-point lead, and was battling for a loose ball. A loose ball foul call on Georgetown (lustily booed by the Georgetown crowd and openly questioned by Dick Vitale) gave UConn free throws and a 1-point lead. Even though the game was absolutely in doubt, for Georgetown to win the 6-point spread now would be nearly impossible.

This is how officials want it. Less than a minute to go, the game will be decided by the players. But the spread was, for all intents and purposes, decided before this point. No matter what happens, UConn wins against the spread, which is 5 1/2.

And sure enough, Georgetown makes shots at the end - UConn misses shots - and the Hoyas pull out a 3-point victory, 72-69.

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