Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Game 34 - #5 Pittsburgh @ Providence - January 4, 2011

Game - #5 Pittsburgh @ Providence - Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Line - Pittsburgh -6

Result - #5 Pittsburgh wins 83-79, but Providence gets the back-door cover of the 6-point spread

After a month-long break, ITGOTT is back on the officiating prowl, and the indefatigable Tony Greene was also working, officiating tonight's Pitt-Providence match-up in Providence, his 34th Division 1 game of the 2010-2011 season.

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

Although hot-shooting Pitt has sprinted to a 15-6 lead, Providence went on a 7-0 run (aided by a couple of inconsequential calls against Pitt) to cut the Pitt lead to 15-13. The momentum was clearly on the side of the Friars.

Then, with just over 11 minutes to play in the first half, Providence had pounded the ball under the basket in an attempt to score easily and tie the game. A Pitt player hacked Providence's Marshon Brooks as Brooks attempted a lay-up, but Tony Greene, working the baseline made no call. Even Don Orsillo, working the game for the Big East Network, noted that there was "a lot of contact; no call" as Pitt took the rebound and headed to the other end of the floor.

On their own, this Greene no-call, and Barbar's comment, may have been innocuous. But, when, 2 possessions later after Providence had extended its run to 9-0 and tied the game (and still CLEARLY had the momentum), the SAME THING HAPPENED !!! This time, with just over 10 minutes to go in the first half, Providence's Vincent Council drove the lane and AGAIN Pitt appeared to hack him and AGAIN Tony Greene, working the baseline, made no call. Amazingly, AGAIN, Don Orsillo commented that there was a "lot of contact." Yet there was no call. Orsillo then gratuitiously adds that the officials are "letting them play at the moment... lot of contact down there."

When an official makes two no-calls on the same situation within one minute (of gametime), and when the announcer comments BOTH TIMES... and when MAKING calls there might add to a teams' momentum, well the eyebrows at ITGOTT are raised.

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

After Pitt's shooting warms up - mostly Gilbert Brown, who seeming can't miss from distance - the Panthers turn their scant 2-point deficit into a 9-point lead with just over 2 minutes to go in the game. When Marshon Brooks drains a 3-pointer with about 90 seconds to go in the half, an official (not Tony Greene, either Gene Steratore or Ray Perone - ITGOTT couldn't tell which) whistled Pitt's Gilbert Brown for what Big East TV color commentator Ron Perry called a "touch foul." As Brooks completed the momentum-shifting 4-point play, Perry went further and branded the call "a bit of a cameo," which we think means that Brooks was acting when he fell to the ground as Perry barely touched him.

If You Need Control To Affect The Spread, Call It Tight After Halftime

With Pitt a 6-point favorite and with the Panthers having a 7-point halftime lead, officials "on the take" may want to take control of the game in the second half to affect the outcome with regards to the spread. And as the second half began, the crew of Tony Greene, Ray Perone, and Gene Steratore officiated with a much tighter whistle - both ways, although the FOUR early fouls on Pitt were noted by ITGOTT.

The LATE Whistle - Watch The Play Unfold Before Making The Call

A quick early second half spurt by the Providence Friars had cut the Pitt 7-point halftime lead to just one when the Panthers responded with basketball's great momentum-shifter... the "and one." The Panther lead was extended to 4, and the 6-point spread was once again threatened.

However, as Providence's Kadeem Batts missed an inside shot with just under 13 minutes to go in the second half, Tony Greene - working the baseline - appeared to WAIT to see if the ball went in before making the foul call against Pitt. Whether "on the take" or not, waiting to see the result of a play before making a foul call is just bad officiating, and Tony Greene was guilty of that on this call tonight.

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

In addition to calling the game much tighter in the second half, Tony Greene called Pitt's Gilbert Brown - the Panther whose hot shooting had been such an impact on the game so far - for a hand check - his FOURTH foul - 20 feet from the basket with 12 1/2 minutes to go in the game. The potential impact of losing the game's hottest shooter was huge, and Brown was immediately pulled from the game. Given that Providence had played well, with intensity, and was playing very good defense, this call could affect not only the game but also the spread. At this point, Pitt had a 4-point lead (the spread, remember, was Pitt by 6), which although they extended their lead to 10 with 8 minutes to go, there were notable Pitt players in foul trouble for the stretch of the game.

And having so many players in foul trouble down the stretch - especially Gilbert Brown - proved to be the Panthers' undoing. Although they had a 10-point lead with 8 minutes to go (covering the 6-point spread) the tenacious Providence Friars came all the way back to take the lead - aided by some amazing offensive foul calls against Pitt.

Make The Big Call(s) At The End

An offensive push-off on Pitt's Ashton Gibbs with about 6 minutes to play resulted in a Providence three-pointer which cut the lead to 3. But then after back-to-back fouls on the Friars at the Pitt end of the floor allowed Pitt to extend the lead BACK to 6 via free throws, yet ANOTHER Friar three sliced the lead back to 3. A SECOND offensive foul call on Pitt's Ashton Gibbs - this time with about 4 minutes to and with Pitt clinging to a 4-point lead... within the 6-point spread. A THIRD offensive foul call on Pitt - this time on Brad Wanamaker with about 2 minutes to go - allowed the tenacious Providence Friars, who had cut the Pitt lead to one, to actually take the lead 73-72 with just more than 2 minutes to play. And, believe it or not, a FOURTH offensive foul call on Pitt - this one fouling Brad Wanamaker out with 2 minutes to play.

An amazing 4 offensive foul calls were called on Pittsburgh in the last 6 minutes of the game, and the 10-point Pitt lead turned into a 4-point deficit in that time period, as the Friars took an improbably 76-72 lead with 1:13 to play. It should be noted that NONE of the amazing FOUR offensive foul calls against Pitt down the stretch were called by Tony Greene.

At this point, the game's outcome was in doubt... but the 6-point spread was not. Win or lose the actual game, the Providence Friars would either win outright as an underdog or get the elusive backdoor cover for its bettors.

A couple of Providence turnovers down the stretch, a couple of big Pitt buckets, and a couple of Panther free throws at the end resulted in a 83-79 Pitt win... but a Providence back-door cover considering the 6-point spread.

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