Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Curtis Shaw Effect

Back to the chronicles of Tony Greene when ITGOTT has more time, but an officiating incident must be noted from last night's little-seen Conference USA game in Greenville, NC, between the homestanding East Carolina Pirates and the visiting UTEP Miners, coached by former big-time (Iowa State, Southern Cal, and the NBA) coach Tim Floyd.

Floyd, who, given his previous stops, probably feels like he's slumming it in rural eastern North Carolina, was ejected in what the usually-spot-on blog Ballin Is A Habit called "one of the uglier incidents" of the college basketball season, when he was ejected by Jeb Hartness. The low-quality video, and the commentary of Ballin Is A Habit, is linked here:

Here's why this is significant:

1. While the video doesn't show what Tim Floyd did to earn the first technical from Jeb Hartness, we see veteran official Steven Pyatt working to both reclaim the control that Hartness's call had removed and to calm an irate Tim Floyd. Then, as Floyd voices his frustration to Hartness as the technical free throws are administered, Hartness T's Floyd up again and runs him, clearly inciting more difficulty in a situation where it wasn't necessary. Then to top it off, the incensed UTEP assistant Phil Johnson is ALSO run. The video also shows that Steven Pyatt (working with another veteran, Bryan Kersey) position themselves between the UTEP coaches and Jeb Hartness, in what looks like an unstated message of, "Yeah, we know he messed up, but guys, just let it go..."

2. So who is Jeb Hartness? Well, we know two things.

First, from the video, we know that he appears, at least last night, to be a small man who takes umbrage at petty grievances - especially by coaches who are relatively well-known (Floyd is probably THE most well-known coach in Conference USA) - and then demonstrates that he is in charge by issuing quick, unnecessary technical fouls that do more to incite the ire of a coach than to calm an overheating in-game situation or elicit a higher level of game decorum.

Second, we know that Jeb Hartness is a relatively young official who is working his way up through the ranks to the highest levels of college basketball officiating. He has worked more games in the Ohio Valley Conference than any other conference, the conference where Curtis Shaw had been the game assignor until Shaw took the position of Director of Officials for the Big XII Conference this season. Guess what? Hartness has, for the first time, been working Big XII games. The inimitable Curtis Shaw apparently takes care of his own.

And by demonstrating rabbit ears, a thin skin, a need to visibly demonstrate his control in a game where restraint would have been better served, and issuing unnecessary technical fouls that incite problems rather than restore order, Jeb Hartness has proven that he's not only one of Curtis Shaw's "own," but that he's cut from the same unfortunate mold.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Game 51 - Tennessee @ #18 Kentucky - February 8, 2011

Game - Tennessee @ #18 Kentucky - Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Line - Kentucky -9 1/2

Result - Kentucky wins 73-61 and covers the spread

Tony Greene is confounding. Although a series of calls in the first half would have CONVINCED a viewer that the crew working tonight's game - including Tony Greene, Ted Valentine, and Mark Whitehead - were totally in the bank for Tennessee, when it came to crunch time and calls COULD have tipped the spread to Tennessee without affecting the outcome, the officials stood down and allowed the game to (apparently) end without interference.

To wit:

The Charge/Block Call. It Can Go Either Way So Make Sure It Goes Your Way

Make Calls From Out Of Position

So TWICE early in the game - with about 13 to play in the first half, and with 11 1/2 minutes to play in the first half - Tony Greene did BOTH of these things. TWICE !!! It's almost hard to believe, but within 90 seconds, Tony Greene TWICE stepped in from out of position to whistle a Kentucky player for a questionable charge.

Further, with 7:43 to play in the first half, Ted Valentine did the SAME THING, but this time he stepped in, drew attention to himself as only TV Teddy can do, and called Kentucky for a terrible - and I mean truly terrible - blocking foul. In fact, during his SEC-contract-mandated in-game interview with ESPN's Shannon Spake during the ensuing time-out, Kentucky coach John Calipari backhandedly criticized Valentine's absurd call by saying that what his team needed to do to be successful was to continue to "take charges" like they just did. A good laugh, and well-played, Coach Calipari.

Watching the game, ITGOTT was convinced that this officiating crew - if they were, in fact, "on the take" - was in the bag for Tennessee.

Yet, as Kentucky's huge 19-point first half lead dwindled to just 5 after halftime, and then ballooned back up to double digits to cover the spread, the officials didn't seem to do anything out the ordinary. No late calls to tip the spread to Tennessee. No questionable calls to alter the momentum. No calls from out of position. Not even any terrible calls, Mark Whitehead's ludicrous blocking call on Kentucky's DeAndre Liggins with about 12 minutes to play in the game and with the Wildcats leading by 16... hardly "crunch time". It was strange, and while the officials did NOT appear, in the end, to tip the spread or ultimately be "on the take," it certainly raised two important questions:

1. If Tony Greene is NOT "on the take," is he just a TERRIBLE official?

2. Must TV Teddy Valentine always preen and draw attention to himself with his officiating?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Game 39 - Auburn @ Mississippi State - January 15, 2011

Game - Auburn @ Mississippi State - Sunday, January 16, 2011

Line - Mississippi State -10 1/2

Result - Mississippi State wins and covers easily, 85-66

Just like yesterday's game, we saw an obvious, heavy favorite get off to a great start and sprint to an easy victory, and easy cover. Mississippi State is just a far better team, especially at home in Starkville, than Auburn. Frankly, this was an easy call and not a very interesting game to watch.

When Helping A Big Favorite, Get Off To A Good Start

The officiating crew of Tony Greene, Antinio Petty, and Mike Nance wasted no time making sure Mississippi State, a double-digit favorite, spurted to an early lead when the game was just 2-0 and Antinio Petty called the always-there-but-rarely-called moving screen on Auburn's Josh Langford just 90 seconds into the game. The moving screen is a GREAT call for an official, or an officiating crew, on the take because it occurs away from the ball and most eyes are not focused there, rather focusing on the ball. Further, the physical nature of interior play in college basketball dictates that screens move often... they just aren't called often. But Antinio Petty, working with Tony Greene, called one here.

Then with Mississippi State leading 4-2 early, Tony Greene steps in with the always-fun and always-momentum-swinging "and one" play, which Dee Bost converted to extend the Bulldog lead to 7-2.

Then with the Bulldogs leading 9-3, Tony Greene calls ANOTHER "and one" call, this time converted by the Bulldogs' Kodi Augustus. Dave Neal, working for the SEC Network, openly questions the call, but it doesn't matter. Mississippi State is, as they say, much the best, and quickly that 9-3 lead is a 22-3 lead, and the Bulldogs cruise to an 85-66 victory, easily covering the 10 1/2 point spread.