One of the interesting things that we realized this weekend is that the ACC basically owns the Big Ten in the NCAA title game: the Big Ten hasn't won against an ACC team since Isaiah Thomas played for Bob Knight.
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In the Reagan administration. Actually, it was the day Reagan was shot. Knight and Dean Smith discussed postponing or canceling the game. Smith's suggestion: co-champs.
Duke swept through the Big Ten's Michigan State and Wisconsin this year on the way to the title.
It's just the latest in an interesting streak of dominance.
Typically, the losers have been gracious. Not so much this time.
Bo Ryan led the way with his criticisms of the officials and then carping on about "rent-a-players" in his press conference comments.
The theme was picked up on by his players.
Bronson Koenig tweeted out that he was "[t]rying to keep my chin up n all but it's a little sore, not sure why," a reference to this play. Koenig was called for the foul.
Sam Dekker said that "They got to the line and scored with the clock stopped. It felt like that's all they did in the second half was make free throws. You can't come back if they're scoring with the clock stopped."
Nigel Hayes: "It was extremely tough, especially when we felt like we were doing the golden rules for not fouling a guy driving to the rim: staying on the ground, both hands high, chest up. To still get fouls called on you was a little frustrating, and that kind of hurt us and gave them energy and ultimately we weren't able to come back from that."
Koenig again: "It's tough to stop them when they're setting hard screens like that, you're doing everything you can to show your hand. They throw something up, and they call a foul. It's pretty tough to defend that."
Hayes at least disavowed the officials-made-us-lose nonsense: "We don't look to blame anything. I missed a layup. I don't know how the hell I did that and gave up a couple layups by not switching on curls. We're not going to blame the refs or outside factors. We're going to hold ourselves accountable for plays we didn't make to help our team win."
Well maybe Hayes is. You can blame bad calls on the officials, but you can't blame your own misses on them, nor can you blame clutch scoring by your opponent.
Duke scored four straight times, including a pair of threes by Tyus Jones, and there's no way the officials had a hand in that.
There was also a question about the replay where it showed the ball going off of Justise Winslow's fingertips. It absolutely did. However, there are a couple of things we don't know.
First, we don't know what governs the decision. In other words, there is a procedure, a protocol to be followed. Presumably the officials did.
And secondly, none of us know what their video feed is. It's certainly possible that they didn't see that particular angle.
The basic fact is that while they get ripped, we don't know what the officials are actually discussing. What we have learned about officiating is how little we actually know. Remember when Chris Corchiani and Tom Gugliotta were booted from that State game? It wasn't merely the official being personal or vindictive. They were sitting near the scoreboard, remember? The officials are responsible for administering the game. Our assumption, as advised by the Playcaller, is that they were making life hard for someone at the table.
You can't have that.
Again, we completely agree that the ball was off of Winslow's fingertips. We could all see that. But what we can't see is what the officials have to reconcile and deal with as professionals. Most of us are utterly clueless about that job, except for how they affect our team.
It's a very complicated job. It's certainly possible that they were stupid enough to see the same clip everyone else saw and just said "screw it." But we're pretty sure there's another explanation.