INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana - It's an impossible job, but anyone who has ever decided to become a ref' realizes this reality. They cannot win, nor are they in the business of winning. They are there merely to make sure whomever does win did it clean.
The final seconds of the Tennessee-Michigan Sweet 16 NCAA Midwest Regional game once again brought to light the role of officiating, and whether the end of the game should determine whether "it's a foul."
With a little less than 10 seconds remaining and the Volunteers trailing by one point, forward Jarnell Stokes tried to back down Michigan's Jordan Morgan. Morgan looked like he beat Stokes to the spot, was set, and Stokes barreled over him. Referee David Hall made the call - offensive foul, turnover - and Michigan held on to win by two points to advance to the Elite 8.
I asked Stokes whether he thought he fouled Morgan. No real shock here:
"I don’t think I fouled him, but it was a smart play for him to try to take the charge,” Stokes said. “He pretty much anticipated it.”
And, surprise, Morgan thought he was in the right place at the right time.
“I know he likes to play bully ball. I like to take charges. It’s what I do,” he said.
Replays showed it looked Hall made the correct call.
The part you hate is that a ref' was in the middle of a play that directly impacted the final score, thus interfering with the sacred, "Let the players decide the game."
In fairness to the ref', it's a play that likely would have been called a foul at any other point in the game. If it's going to be called 10 seconds into the game, it has to be called with 10 seconds remaining in the game.
Facebook Mac Engel