In her 2000 film review, Washington Post critic Rita Kempley wrote “A million monkeys with a million crayons would be hard-pressed in a million years to create anything as cretinous as ‘Battlefield Earth.’”
Along those lines, how putrid was the officiating during Monday night’s Kansas-Iowa State overtime game? Let’s just hand out some crayons and call it Battlefield Ames.
Curtis Shaw, the Big 12’s supervisor of officials, said the league would review the performances of Tom O’Neill, Mark Whitehead and Bert Smith, and anything less than a suspension would be light.
Well, here’s what the league announced Tuesday afternoon, a cryptic and murky comment that fails to spell out specific consequences for the crew:
The Big 12 Conference acknowledges that officiating errors were made at the end of regulation during last night’s Kansas at Iowa State men’s basketball game. The plays have been reviewed and appropriate measures will be taken by the Coordinator of Men’s Basketball Officials to adjust the number of future assignments for the two officials involved in conjunction with Conference policies.
The officiating crew committed a series of gaffes — including with 23 seconds left in regulation, mistakenly assigning a foul to Kevin Young that obviously should have been the fifth charged to Kansas center Jeff Withey. The Jayhawks 7-footer actually walked toward his bench after intentionally fouling Korie Lucious in the backcourt, but from a few steps away Young raised his hand and fooled the refs. (Brent Musburger’s take on the ESPN broadcast: “I mean, Jeff Withey thinks, ‘Look what I found! I’m in the NBA tonight. I got the six-foul rule!”)
The most debated and egregious officiating error came during the possession on which Kansas’ Elijah Johnson tied the game with 4.3 seconds left. The point guard not only ran over ISU’s Georges Niang, waiting in perfect defensive position a step outside the charge arc, but then Johnson collected the missed rebound while lying atop Niang on the floor (his right hand apparently out of bounds). Next came a questionable holding foul on Niang as he and Young tangled.
ESPN color commentator Fran Frischilla offered some blunt criticism: “This was either a block or a charge. That has to be called. That has to be called in that situation. Don’t tell me that the players decide the game. He decided it by stepping in.”
“I think (Niang was) solid, and I think that’s a charge. But more importantly the official must blow his whistle and call it either a block or a charge. There’s no excuse for letting that much contact go on a play like that.”
Kansas subsequently won 108-96 in OT and Johnson finished with 39 points — 12 coming after his collision with Niang. Let’s see what sort of transparency the Big 12 displays in addressing this matter, if indeed we learn anything further about the “future assignments” for the Battlefield Ames refs.
1. Kansas (24-4, 12-3)
2. Oklahoma State (20-6, 10-4)
3. Kansas State (23-5, 12-3)
4. Iowa State (19-9, 9-6)
5. Oklahoma (18-8, 9-5)
6. Baylor (16-11, 7-7)
7. West Virginia (13-14, 6-8)
8. Texas (12-15, 4-10)
9. Texas Tech (9-17, 2-13)
10. TCU (10-17, 1-13)
The top five teams above are comfortably in the field today, and the Cyclones and Sooners would need to lose out to squander their bids.
WHO’S ON THE BUBBLE?
Though Baylor was picked second in the Big 12 preseason poll, the Bears have been maddeningly inconsistent and aren’t currently worthy of an at-large bid at No. 61 in the RPI. Home games against K-State and Kansas can help the rating, though not if Baylor stumbles in its road games at WVU and Texas.