Houston-South Florida Sheds Light on Officiating

Ken Cross

January 21, 2019 at 3:10 pm.

Saturday night’s 69-60 Houston Cougars’ win over the South Florida Bulls was more than a grind. It was an eternity.

This may have been an exclamation point on a bad week for officials in the American Athletic Conference as this game lasted 2 hours and 29 minutes with 62 combined fouls and 76 combined trips to the line.

“To be honest with you, there probably could have been 20 more fouls called,” said South Florida coach Brian Gregory. “Guys are bigger and stronger in college than they have ever been. They have talked about widening the lane, lifting the three-point line to the international level and shortening the shot clock. Would those make the flow better? It might.”

The play was fractured so badly by continuous whistles that neither team could get any rhythm on offense or defense.

Gregory and Cougars coach Kelvin Sampson took turns airing their differences on the calls to the officiating crew of Sean Casady, Chuck Jones and Rick Randall – and rightfully so.

It was an inconsistently officiated game on both ends of the floor that saw the referees ignore obvious contact, then blow whistles that had more chins dropping than shooting averages.

“Aesthetically, this wasn’t a very good game for people to watch,” said Sampson who saw his No. 21 Cougars go to 18-1 and 5-1 in the AAC. “I feel bad they had to watch that. Two teams playing hard and competing. Our depth was a big factor for us tonight.  We just had enough bodies to get through.”

Neither coach was interested in pointing directly at the officials as we are in the middle of league play and there’s potential for suspension.

Saturday night’s game came on the heels of a Tuesday night ejection of Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin, who said he was ejected for throwing his hands up in the air and yelling, “Why?” after he was hit with the first technical foul for an expletive.

It was the fiery Cronin’s first ejection of his career and left him equally as angry in the postgame press conference. He took a different angle as he pointed at the officiating crew of Lee Cassell, Mark Schnur and William Covington and then relayed why he thinks nothing will change or has ever changed in terms of holding officials to speed.

“There’s no accountability and it’s never going to change because they’re independent contractors,” he said. “So if one guy decides he wants to be a certain way, nothing will happen. They just go about their business and do what they do.”

Then on Wednesday, referee Pat Adams got into the mix when he ejected UConn coach Danny Hurley and Tulsa’s Frank Haith after serving them one technical foul each for their back-and-forth on the sidelines during the game.

Adams posted that the ejections came as the two coaches walked toward each other to try to shake hands.

Haith called it “competitive banner” as both teams and coaches were stunned at Adams’ ruling. Hurley thought that the officials handled the situation wrong, especially with the ejections as Adams, and clearly didn’t have a handle on the fact that the two coaches were trying to make things right after the exchange.

Adams is one of several college basketball referees who shows up in the arena and draws attention to himself with demonstrative theatrics. He spends way more time at a TV monitor than he should especially late in games on obvious calls.

He was back at it again on Saturday after whistling Cincinnati’s Jarron Cumberland and Wichita State’s Erik Stevenson with a double technical foul late in the game. Shockers coach Gregg Marshall went after Oladis Poole and Marques Pettigrew before lighting into Adams, who whistled a technical foul on Marshall.

At that point, the Wichita State’s assistant coaches had to hold Marshall back off of the floor which probably saved him an ejection.

The trio who called the South Florida-Houston game clearly didn’t have any chemistry and very little communication. There was no set leadership on the floor as there was no obvious signg as to who was the lead official on the crew.

Coaches can only say so much before potential discipline is handed down by the league offices.

“It was a long game and sometimes the way we shoot free throws makes it even longer,” said Gregory. “I am sure there is some of the rules committee stuff, things out there they are looking at. It is kind of a trend right now around college basketball.”