I assume most of you were at work today and didn’t get to catch the second round Big East tournament game between Rutgers and St. John’s at 2 pm. Well if you missed this game, you missed one of the worst officiating mishaps in quite some time. Allow me to explain.
Rutgers, trailing by two with 4.9 seconds remaining, heaved the ball past mid-court. The pass was tipped and then picked up by St. John’s senior Justin Brownlee. The game appeared to be over, but if you check out the video below, it shouldn’t have been. Brownlee dribbled the ball up court and, with about 1.7 seconds left on the clock, clearly stepped out-of-bounds (right in front of referee Jim Burr no less). Not only did Brownlee clearly step out-of-bounds, he also traveled. No call was made, the clock ran out and as you can see in the video, the referees didn’t stick around to discuss the call.
First off, don’t give me the “it’s just 1.7 seconds” line. They would have had the ball just in front of mid-court and had plenty of time for a catch and shoot opportunity. Second, I am aware that Rutgers only chance to make the NCAA tournament is by winning the Big East tournament (which was highly unlikely, even with a win today), but that is besides the point. The point of that rule is to give teams one last shot at making the field of 64… err I mean 65… wait 68… wait is it 96 yet?
Anyways, Rutgers was deprived of their fair shot. Not only that, but by denying Rutgers what could have been one additional win, the officials effectively denied the Scarlet Knights a shot at the NIT (teams need to be .500 to get in). Just the NIT you say? Tell that to those kids who would have had more games on national television and more chances to improve a struggling basketball program that is having trouble gaining traction in the 16 (or 17 or 18 once TCU joins) team Big East.
I’ve heard differing opinions on whether or not this was a reviewable play, but the footage of the refs bolting for the locker rooms before the coaches even shook hands was shameful and telling at the same time. Congrats Big East! You have managed to move up one more notch on my Suck-O-Meter. You are now situated directly above people who dress their pets and just below the Boston Red Sox.