Look, bad calls happen. They happen all the time. Some are bigger than others and in the end they usually even out. But what happened yesterday was just atrocious. It was a collective "F-U, WE'RE GOING TO DECIDE THIS GAME" from the refs in an otherwise fun and exciting game - one where the Boilers showed a ton of heart and resiliency in coming back from a big deficit. While the flagrant-1 on DJ Byrd got all the press, the officiating in the first half was simply horrible. And while most of the second half could at least been labelled as "even", it all went downhill in the last minute of regulation.
|And the Oscar goes to...Darrun Hilliard!|
- Jay Wright (Villanova's head coach) said he didn't see it and that he doesn't like the rule.
- Len Elmore (a pretty well-respected announcer) said "I STRONGLY disagree with that call" about a dozen times.
- James Bell (the guy who was 1-8 from 3-point range in regulation that all the sudden went off with two huge overtime 3's) mentioned, "I didn't see it, but I have to think the officials made the right call."
It was a flop. Plain and simple. Did Byrd touch him? Possibly. It's tough to tell, but if he did touch him, he grazed Hilliard's chin with his tricep. Hilliard's head instinctively jerked back to avoid the contact. Then, when seen on slow motion, his head actually moved forward again. At that point he realized that he could draw a foul and fell to the floor. I doubt that he was even thinking flagrant-1 while he was on the floor...he was just excited that he had drawn the foul. If you get hit in the head hard enough to fall down, your head doesn't jerk back into place after the initial contact...it immediately goes back and takes the body with it. So was it a foul? If he grazed his chin, then technically, yes. But Brian O'Connell, Bo Boroski, and Bert Smith made a mockery of the replay. And that's why instead of feeling the joy of a great win today, it has been replaced with shock, disbelief, and a feeling that this is going to haunt us come March.
I wrote down a few notes during the game that I wanted to talk about after Purdue won. Well, they didn't, but that doesn't mean these things still didn't happen:
|Brian O'Connell - probably the worst of the three "officials" last night|
- Free throw shooting was once again horrendous. 16-28 (57%) is not going to cut it, especially when the Wildcats shoot 33-41 (81%). But boy was Villanova streaky from the line. They started 12-14, then missed 5 consecutive free throws (including the front end of 2 one and ones) right when the Boilers made their run. They then made 21 of their next 22 free throws. Folks, that's how you win a game.
- I don't even want to put this point down, because the final possession in regulation (a forced air ball by Ronnie Johnson as the shot clock expired) was so miserable. Why we were running down the clock in a tie game where Villanova was guaranteed to get the ball back was just mind-boggling. Prior to that, however, the Boilers did something that I haven't seen from them in a long time. They created shots with the lead in the last 3 minutes! They didn't hold the ball! Ronnie Johnson created and drained a wide open 15-footer with 15 seconds left in the shot clock and just under 3:00 to go. Then, with 1:30 left, Terone Johnson found a wide-open DJ Byrd under the basket for an uncontested layup. I don't remember the last time Purdue attacked late in the game with the lead, but let's hope the trend continues.
- Loved seeing the "Purdue" band consisting of a bunch of 15-year-olds playing what I think was "Hot Cross Buns". They were young, probably didn't know where Purdue was located, and were much more "diverse" than what you'd expect from a Midwestern school in the middle of corn fields. But hey, they got a free t-shirt and cheered for Purdue, so thanks for representing! Now bring "home" a win tonight - we really need it!