— Sam Finley, EDN Sports Editor
Usually, I will not say that officiating was the reason for why a game was won or lost. It is true that some referees are a little better than others, but that shouldn’t decide matters as long as teams play as they’re supposed to play.
That wasn’t the case on Saturday night at Colorado, however. The Oregon men’s basketball team had the chance for another road sweep in front of them. They were tied 71-71 with mere seconds to go, and it looked like the matter would be settled in overtime.
Unfortunately for the Ducks, a rather bizzare whistle was blown and changed the scenario. It appeared that E.J. Singler had cleanly blocked a shot by Colorado guard Nate Tomlinson. Instead, a foul was inexplicably called with one second remaining.
Tomlinson went to the line and hit one free throw and that was enough for the Buffaloes to edge Oregon 72-71. Sure, that one play alone did not doom the Ducks in the end. They missed some shots that could’ve been made, etc.
Still, in all my years watching basketball, the referee usually won’t make a call in the final seconds unless someone hits the ground or takes one in the face. Anything less than that, an official will let the guys play.
That’s what should have happened here, especially when the game is deciding where teams wind up in the Pac-12 Standings. In all honesty, Colorado probably had the edge if the game had gone to OT. Singler, Tony Woods, and Olu Ashaolu were all in foul trouble late and losing one of them would’ve seriously hurt their chances of winning.
That’s not the point here. The issue is that the game was decided on a dubious whistle. It’s the type of move that cheapens the outcome of events and makes fans wonder if the sport is on the up and up.
I’m not saying that college basketball is headed the way of the WWE over this matter. (Far from it). But it’s something that the Pac-12 needs to make sure doesn’t happen again. No matter who you wanted to see win over the weekend, you have to admit that it is never a good thing when something like this occurs.
Regardless, the Ducks can’t look back on this bad call for too long. With an overall 16-7 record (7-4 in Pac-12 play), this team still has a shot at winning the conference. Failing that, they can also finish as one of the top four in the standings (guaranteeing them a first round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament).
That said, it won’t be any easy task at hand this week. Oregon has been inconsistent at home, and they will need a sweep to stay in the hunt. Considering how well Washington (who they face on Thursday) has played as of late, that’s not exactly a get-well card. Ditto for Washington State on Saturday, who can be dangerous at times.
By the same token, this is also where a good team can show what they’re made of. If the Ducks can perform well at Matt Knight Arena, then they just might begin setting up a legitimate argument for getting in the NCAA Tournament. If they don’t, it could be a struggle to make the NIT. The next few weeks should be very interesting, indeed.
Now let’s talk a little bit about the Super Bowl before I wrap this one up. As predicted here last week, the New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots 21-17. Okay, so I was off on the score (I said the G-Men would take it 28-24), but it otherwise went as I thought it would go.
You’ve got to tip your hat to Eli Manning. For years, he’s been doubted and has lived in the shadow of his brother Peyton. At the end of the day, however, he’s won two Super Bowls and has been named the MVP in both of them.
Now, you can legitimately argue that his big bro (when healthy) is still a much better quarterback. But how can you not say that Eli is now one of the best signal callers in the NFL today? If this latest win doesn’t give him that deserved recognition in your eyes, I don’t know what will.
Over on the Patriots’ side, I’ve heard some post-game murmurs that this loss has ‘diminished’ Tom Brady’s legacy as one of the best quarterbacks of all-time. Diminished? How? The guy has started in five Super Bowls and has won three of them.
Furthermore, saying that this setback ruins his overall body of work implies that Brady won’t ever play in another one of these games again. For the record, I see him getting back to the Super Bowl at least one more time. If he wins that one, it’ll mean taking four out of six tries.
Even if he doesn’t, Brady has still established himself as one of the top ten quarterbacks of all time. ‘Nuff said.
Oh, not quite. Someone asked me who I believe are the top five quartebacks I’ve ever seen play. Well, here’s my list: 5) Tom Brady. 4) Dan Marino. 3) Dan Fouts. 2) Joe Montana. 1) John Elway.
I know that list won’t make a lot of folks happy, and I’ll clarify my rankings on of these days. Unfortunately, I’ve run out of time and word space.
So until next time, I’ll see you in the bleachers.