by: Aaron Marks
The Final Four was fantastic. It lived up to almost all of it's expectations and now we can all look forward to what may be an instant championship classic between Louisville and Michigan.After thoroughly enjoying the games on Saturday night, I did have a slightly bad taste in my mouth with the way each game ended.
I'm not sure the outcome would've differed either way, but if these rules weren't in place then it would've given both losing teams a shot at victory in the final minute.
- Held balls and the possession arrow need to go. At the end of the Wichita State vs. Louisville game the Cardinals missed a critical free throw that would have made it a two possession game. Down three with about ten seconds to go, the Shockers pulled down the rebound. Luke Hancock made his final, and weakest, contribution to the win when he reached around Ron Baker and got his hand on the ball for approximately 0.5 seconds. The whistle blew, a held ball was called, and Louisville had the possession arrow. They would not miss the free throws on their next go around and that would seal the victory.
Here's the problem with the call last night, and you'll notice a theme of consistency in this article. IT WAS THE RIGHT CALL. And that, my friends, is the problem. The possession arrow/held ball call has no place in college basketball. Things like that happen all the time with youth and high school players. Having a jump ball every time would get so redundant games would take three hours to play, so they must use a possession arrow at that level. But not in college. If a ball is tied up, and I mean truly tied up with both players having a legitimate claim of possession, then blow the whistle and jump it up at the free throw line NBA style. I'm tired of seeing teams strategize that if they can just get a hand on the ball, a held ball will be called and they have the possession arrow. It's a terrible call. It has no place in the game. And if the refs were more likely to let it play out because Baker obviously had possession last night, then we would've gotten to see what Wichita did down three as time expired.
- Charging vs. Blocking needs to be modified. There was less than a minute to go and Syracuse trailed Michigan by two. Brandon Triche drove the wide open lane and went up for a game tying lay up when Michigan's Jordan Morgan slid in his path. He started the slide as Triche went up and completed it (debatable) right as Triche made contact with him.
Again, here's the problem. According to the College Rules... it was a charge, the foul was called on Triche, shot was no good, and Michigan now had the chance to seal the victory. The difference between this and the Louisville game, Michigan only extended their lead to three so Syracuse actually got another shot to tie the game or pull within one. They were unsuccessful in doing this so any Syracuse fan complaining about the charge affecting the outcome needs to shut it. But the bottom line is...this rule needs to be changed. Like going after a ball to get your hand on it and thus force a turnover... I hate that players can be taught that if they are within three feet of a guy going to the hoop they can slide in front of him even after he's airborne and draw a foul. Charging should be running through a player who has established himself defensively. I thought that was the rule... but apparently it's got some gray area that shouldn't even be there. Once again... the NCAA needs to look to the NBA on this one.
Ultimately, I think we got the championship game everyone wanted; except for Syracuse and Wichita fans of course. But to the fan who's bracket was busted a week or more ago and has no ties to the states of Kansas, New York, Kentucky, or Michigan... this is the game we all wanted.
Wichita is a great story and even I was pulling for the underdog last night. Plus one of my best friends graduated from there so I am a Shocker by association. But as my sports update anchor, Heidi, said the other day, we don't want Wichita State vs. Michigan.
We want Ali vs. Frazier.
We want Magic vs. Bird.
And what we got was Beilein vs. Pitino. Future Hall of Famer vs. Hall of Fame inductee. AP Player of the Year vs. The overall number one seed of the tournament.
And despite the Madness, that is how the tournament is supposed to end. Hopeful that neither of these rules affect the outcome of this one and looking forward to an outstanding title game.