Folks who aren’t into basketball, turn away now, I MEAN IT. Because this is going to be a niche post for UNC hoops devotees, and you’re going to wonder why a bunch of otherwise-nice and normal-seeming people want to take a napalm flamethrower and turn Dook University into a brownfield Superfund site replete with unexploded mines.
I know that people who complain about the refs after a lost basketball game are usually childish spoilsports who don’t have the grace to acknowledge their team has a lot more problems than the officiating. I also know that people who complain about the refs after a loss also begin their diatribes “I never complain about the refs, but…”
I get all that, and I’ve always been loath to bitch about the referees for the reasons stated above, and because there’s so much else about Dook that is worthy of our disgust. But when you’ve got a game that is as evenly-matched and as close as ours was last night, it’s an established fact: the referees can dictate the winner, and often do. And last night’s refereeing was partial, unjust, inconsistent and a CLINIC of HOME COOKIN’ BULLSHIT.
I freely admit Carolina has been at the receiving end of the ref’s largesse back in Dean Smith’s day, in fact, Koach K will still lecture you about it if you’re stuck in an elevator with the man. I’ll even go out on a limb and say there were one or two questionable calls in last night’s game that went in our favor.
But the way the referees dictated the ebb and flow of the game, marring our brilliant first half with some ultimately fatal calls… oh, it just makes me want to fucking barf. Here’s just a smattering:
• Dexter Strickland, playing backup point guard because a member of our team had to go home to his mommy, has a brilliant fast break during one of our runs; Kyle Singler gets there late, slips under him for one of the most obvious fouls in basketball… but it’s called an offensive foul by the ref. Dex has to sit with three phantom fouls, which means Kendall Marshall had to guard Nolan Smith for the whole 2nd half, and our rotation is fucked.
• Tyler Zeller does the same thing on the other end of the floor; it’s called a blocking foul, and Dook gets a 3-point play. This happens over and over.
• John Henson takes the ball for a loopy left-handed running hook, and replay shows two white Dookie hands battering him TWICE en route, no call.
• Harrison Barnes gets the steal around the 3-minute mark of the first half, is intentionally fouled TWICE as he goes up for the lay-in, but no call.
• John Henson gets a great rebound, lands near the baseline. Two Dookies commence beating the SHIT out of him, karate-chopping his arms, and he moves to get away from the blows. Refs call him for traveling.
• skip to the end, when Tyler Zeller gets the ball down low. We’re down four points with 50 seconds left. He tries to shoot, but is positively HAMMERED by THREE different Dook players – one of whom pushes him in the back as he flails – and no whistle. They get the rebound, game over. If he’d gotten the call, or if he’d made it plus the foul, then we’re talking about a one-possession game.
Dook shot twice as many three pointers as us, and yet they had only 16 fouls called on them, versus 23 on us. Stat geeks call that an “anomaly”, but I call it “a hunk of burning ratshit”.
By the end, our team was so flustered and off-balance by the officiating, we had no idea what to do. Klown Kollege was not called for a one moving pick, or one push, thus turning basketball – usually a game I compare to art and ballet – into a fucking scrum. Those motherfuckers are incapable of an offensive play that doesn’t involve a stiff-arm or a hook. They grab jerseys, they hand-check, and they stall the ball after a made basket in order to get their defense set up.
And whether it’s due to racism, or reverse racism, or getting caught up in the lockstep fuckpants of Kameron Indoor Stadium, these refs helped Dook fuel a comeback, and solidified their lead straight to the end. Like I said, I’ve seen 51 of these UNC-Dook matchups and hardly ever say anything about the refs. I’m happy to admit we played the second half with low intensity, I know we missed some big shots, but this was a game decided by the officials, not the teams.
I will be at the Dook home game in March, my 26th in a row, and I will be accompanied by my 5-year-old daughter. She takes things like fairness very seriously, so if we don’t get a game called both ways consistently, they’re going to have the both of us to contend with, and she has lungs that can blanch the stripes off a zebra. Remember that, refs.