Home team calls? How about call. We wouldn’t necessarily agree with Fran Fraschilla’s assertion that 4 or 5 non calls down the stretch aided St. John’s and hurt Rutgers University a little while ago on the floor of Madison Square Garden in the 2nd round of the Big East Tournament. Fraschilla has a bit of Lavin/St. John’s envy. That’s understandable. After all, the guy was Lavin once upon a time, the hot new St. John’s coach who restored the program to glory and recruited with gusto, until he allegedly pulled his pants down in front of the team in the locker room, during a speech about how the team needed to show more balls. We kid you not.
Fraschilla is a local guy from Marine Park, and he did a fine job, until the Reverend Harrington found out about the inappropriate tirade and dismissed him. Fraschilla is a classless version of Lavin, obviously, and while he was awarding calls to Rutgers down the stretch left and right, while feeling sorry for himself. Was Frashcilla correct that the refs put their whistles away and stopped officiating the game? Yes he was. But the only clearly one sided non call was the one on Brownlee who clearly went out of bounds with 1.7 seconds left. In a perfect world, the refs spot that straight away, re-set the clock to 1.7 and let Rutgers inbound the ball and attempt to run a play.
Guess what? The world’s not perfect. People are crying about the great injustice of this, when it happens almost monthly in the NFL, and at best, the unlucky loser gets an acknowledgement from the league that a call was blown a few days after the incident. Well, Rutgers got something a little better than that then. NCAA Head of Officials John Adams called the end of game sequence “unacceptable” a mere hour after the game was finished. So there you go, Scarlet Knights’ fans. Enjoy the fruits of that bounty.
Obviously, St. John’s was lucky to win this game. The Johnnies blew a 10 point lead down the stretch, fell behind a point with about a minute to go, got huge free throw makes from Dwight Hardy and Sean Evans, along with a costly Hardy turnover which gave Rutgers a chance to take the lead in the final seconds. St. John’s got a stop and a rebound, got a make and a miss at the line from Brownlee, and then Rutgers threw the ball in from under their rim to around half court, where Fraschilla wanted a ridiculous over the back call on Hardy. Right. Like Rutgers had established position on 50′ pass that was essentially a jump ball. Fraschilla called for 4 or 5 over the back fouls on St. John’s in the final 17 seconds alone. No way. And Hardy, on his final shot from the field had drawn clear contact, but got no whistle. The officials wanted to let the kids play it out, which we clearly get. That worked for and against St. John’s until the final 2 seconds, when it clearly worked for St. John’s.
We’ll take it. Did Lavin do the greatest job on earth down the stretch? No. He did a poor job. Though he ran a play that got Hardy to the free throw line out of a timeout for the final lead, Lavin took a very curious posture when he sent Rutgers to the line to shoot rather than giving them an opportunity to tie the game. He had a 3 point lead, and with a defensive club, a persona predicated on defense, you let your defense close out the game. What if Rutgers makes the 1st, gets an offensive board, which they got at will all 2nd half, and then cans a 3? They get out with the win. Also, it’s the job of Lavin and staff to prep the team for the final seconds. With 5.5 to go, they are in a timeout, and they have to be coached up on playing through the final buzzer. What Brownlee did, going out of bounds with no court or clock awareness, and then flinging the ball up to the rafters, was disgusting.
You know we love Lavin, but like he says, responsibility rests with him. If that was a Herb Brooks team, they’d be skating right now. But there’s a silver lining. The team will be on its best behavior for tomorrow’s Garden rematch with Syracuse, and they’ll need to be sharp. Today’s slopfest should ensure that St. John’s has the right mindset tomorrow at 2 PM.
Sorry if we aren’t going to cry for Rutgers. We like their coach, Mike Rice. He prepares his team. We were lucky to beat them at Carneseca and lucky again today. We rooted hard for Seton Hall yesterday because to us, that represented the much easier game. Rice’s kids play defense, and the guy has a good attitude. Minutes after the game in interviews, he wasn’t crying or badmouthing the officials. He said he refused to cry over things he had no control over, like officiating. Rice knows in the big picture, that Rutgers hasn’t done anything yet to warrant any special treatment, like the ridiculous notion that they should put 2 ticks on the clock and bring the teams back out to finish the game.
The Big East already acknowledged that there were 2 separate blown calls at the end of that game. And that since play wasn’t initially stopped, the play was not “reviewable” or “correctable.” Only if the officials had stopped Brownlee and St. John’s from running off the court could they have gone to the video review. Ho hum. No tears for Rutgers. Bad calls happen all the time. Officials who make enough bad calls could get pulled from the tournament officiating rotation. That’s the most that will happen here, if that.
We respect Rutgers’ efforts and class today. But it was doubtful they’d have gotten it done with 1.7 to play anyway. We’re more concerned with avenging the Syracuse loss and shutting up that moron Scoop Jardine. So we’ll give Lavin, Hardy, and Brownlee a pass for their parts in today’s chaos, as long as they do better tomorrow.
Now let’s go Redmen!