Fouls be fouls

Got one!

Andy Katz reports that the head of NCAA officiating, John Adams, plans to place an emphasis on officials calling fouls on plays in which a foul has occurred, regardless of the time during the game at which the play takes place.  Katz summarizes Adams' approach to the issue:

Adams has been trying to rid college basketball officiating of the culture of not wanting to upset coaches. The officials don't want to create winning and losing situations. As far as Adams is concerned, if a player commits a foul, he has decided the game, not the official. He said he doesn't understand the statement that the officials are "letting them play."

And a direct quote from Adams, talking specifically about Miles Plumlee hanging on the rim in the national championship game:

"That's the rule, that's a technical," Adams said. "The press reacted to it that they don't need to call it. But why should Curtis [Shaw] not enforce a rule? If it's a bad rule, then change the rule."

Concise version of my reaction: Amen!

Adams' comments were based in part on conversations he had with the head coaches of each of the four teams appearing in this year's Final Four.  Tom Izzo had an inordinate amount of experience with no-calls in the final seconds of games this past season.  The unwritten rule that fouls don't get called in the final seconds benefited MSU in conference play against Minnesota and Michigan (more clearly--although not definitively*--in the second case than in the first), but cost the team against Butler in the national semifinals when Draymond Green didn't get the benefit of a foul call after Gordon Hayward made contact with Green's elbow as Green was taking a shot that would have given MSU the lead in the final seconds of the game.

It's easy to reconstruct the hypothetical results of those games under the officiating approach Adams plans to emphasize in the future, but the reality is that the games referenced above were played under an expectation that physical contact in the final seconds was unlikely to be whistled by the officials.  We don't know how the MSU defenders would have reacted in the final seconds of the Minnesota and Michigan games under different circumstances.  And we don't know how Hayward would have played Green's shot in Indianapolis (or if the shot would have gone in absent the contact, or if Butler would have scored going the other way, etc., etc.) under a different set of expectations about the officiating.

What's done is done.  Going forward, placing an emphasis on calling fouls fouls whenever they occur should create more predictable expectations for players and decrease, at least slightly, the amount of mental anguish experienced by fans of teams that end up the wrong side of close finishes.

*Sims initiated some of the contact himself.  Not clear a foul on Summers would have been a shooting foul.

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