DAILY DISH: NCAA beloved for this short time





Few governing bodies are as roundly reviled as the NCAA.

Whether they’re exploiting and oppressing penniless college athletes on whose names and talent they make millions, or whether it’s clinging stubbornly to arcane standards of what it means to be an amateur, or whether they’re stubbornly denying us a football playoff so that all the fat cats in the current bowl system won’t have to skip a meal, the NCAA is always, it seems, doing something that makes the average fan want to turn his head and spit.

Except for these three weeks in March and April, when they put on the best tournament on Earth. Its slickly packaged men’s basketball tournament is accessible to all fans even to the point of letting us watch on our phones. The selection committee does a thorough and fair job, and when the demand is there, they’re flexible, whether it’s expanding the field or adapting to put second and third round games closer to the homes of higher seeds.

The NCAA is so flexible when it comes to the tournament, it even makes liberal use of instant replay, which, unfortunately has backfired and you can bet will ruin one of the 15 games remaining.

In the last two minutes of games, officials are required to review any play in which there is a question about which team touched the ball last before it went out of bounds.

The problem with this is that officiating basketball is a subjective craft, and commonly refs will award the ball to the team that touched it last because that player was fouled in the act of failing to corral the ball. If an opposing coach has a problem with this, refs will often respond, “OK, want me to call a foul on your guy instead?”

That usually shuts ‘em up.

The problem is, when you go to the monitor, there is no room for discretion. This happened at the end of the New Mexico-Stanford game, when Lobos’ center Alex Kirk was hit across the arm and knocked the ball out. The ref probably saw the foul, but as a matter of discretion, simply called it off Stanford as a compromise. Unfortunately, under review, you can’t look to see whether there was a foul, only who touched it last, and as a result, New Mexico missed a chance to get the ball back, down by 2 with 28 seconds to go.

The only time the refs are allowed to look at contact is when there is possible contact between an elbow and a player’s head. The rule states that any such contact means a Flagrant 1, two shots and the ball.

And many desperate teams trailing late, are beginning to try to exploit this overprotective rule.

The best example came at the end of the Wichita State-Kentucky game. With his team trailing by two and 20 seconds left, Wichita State’s Ron Baker took the foul to stop the clock, but along the way managed to throw his chin right in the way of the Kentucky player’s elbow.

By the letter of the law, this should have been two shots and the ball for the Shockers after the Wildcats got their double-bonus. But apparently realizing how out-of-proportion this penalty would be, the refs wilfully disregarded their orders and pretended not to see elbow meet face.

It was the right non-call, but once you start involving machines and objective fact into the officiating of a subjectively regulated game like basketball, you can bet games will be ruined.

•••

The San Pedro Flycasters Club will hold its monthly meeting on April 3. The special guest speaker will be Mike Anderson from the Arizona Game and Fish Department, who will discuss the endangered trout species of Arizona and the stocking of rainbow trout.

Members and non-members alike are invited to the meetings held at 6 p.m. at the Thunder Mountain Community Church on Golden Acres Dr. 

For more information, call Ray Ganey at (520) 458-7967.

•••

The Sierra Vista Sunrise Rotary is holding the Rising Sun Run on Saturday morning at 7:45 a.m. at the Mall at Sierra Vista.

Events are a 10k run and a 1-mile family run/walk.

The registration fee is $25 and race day registration starts at 7 a.m.

Register online at active.com.

•••

The Bisbee Adult Summer Basketball League runs from April 1 to May 29 at the Bisbee High School Gym, and prior to the start of the league season is a preseason tournament of double-elimination Friday through Sunday.

Entry fees for each five-on-five team is $200 with proceeds going to support the BHS Basketball Club for summer leagues. Arizona Interscholastic Officials will call the games, which will be 20-minute halves.

Franco is also starting up his summer youth program starting on Thursday. 

The cost is $40 per student with a family discount of $25 for the second student and $15 for a third.

For more information about the adult or youth programs, contact Franco at (520) 249-1428.

•••

Buena is starting its Middle School Development Program on Friday with games running from April 5 through May 10. The cost is $15.

Call Dave Glasgow at (520) 459-2735 for more information.

 

Registration is open between 5:30 and 6 p.m. on Friday, March 28, 9:30 to 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 29, and 5:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. from April 4.

 

Glasgow said he’ll work with players whose schedules overlap with the end of city league play.