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2.06.2006

Philosophy of officiating 

I think that not materially penalizing a team for personal conduct infractions that occur while play is dead is a pretty sound principle of officiating. It follows that I believe that the penalty accompanying a technical foul -- one free throw in the NBA, one free throw plus possession (?) in NCAA ball is a terrible penalty, and that counting a technical foul as a personal foul in NCAA ball is an even more unfair penalty still. The purpose of a technical foul should be to censure a player, and nothing more.

(Yes, I know that two technicals result in ejection, which does materially affect a game. Some limit is necessary; the point is that T's should not be treated the same as in-play fouls. And I don't mind if these sorts of fouls are called for in-play infractions, like delay of game or illegal defense in the NBA, or unnecessary roughness in football.)

I bring this up because the ACC recently suspended the officials who refereed the Duke-Florida State contest for one game because they incorrectly called a technical foul on Florida State's Alexander Johnson. Johnson mugged Duke player Shelden Williams on a layup attempt. Johnson was correctly assessed an intentional foul. Williams then shoved Johnson in retaliation while Johnson backed away, and technical fouls were called on both players. The technical foul on Johnson counted as his fifth foul, disqualifying him from the game.

The underlying problem here is not that the referees used poor judgment in assessing a technical on Johnson, as the referees can't really be blamed for acting quickly to defuse a heated situation. The problem is that the accompanying penalty did not just reprimand Johnson; it affected the outcome of the game. The NCAA needs to extricate these three officials from underneath the bus and get rid of these penalties accompanying the technical foul.

Comments:

How should a technical foul be punished without affecting the outcome of the game? That's the only really effective deterrent. If the game isn't affected, you'll have more situations like John Chaney sending in the goon for Temple last year and breaking that kid's arm. If they could get away with it, Duke's opponents would be laying all kinds of hits on Redick in every dead ball.

Besides, the ACC suspended these officials for the wrong reason. The game wasn't shown in my part of the country, but I'm sure it must have been Johnson who shoved Williams and kicked him in the nuts after the intentional foul.

NCAA technical foul used to be two free throws plus possession. It's still two free throws, but they may have changed the possession rule. I'm not sure on that.
 


Assessing points or disqualifying a player is completely unfair for first incidents of things like arguing with an official, hanging on the rim, mild post-whistle pushing and shoving of the type of which Johnson was accused, etc.

If guys start whacking JJ Redick of their own volition after the whistle, a T without points is sufficient deterrent, and the refs will eject anybody who does it again. I wouldn't mind a personal foul or free throws being awarded in such a case though. If they're doing it under coach's orders, or if it's truly heinous, free throws probably aren't sufficient deterrent anyway, and a long suspension and further NCAA or university sanctions are warranted.

The FSU-Duke game wasn't on here, but I saw the ESPN replay of the incident when they announced that the refs had been suspended, so you'll just have to believe me.
 


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