OT: Refs

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One thing that limits my excitement for most sports these days is the impact that the refs have on the outcome. The human factor has always been a necessary evil in just about every team sport. To be honest, as I get older, I find it detracting from my enjoyment of the games more and more. The reality is that reffing is often pretty bad. And, even when it is just slightly imperfect, it can still determine the outcome of close games. That bothers me and I have a hard time just letting it go.

It can take on many forms. The best case is that the refs are just imperfect to some degree. They just blow a few to a lot of calls. The next level is that the refs, while fair, call the game in a way that favors one style over another. One crew can favor finesse while the next favors a more physical game, for example. And then you have refs that are subconsciously biased. They try to call a fair game but the inevitably favor certain teams (Duke men's basketball and ND women's basketball, for example). Then you have your blatantly conciously biased refs (for or against). The refs in the Iowa game come to mind. And do you remember Valentine's hatred of Calhoun? At it's worst, refs can be, and have been, flat out corrupt.

When two teams are closely matched and/or play very different styles, the refs can and will determine the outcome of games. The better team simply doesn't always win and my desire for fairness makes that tough to accept. There is no better example where this has played out as much as it has in the UConn/ND women's rivalry.

In today's game, played AT ND, UConn was called for 18 fouls and ND was called for 18 fouls. ND shot 24 FTs and UConn shot 20 FTs. UConn won by 18 points.

Relative to last year, UConn lost far more talent and Geno is starting a freshman, which is very rare for him. They are only going 6 deep. In last year's final four game, UConn was called for 18 fouls and ND was called for 11 fouls. ND shot 23 FTs and UConn shot 6 FTs. UConn lost by 2 in OT on a neutral floor.

It is hard for me to dismiss the fact that ND was called for 7 more fouls and UConn went to the line 14 more times. As bad as that looks on the surface, the impact is much worse. UConn is a superior team with more skill that plays a finesse game. The difference between these two games is that, last year, ND was allowed to mug our players when they drove to the basket. Eventually, after several turnovers and missed shots, players stop driving and the offense becomes one dimensional. So, really, in a case like this, the way the refs called the game last year was a 1-2 punch. It is too much to overcome when the teams are closely matched.

Some people say that the FT differential was caused by our players not driving but the opposite was true. They stop driving because the fouls weren't called. More evidence? Earlier last season the two teams met in CT. At that game (same players since it was the same season) UConn was called for 12 fouls and ND was called for 16. ND shot 11 FTs and UConn shot 18. It is amazing that from December to March, our team managed to forget how to draw fouls.

Sorry, but, our girls got screwed last year and it sucks. And it has happened before, several times. In fact, it was worse in the past. There were a lot of refs that I always suspected hated Geno for being a success in "their game".

This doesn't just apply to UConn/ND. It applies to all team sports and has affected every team in every sport multiple times.
 

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