Zags, Cowboys Victimized by NCAA's Ideal Hoop Rules
Share this article
It finally happened at the Big Dance this year.
The NCAA got the sort of game it wanted. At least, it was called by the rules the NCAA imposed last autumn.
Gonzaga and Oklahoma State, on paper, looked like an even match. Both had rough patches during the season, but both looked capable of firing on all cylinders as they began the tourney as an 8-seed vs 9-seed match-up.
The highlight packaged looked innocent enough:
The story, though, was the incredible total of 61 fouls called in that game. Compare that to the fact that only 51 field goals were made. Nothing like this has been seen in the tournament since at least 1975, and it drew the expected reaction:
These responses are only partially accurate. The referees were only the dispensers of justice. The NCAA is the culprit here, as the governing body mandating the calls to be made.
Ironically, the new interpretation of incidental contact rules was implemented to improve scoring and thus make the games more entertaining.
This was the sort of game that happened early in the season, when players, coaches, and referees were supposed to be adjusting to the new interpretation. Obviously, that rarely, if ever, occurred. Now, here it is, the end of the season -- arguably when the most important games are played -- when some sort of consistency should have been settled upon as to how games are called, and the Dance experiences a game like this.
Somehow, the Zags and Cowboys -- and 66 other teams -- got through their 2013-2014 campaigns under the new interpretations and did well enough to make the tournament. An eye test of their game yesterday didn't show any discernable difference between it and every other game played in the Dance to date. Except for the whistles.
It wasn't fair for Gonzaga. It really wasn't fair for Oklahoma State. It disgraced the tournament's integrity. Most of all, it was not entertaining for the fans.
The bright lights who figured college hoops should go all Pollyanna and return to a touch-foul, juice-box-and-cookies day at the gym would be well served re-commiting to the concept that games should be decided by those who are playing it.
Watching a continuous loop of the Gonzaga - Oklahoma State game should leave no doubt that it's the right thing to do.