It’s not going to make Auburn fans feel any better, but former NFL and NCAA referee Gene Steratore talked after the game as to why the referees missed the double dribble violation in the waning seconds of last night’s NCAA semifinal between Auburn and Virgina.
Steratore called it an “unusual” play – and he rightly pointed out that initially nobody else caught it either. This bring us to the old adage among referees to “expect the unexpected”. Most of what top level referees see on the court after thousands of experiences are situations that repeat themselves time after time. They are etched into their muscle memories and they respond accordingly (and hopefully correctly!); but, there are every so often those one-off moments when referees have to rise to the occasion and deal with something outside their common experience and unfortunately for Auburn, it didn’t happen last night.
For Auburn, Murphy’s Law Takes Over
But so many things had to go wrong for Auburn in a span of 7 seconds for them to lose. First, Auburn’s Jared Harper misses a free throw that would have put the Tigers up by three; then the double dribble that wasn’t called and finally the undisputed three-shot foul by Samir Doughty on Virginia’s Kyle Guy with 0.6 on the clock. And finally, Guy has to hit all three shots under incredible pressure to win the game.
You have to feel bad for Doughty, who simply closed out too hard and contacted the shooter inside his cylinder. You can call it “A to B” as did Steratore, or you can call it a “landing space foul” – it’s all the same and there isn’t a referee anywhere who could avoid blowing his whistle on this one.
NCAA men’s basketball never seems to lack for referee controversy. Last night’s ending to the Auburn – Virginia semifinal will only add to the lore and especially for Tigers fans, will never be forgotten. You might have to go back to the 1989 final and the phantom Seton Hall foul on Michigan’s Rumeal Robinson and his two winning free throws with 3 seconds left to find a comparable example .