Hey NCAA: If you think this critical out of bounds call at 1:06 in the championship game between Virginia and Texas Tech should have been reversed and the ball awarded to the Cavaliers, well, that’s just wrong! Since the game was invented in 1891, there’s no one that has played, watched, coached or reffed basketball who would ever tell you that this call was last touched by the Red Raiders’ Davide Moretti. Until now.
The first problem is the NCAA rule, which states that the ball is caused to go out of bounds by the last person in contact with the ball. In the NBA, this play would never have been reversed, because by rule, the question is who causes the ball to go out of bounds.
Let me give you an example: the defender hits the hand of the player, which is in contact with the ball and which, of course, is not a foul (hand is part of the ball!). Who causes the ball to go out of bounds? Easy answer: it’s the defender! Or, think about this situation: I go up for a shot and get stripped. As the ball gets knocked out of my hands and out of bounds, of course it brushes mine last – but the other team doesn’t get the ball! And until 1:06 was left in overtime of the NCAA championship, every kid on every street corner in any-country-you-name also thought the same, not to mention EVERY NCAA referee also called it that way. What happened?
NCAA getting carried away
What happened, is that the NCAA is getting carried away with that allowed the referees to progress frame by frame, pixel by pixel and see that the ball brushed Moretti’s pinky finger. Let me take another excellent example from an appropriately sarcastic, biting piece by Mike Pesca in the online magazine, Slate.
“Moretti’s finger seems to have been in contact with the ball after Hunter jabbed it away. Try this experiment at home, and get someone to record it with your iPhone on slo-mo. Hold a small object between your right thumb and forefinger; I used a soup cracker. Poke it with your left forefinger. You will see, depending on how thorough the poke is, the last body part to touch the object might be your left “poking” finger, or it could be your right “holding” finger.
“I used a pretty big bag of soup crackers (Hale and Hearty is generous) and could get different results depending on the follow-through of my poke and the speed of my release. Also, the quality and angle of the slow-motion feature affected my perceptions.“
Besides a violation of the precept of “clear and conclusive visual evidence” in order to overturn a call, this decision violated the 11th commandment dear to all referees: use your common sense! Let’s hope the NCAA gets some common sense in the future and at the very least, changes its out of bounds rule.