My Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets had a great, unexpected run deep into the NCAA tournament, the best run in school history. Coach Paul Hewitt is a class act, and I’m glad we’ve locked him down for many years to come. Next year looks solid, with only 2 of the 9 players in our regular rotation graduating (Clarence Moore and Marvin Lewis).
I’m still in mourning over that game, and quite irritated to boot. On the one hand, there are the things you can’t help. In each game, a player stepped up and led the team, whether it was Will Bynum, Marvin Lewis, Jarrett Jack, someone was on. Last night, nobody had their shot. It was like the rim had been put under a voodoo curse, with every shot clanging off the iron and into the hands of a Connecticut player. While UConn played a role in that, a lot of it was well set-up, well aimed shots that just wouldn’t roll right on this night.
What could have been helped was the completely inept refereeing that has been prominent throughout the tournament, but took center stage in this game. From start to finish, light taps and even no-contact shots were called as fouls against the Yellow Jackets. Tech players would get shoved, charged, and body checked for a no-call. Over the back on rebounds, body fouls on shots, and hacks on the dribble were ignored, causing several losses of possession. The Huskies would barrel through defenders, completely out of control, and not get called for the player control foul. Meanwhile, Luke Schenscher (who has a posse) would get a clean block or a hand up in front of a shooter and get whistled for a foul. Georgia Tech plays a physical game, and if the officials want to call a game to minimize physicality, that’s fine, as long as it’s consistent. The “activist officiating” (tongue-in-cheek) witnessed last night was one-sided, allowing UConn to play a fierce, physical game, while disrupting the Yellow Jackets’ tempo regularly with trivial touch fouls. Georgia Tech was clearly outplayed last night, but it’s tough to say what might have been if the refs had swallowed their whistles instead of allowing Tech players to get mugged, losing rebounds and opportunities because of it, while giving UConn a free pass to the free throw line at every opportunity. Perhaps B.J. Elder could have found his shot, Ish could have defended more strongly, Bynum and Jack could have found some driving room. We’ll never know. But I still give great respect to both teams – UConn won, and the reffing was not their fault, and this Tech team beat all expectations to get to this point.