Monday, January 4, 2016

The Waybach Machine: Another visit to the Screwjob

Way back when, Bokolis wrote about how UNLV was jobbed by the refs- the whole NCAA, really- in the 1991 semifinal against Duke.  When ESPN did that I hate Christian Laettner piece and, while making sure to portray Laettner as anything but the product of White privilege that he came off as being, wondered how so much venom could be directed at him by so many, it could have answered its own question by examining this game.

Of course, be it rugby for fairies (that's gridiron football) or storytelling, ESPN is in the Disney business of fantasy, not deep-dive analysis.  Without going off the deep end on analysis and speculation, Bokolis would gather that the guy who made the 30 for 30 saw some of himself in Laettner, or saw some of Laettner in himself.

He could relate, I guess.  But, it didn't answer the question so much as it pitched the other side.

Well, Bokolis is from the 'hood, so, back then, I could relate to UNLV basketball and to the University of Miami football.  In both cases, I already liked them before they became the hood teams; it was serendipity that they became the hood teams (fleetingly, as it turned out, in UNLV's case).  But, the organic origin of my fandom isn't relevant.  I came to view these teams as antagonists/anti-heroes to what I perceived as a rigged game, a rigged society, even.

The harder the old boy network cranked to destroy them only served to shed light on its ugly existence.  The lengths to which they went to bury UNLV- by 1991, Bokolis had noticed that I wasn't alone in my sentiments- surely sowed some resentment, which was focused on the perceived beneficiaries:  Laettner, Bobby Hurley, Grant Hill, et al., and Duke in general.  For Bokolis, the hate started with Danny Ferry.  If I ever find the clip of him mushing the cheerleader...

{reeling it back in...}

A few weeks ago, someone (Mickie Krzyzewski?) left a comment itemizing the shafting.  While a sane person would tell this dude to let it go, Bokolis was fascinated that, after all this time, someone was/is more heated than I was over this.  It spurred me- I felt I owed it as tribute to his fury- to "fact-check"- both on myself and this dude.  Those comments are left as is and my comments are in RGB (11, 83, 148).  I was even diligent enough to link to the plays described.

In all cases, it should be assumed that none of it would matter to a flunkey official.  Some of these calls can only be understood if the assumption is that the officials have their marching orders.

To put names to the faces, the one with the dark hair is Tom O'Neill; the one with the gray hair is John Clougherty, whose quick whistle- putting it kindly- decided the 1989 championship; the black guy is Ted Valentine, who has gone on to get himself- just ask the internet- on the short list of most horrible officials of all time.  While hardly anyone is ever going to speak glowingly of officials, it appears that Clougherty has, by far, the best reputation.  It will play out that Valentine is the chief villain here, as he makes the lion's share- and the most scandalous- of the calls.

The UNLV-Duke game was the 2nd FF game.  Well, I'll be fucked- it sure was. 

...Stacey Augmon played with a severe migraine... That's code for, his hands were doused in a special motor oil (20-50?) that only wiped off with $100 bills...just like fat Ronaldo's convulsive fit on the eve of the 1998 World Cup Final was code for a alcohol/coke binge.

And the 2nd half of the UNLV-Duke game was the most one-sided officiated game in Final Four history. A few of the examples of the biased officating:<<< ok, just a few...we are all biased; these guys were corrupted.

Approx. 17:45 left in the 2nd half, Hurly converted a fast break layup and got a free throw on a foul on Anthony where it clear as day Anthony did not touch Hurly.  Correct.  Anthony made it apparent that he would play the matador there- not that it would matter to someone looking to make a call.  Valentine made the call.

Approx. 17:15 left in the 2nd half, an out-of-bounds call occurred that the refs said it went off LJ but it clearly went off on Laetner. Correct, and quite apparent...a piss-poor call, again by Valentine. 

Approx. 17:10 left in the 2nd half, there was a b.s. goaltending call on Gray that even Packer said was a poor call.  Correct.  This call was scandalously bad and, as it gave Duke free points, maybe the most egregious of the bunch.  Bokolis has a better chance at hitting the rim than that ball had.  This was on the possession retained by the previous call.  The whistling referee is off-camera; it is not Valentine this time, more likely Clougherty.

Approx. 16:06 left in the 2nd half, an out-of-bounds call gave the ball to Duke altough the ball went off Duke's Palmer.  Technically correct but, in 1991, the player in Palmer's position was usually given the call under the reasoning that, when it was close enough to be deemed simultaneous, it was considered out on the guy whose contact was causing the relevant impetus.  Notice that, while the UNLV players squawked at several of the calls that went against them, no one batted an eye on this call, made by Clougherty.

Approx. 15:36 left in the 2nd half, an out-pass to Laetner was overthrown. Anthony jumped up straight up to grab the ball, Laettner ran into him, and the officials called a foul on Anthony.  Agree.  Even though it was subjective, more nuanced and subtle, this was a shit call that would convince a knowledgeable neutral- given the phantom foul just over two minutes prior- of chicanery.  Valentine again makes the call- see the pattern here.

Approx. 15:36 left in the 2nd half, Anderson Hunt is about to dunk on a fast-break, and Duke's McCaffrey undercuts him. Hunt crashes down hurting his shoulder. Officials refuse to call an intentional foul.  I cannot agree.  This was the ensuing play out of the TV time out...Laettner threw the ball right to Hunt.  While I'm not inclined to sanction a hard foul as it is, the defender kept his hands down.  This was just a foul, an effective use of the dark arts.  Valentine also makes this call, so it's mildly surprising that he didn't call a charge.

Approx. 15:05 left in the 2nd half, the officials call on intentional foul on Augmon for bumping into to McCaffrey (yet no intentional call on Hunt a few seconds earlier)  The next trip down after Hunt sank 1 of 2, this was a bad one.  Augmon gets his forearm into McCaffrey's chest, but not with any real venom.  It seemed unremarkable.  It was within the subjective realm of a foul, but far from intentional.  Fittingly, the call is made by Valentine.

Approx. 11:05 left in the 2nd half, Anderson Hunt is about to dunk on a fast-break, and Hurley grabs him. Clear as day intentional foul, the refs refuse to call it even though Hurley grabbed him with both arms. LJ complains to the refs and the officials give a technical on Johnson - giving Duke an extra point. This is an interesting one.  The call is made by the Valentine, who whistled Augmon for the intentional foul, so it is unavoidable that this be viewed in comparison to that one.  In this case, Hurley comes down with two hands/arms on Hunt.  He wasn't trying to hammer Hunt, but it was without any sort of grace that could give it the appearance of being anything but intentional.  Again, while I'm not inclined to sanction a hard foul, this was certainly worse than Augmon's.
Further, Johnson is given a technical by O'Neill for whinging while facing away from him.  The same official allowed Greg Koubek, who was not involved in the play (and not the captain), some white boy privilege to lobby against calling it intentional.  Leaving aside that Koubek put two hands on the official, these are cardinal sins of officiating.  In more polite circles, they may say that this causes players to lose respect for officials.  Bokolis will say in no uncertain terms that the official has shown himself to be a cunt. 

Approx. 8:35 left in the 2nd half, Thomas Hill literally dribbled the ball out-of-bounds without an UNLV player near him.  Inconclusive.  O'Neill makes the call.  There are two items here.  I'm not entirely convinced Hill dribbled out of bounds.  But, after picking up his dribble, it certainly seemed like he lost the ball out of bounds.  I couldn't see where any UNLV player forced the ball free but, from the angle, this was also not conclusive. 

Approx. 8:25 left in the 2nd half, Thomas Hill went up for a three point shot, came down on the ball in a clear travel, and the officals inexplicately called the foul on Anthony for his fourth foul. The above cascaded into this possession, but that's the way the cookie crumbles.  Anthony hit Hill's right (non-shooting) elbow before Hill landed.  This is within the subjective realm of a foul.  However, with even a modicum of critical thought, Clougherty would've realized that Hill was hung up in the air and to not bail out Hill.  To the contrary, Clougherty put some flair into the call; he must have been aching to bust out that drop to a knee move.

That said, they could've had Anthony on a tricky-tack foul a minute earlier, where he was tangled with a Duke player while trying to deny a pass to the post that ultimately went out of bounds.  O'Neill and Clougherty were in position, but chose to let the play go.

Approx. 3:50 left in the 2nd half, Anthony hits a running jumper, but the officals waive it off the basket and call Greg with his 5th foul on a charge on Brian Davis. An absolutely horrific call.  This is probably the most scandalous of the calls.  Davis was hopelessly late and did not have position.  Realizing he'd be late, he also thrust into place, making this an even more obvious blocking foul.  The most scandalous part of this is that, it wasn't the official(s) on the sidelines, with better angles, making the call.  It was the official under the basket, Valentine, who had a shit angle, making the call in that staccato whistle that asserts prerogative.  They'd succeeded in fouling out Anthony, and heisted an and-one in the process.
Having done the deed, they saw no need to call a bonafide charge on Ackles.  Again it was Davis, again he tried to sell the charge by grunting as contact was made.  That time, it was O'Neill under the basket, who was either not as moved as Valentine, or making up for Valentine's call.

Approx. 3:40 left in the 2nd half, Brian Davis double-dribbles in the paint, but no call.  Indeed he did- all three of them could call it, but Valentine seemed to have the best view- but it came to nothing.

Approx. 1:30 left in the 2nd half, Laetner blantantly fouls LJ on the Rebels 2nd to last possession. Deliberate, if maybe not blatant, Laettner hit Johnson halfway up the forearm.  Laettner, behind the play, came up on Johnson from the side and swipes downward.  It is virtually impossible to get all ball from that angle.  Further, the ball goes up and out of bounds, which would also not happen if Laettner got all ball; this only happens when the player's arm his hit.  There is also the circumstantial evidence of Laettner subsequently flexing out his hand, smarting from having knocked it on Johnson in a way that couldn't have happened if he'd gotten all ball.  O'Neill called UNLV ball out of bounds and Augmon ran out the shot clock dribbling at midcourt.

Approx. 1:15 left in the 2nd half, the officals call a terrible foul on LJ on Brian Davis.  By this point, the officials must have been of the mindset that they had to get Duke home and, if the audience has tolerated all the previous bad calls, it wouldn't mind this one.  Clougherty likely makes this call.  He is not seen making it, but he is under the basket and he is seen subsequently heading to the scorer's table to give the particulars.

This should be a no-call, but it isn't cut and dried.  If you're (really) looking for a call, you can claim that Johnson leaned in with his left side to cause contact.

Then again, what you don't notice is that, Grant Hill slipped into the lane after making the pass to Davis and gained rebounding position on Augmon, who gives him a two-handed shove in the back.  This wasn't called- Augmon did it early, while Davis was still on the ground, when officials are staring at the impending shot and aren't focused on rebounding fouls.  Bokolis used to do this shit all the time, that's how I know.

Approx. :13 left in the 2nd half, although Gray has inside position, the officals call a loose ball foul on Gray which gave Laettner the two free throws that provided the difference in the game.  The coup de grâce, fittingly applied by Valentine, again from a bad position, while the other two ignored Laettner pushing Johnson in the back.  After the missed shot, the ball is flicked by Grant Hill to a point where Laettner is in a better position- which is why he wound up with the ball.  However, the contact is incidental, shoulders bumping as arms are raised.  Like the foul on Davis above, you don't make that call unless you are looking for calls.  In this case- tie game, little time left and a loose ball- there is no call.

In summation, Bokolis shows, from calls above I deem to be egregiously bad, Duke getting 6 points from converted foul shots, net +2 points given or taken off the scoreboard, net 3 extra possessions, 3 fewer UNLV free throws, two fouls on Greg Anthony.  It's a safe bet to estimate that this translates into +13 point swing for Duke.  Mind you, that's just the second half.

That's all the fuck I got.

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