An Entreaty to All Those Who Have Ever, are Now, or Think They Might be Tempted in the Future to Blame a Loss on the Officiating : Please Shut the F*#@ Up

I've just had enough.

All day long I've been subjected the apoplectic ravings of disconsolate State fans ( and Carolina fans for that matter) and various hosts on sports radio and elsewhere, decrying how the grossly unfair and biased nature of the foul calls in the Duke game last night was the cause of Wolfpack's epically egregious  loss. Yup, that's right, folks!  It's time for the "Duke Gets All the Calls" idiot parade to come tooting their sad and tired little trumpets down main street. The certifiable ones insisted that State actually leave the conference because they were never going to get " fair officiating" with Duke and Carolina around, even though the number of fouls called in this game was effectively even ( 24 for State and 21 for Duke, and mind you 2 of those State fouls were of the "intentional" end-of-game variety). The marginally sane insisted that it wasn't the number of fouls but the distribution of them that was unfair, as though the officials were somehow looking to call more fouls on State starters than Duke starters. See, somehow the refs were able to accurately assess that Ryan and Andre were not as important to the Duke cause as C.J. Leslie and Richard Howell are to the Pack cause ( despite the fact that Ryan Kelly, though not a starter last night, averages more points per game than Mason Plumlee and that Duke changes it's starting lineup almost every single game ) and therefore chose to distribute the Duke fouls to the "less important" players while doing the opposite for State. Yeah. Uh huh.The almost reasonable ones still had to mention how Coach K  "worked the refs" as though a) it's against the rules and b) no other coach in America would think of doing such a thing and c) this always sways them to see his point of view.

I thought Coach K said it best after the Duke loss to Indiana in the Final Four in 2002. At the end of that game Carlos Boozer was absolutely mauled after grabbing a missed free throw and should have been going to the line to shoot for the win, but no call was made, causing Matt Christensen to have to be physically restrained ( which was no small task). When asked about the impact of that call on the outcome of the game, Coach K responded by saying, essentially, that it demeans the game of basketball to reduce wins and losses to a call (or calls) made or not made. In other words, as a team you have to be good enough in all of the areas of the game that you can control so that you can overcome things that you can't , like calls that don't go your way. In other other words, even when the officiating completely and blatantly screws your team over for some other team that they have an inexplicably deep seated fondness and bias for (read : Duke as far as the rest of the country is concerned) you can't blame the officiating. Why ? Because then you don't own the mistakes that YOU MADE which put you in a position for those "bad calls" to have an appreciable impact. You don't get better as a team or smarter or more respectable as a fan base when you conclude that the ultimate reason you lost was somebody else's fault !!

Was the officiating last night terrible? Absofreakinlutely. But that door swung both ways the entire game, as was obvious to even a marginally savvy basketball-watching eye. Was the second half called differently than the first? Again, yes, largely because Duke came out of the locker room playing much more physically and aggressively on both ends. They set a particular tone with their play which caused the already suspect group of officials to go into ticky-tack mode. Given State's lack of bench, this impacted them more than it impacted Duke. So, if a State fan wants to claim that the shift in the manner in which the game was called was harder for the Wolfpack to handle than Duke, I can live with that. But the loss itself is far more attributable to the Pack's failure to deal with the shift than the shift itself. And none of this even takes into account the actual reasons they lost : the slew of bad shots they took, the missed free throws, the good Duke defense and the great play of Curry and Rivers.

And so  good sports fans, I adjure you one and all,  please hold your crazy at bay, your stupid conspiratorial insinuations in check, and your teams ( whoever they may be) more accountable than the refs who preside over their games.

Good night and good luck.

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