Reviewing the refs
Game officials Larry Rose, Doug Shows and Gary Maxwell called a game that gave 39 free throw attempts for Washington to 11 for Illinois. In the second half it was 21-2. The end result is that Illinois lost the game despite making eight more baskets than Washington.
The 39 free throw attempts were the most against Illinois since Bruce Weber took over the program in April 2003
and the 28-shot disparity in free throws equaled the widest margin in an Illinois game since that Elite Eight loss to Arizona
Following the game, it was difficult for Illini Wonk to determine if the officiating was really that bad or if it was just my emotions getting in the way of my judgement. Today, it is clear that my judgement was spot on and agreed to by many. Here's just a few:
Mark Tupper: I watched the game from the second row. No question Illinois fouled. I have no problem with that, although I thought it was an imaginary call against Marcus Arnold when he battled for that rebound late in the game. My problem is that Washington was fouling, too. They were bumping and slapping and colliding and grabbing, just like Illinois was. So from where I sat, there simply should not have been that large a disparity
Mike Nadel: I just about never rip refs. In fact, I usually criticize coaches and players who complain because refs so rarely decide games
. He then went on to call the officiating horribly inconsistent, incompetent
and judged that it was one of the worst-officiated games in recent memory
Bruce Weber: "I'm (ticked)," he said, although Weber selected a more descriptive word. "It was frustrating in the second half. We shot two free throws, they shot 21. We fouled, but I thought maybe we got fouled, too. But they didn't see it that way
Then there are the usual pricks who think any complaining about the refs is only done by crybabies, as if the zebras never make mistakes. Phil Taylor of Sports Illustrated belongs in this category. Illinois coach Bruce Weber... cried so much to the officials that someone really should have passed him a hanky
. Where you at the game, Phil?
Others focused on the seeding that Illinois received. Mike DeCourcy, almost mirroring an earlier post from Illini Wonk
, wrote: Illinois had a better record than Tennessee (25-6 to 21-7), more RPI top 25 wins (5 for Illinois, 3 for UT), more top 50 wins (9 for Illinois, 4 for UT) and more top 100 wins (13 to 10). Illinois finished second in its conference, same as Tennessee. But somehow the committee looked at all of that and made the absurd decision that the Volunteers' record was superior
Dee Brown and James Augustine shouldn't have to go out like this. They deserved better from a game that they did so much for.