Category Archives: Basketball

Flawed officiating must be fixed on the biggest stage

By J.D. McKay

On Saturday night, Virginia and 2016 Indiana Mr. Basketball Kyle Guy beat this year’s Cinderella, Auburn. Guy sank three straight free throws after a foul with 1.5 seconds left. For some weird reason, I was feeling like a particularly passionate Auburn fan, so I was shocked by the outcome.

After I pulled myself together, CBS officiating analyst Gene Steratore said that the officials missed a double dribble on Virginia that would have given Auburn the ball with about 2.5 seconds left, up two. It is worth mentioning that both my dad and I noticed this missed call live. Had the double dribble been called, the Tigers would have inbounded a pass and been fouled, forcing a one-and-one. Now, Auburn may have missed the first, and Virginia may have hit the half-court buzzer beater to go to the National Championship, but they also might not have. Auburn also may have hit both going up four with about 1.5 seconds left, sending them to the National Championship.

So minutes after the Final Four game I wrote down my thoughts, and I realized, this is not the first of the Major Six (NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, NCAA Football, NCAA Basketball) championships to have a tainted pair of teams.

The Super Bowl featured the Rams, who probably should not have been in. After the two-minute warning, the Saints had a chance to score a touchdown that probably would have sent them to the Super Bowl. But after a missed pass interference call, the Saints kicked a field goal with enough time left for the Rams to kick a field goal of their own and send the game to OT, eventually winning. Once again, the outcome could have been the same had the Saints missed the field goal, still forcing overtime and eventually a loss, but we will never know because the call was missed.

There are missed calls in every game, so any call could have been missed and the outcome of the game been changed, but these are memorable because they are on the biggest stages at the biggest moments. It does not help the officials, either, that these missed calls can be replayed in super slow-mo.

There is not one easy fix to this problem. Humans will always make errors, but we have developed better technology, so why not use that to fix our errors? As I said above, these games are played in super slow-mo for fans, so why not have a group of officials either at the game or in a neutral place like New York? They could call in any missed call that is objectively wrong, like for instance, a double dribble. However, if that was instituted for the whole game, they might never end. To resolve this, the “New York Official” would only make calls within the last two minutes.

The NCAA could also resolve it the way the NFL did: challenges. However, this slows the game down significantly and would be weird for basketball. They would have to wait until after the play ended then asked the officials to look at the play. They could either have two for the whole game or just one at the end of each half.

Officiating may not be getting worse. It may be the same quality as always; however, with high def replays, we can always see when they are wrong. This technology cannot just be ignored for the improvement of the game. Several years ago, the MLB allowed for coaches’ challenges. This league that seemed like it would forever be stuck in the past came forward and made use of technology. That made some baseball fans mad, but all together was better for the game. Basketball and football have developed some strategies to make use of the technology and improve the game.

However, it seems to me that some small things can be done to get the correct calls, not lengthen the games, and, in the playoffs, give fans and players the champions as they probably should be.

 

Previewing March Madness

By J.D. McKay

We are finally into possibly the most exciting and wildest time of the year: March Madness. I will be previewing the tournament and giving you the answers to fill out the first perfect bracket ever

East: The East has the most hyped one-seed in the tournament in Duke. Led by Zion Williamson, who can only be described as a freak athlete, they have been one of the most interesting teams to watch this year. However, when their outside shots are not falling, they are very beatable. With that being said, I do not think we are going to see the first overall seed fall in the first round for the second year in a row. But I would not be surprised if they lost to the four-seed Virginia Tech in the Sweet 16 or the two- seed Michigan State in the Elite 8. In the South bracket I expect Michigan State, who is hot, to go to the Final Four.

West: The West seems to me to be the easiest bracket. The one-seed and two-seed are both good, but Gonzaga and Michigan finished the season with a loss in their conference championships. With that being said, there is not really any other team that separates themselves from the other 14 teams. Murray State has the most hyped non-Power Six player in Ja Morant. FSU is decent but not very consistent. But, I’m picking the Zags to get rolling and play Michigan State in the Final Four.

South: I get a sense of deja vu from this bracket, seeing Virginia, who lost to the 16-seed for the first time last year. I expect they do, too, and will come out prepared to beat the 16-seed Gardner-Webb University and play deep into the tournament. They also have Tennessee in their bracket, who has been solid this whole year. They lost to Kentucky once but have since beat them in their conference tournament. They have a lot of momentum and I expect them to ride that into the Final Four after beating Virginia in the Elite 8.

Midwest: This bracket has three of the most historic college basketball teams, Kansas, Kentucky, and North Carolina. I expect all three of these teams to make it to the Round of 32, but then I expect Kansas to fall to Auburn, who just beat Tennessee in the SEC Conference Championship and LSU earlier in the SEC Tournament. However, I expect North Carolina to beat UK in the Elite 8, in a rematch from the 2017 Elite 8. I distinctly remember that game because I watched in on ESPN in Guatemala with Spanish-speaking commentators. Plus, there was a huge shot made by then sophomore Luke Maye, who now leads the Tar Heels. I again expect UNC to beat UK and play Tennessee in the Final Four.

Potential Cinderella team: I do not expect any repeats of the Loyola Chicago run to the Final Four saw last year, but there are some teams that could bust some brackets this March. First off is Syracuse. The Orange are always good. They have one of the best head coaches in the country: Jim Boeheim. They are an eight-seed and could cause some problems. Another Cinderella team is Murray State. As I said above, they have Ja Morant, who is insanely athletic. He could prove to be problematic for some teams. The one other team I could see being a Cinderella team is St. Mary’s. They are coming off a conference championship against Gonzaga, where they upset the Zags.

Final Four: I picked Michigan State to play the Zags and Tennessee to play North Carolina, both of which are one vs two matchups. Michigan State will probably beat Gonzaga because they are very hot right now and are willing to be scrappy when needed as seen against Michigan in the Big Ten Championship game. North Carolina will beat Tennessee because they are experienced. In the championship game they will beat Michigan State. Two years ago, they were National Champions. Some of those players have gone pro or graduated, but other, like Maye have stuck around. Again, experience will be the factor that helps them bring the title to North Carolina.

While I was listening to this I listened to various versions of “One Shining Moment” on Youtube. It is fun to watch the best moments from the tournament on these videos, but more fun to watch the history and upsets live. Do not miss your chance to watch something you will one day tell your grandkids you saw live.

Four things to do or watch over Spring Break

By J.D. McKay

Typically I write my last or second-to-last column before break about five things to do or watch over the upcoming break. However, besides for March Madness, there just are not very many interesting upcoming events. Hopefully we sports fans will be able to survive the pre-March Madness lull and get into the tournament and then baseball season immediately after.

1- MLB Opening Day

There are a variety of options that sports fan can use to enjoy the March 28, the first day of the MLB season. The Cincinnati Reds are in town and play the Pirates. That will be the Reds’ first chance to show off their new toy, Yasiel Puig, in a meaningful game. It should also be a win because the Reds always win the first game of the season. A cheaper option is just to stay at home and watch the games on TV. Yankees fans such as myself will get to watch the pinstripes play the Orioles on ESPN. The Dodger play following the Yankees game and the Red Sox play following the Dodger game.

2- Sweet 16 and Elite 8 at KFC Yum Center

Usually, when I suggest sports events to go to, I try to suggest cheaper options to make games more affordable for my fellow broke students. For this, however, I do not really have an idea on price of tickets. Currently, the three game package is $250 dollars on Ticketmaster. After watching these games for several years and seeing low attendance because the teams are not playing close to home, I have wanted to go and expected them to be cheap. This year I am planning on going and unless U of L, UK, Duke, Purdue, or IU plays at the KFC Yum Center, I expect tickets will be affordable. Hopefully, a Cinderella team will make their way through the South Regional to add some excitement to the games.

3- Watch March Madness

If I really have to tell you this, you should start paying more attention to sports. It is the time of year when average basketball fans like myself pay lots of attention to games that I would not normally care about at all. It creates fans for the lower-seeded teams. Often, this fandom only lasts until the end of the game, but some Cinderella stories keep those fans deep into the tournament. Ultimately, the three-week period probably has the highest concentration of buzzer beaters and upsets of any time during the basketball season.

4- Fill out a bracket

The next part of this is potentially more fun, filling out a bracket. This might not sound fun to non-sports fans but will actually be worth your time. If you are an expert college basketball watcher, feel free to make educated guesses each game and have a terrible bracket. But if you are an ill-educated basketball fan, you can make some predictions based on other things. These uneducated brackets are often some of the best brackets. For example, one classic bracket idea is, if these teams mascots were to fight, who would win? Or, you could just pick the winning teams based on best mascot or best color scheme. Any bracket strategy is only crazy if it does not work.

FC set to get over the hump and beat New Albany in sectionals

By J.D. McKay

We just beat Jennings County. Now our eyes are set on our first big postseason matchup with our inner-district rival, the New Albany Bulldogs. However, the Dogs are without their best player, Julien Hunter, who broke his fibula vs Providence on Feb. 8.

New Albany started the season with high expectations because they had won five straight sectionals and had Hunter, who is a legit D-1 prospect. If not for a player now at IU, Hunter would have been New Albany’s best player his freshman year. But his injury lowered some expectations.

To advance to the sectional championship, first we will need to keep senior Derrick Stevenson under 10 points. Earlier this season, he scored 10 and we won, so limiting him again without the threat off Hunter to take some pressure of himself will slow their offense down. If another guy like junior Trey Hourigan or senior Landon Sprigler wants to carry New Albany’s scoring, let them. While both of these guys are talented players, I am taking senior Cobie Barnes or sophomore Jake Heidbreder to out score them in a shootout.

The next key to success is getting Heidbreder and Barnes rolling earlier on offense. New Albany does an excellent job of limiting our best two players in these games. When we beat the Dogs, our top players had close to 10 points. This year, Barnes had 12 and Heidbreder had nine. But last year, when we lost in the sectional championship, Barnes had one and now graduated Luke Gohmann had two. I think that it will be easier this time around for Barnes to get going, though. For one, New Albany does not have Romeo Langford to guard him and their next best matchup, Hunter, is injured. Even if they do contain Barnes, I think Heidbreder will be too much of a weapon to pressure Barnes the whole game and leave Heidbreder open.

Lastly, if we can keep NA from scoring 40 points like we did earlier this year, or even 50 points, we should win. Our offense is too good to not score more than 50 for a second time against the Bulldogs this year.

It is finally time to see if NA coach Jim Shannon’s words to the Courier-Journal come true: “It’s their Super Bowl because they never beat us.” However, this should be our second win against the Dogs this season. Without their best player, we should win by a bigger margin than we did previously. But do not let that stop you from showing out. As the Kilt Krew has said, we need it FAT. Final Score: FC 52- NA 41

Basketball begins sectionals tomorrow night against Jennings County

By J.D. McKay

Tomorrow night, FC basketball plays Jennings County, and I am going to tell it how it is: The Panthers are not very good. They lost to Madison, New Albany, and BNL. They also have already lost to us this season by 25. However, we cannot just play badly and win; we will still need to do three things to win, and win convincingly.

I will be previewing every sectional and hopefully state tournament game. So make sure to check back immediately after the game. I will also be the color commentator for tomorrow’s game, so tune into 88.1 FM to listen.

First, we need to limit turnovers. This key to success may be repeated every game, but it is just that important. Since we should be able to out rebound JC and get lots of offensive rebounds, turnovers will keep us off the offensive boards and will keep us from getting second-chance points. Plus, if we make turnovers and JC can use them to get fast break points they could very easily keep the game close.

With fastbreak points, JC can gain lots of momentum. We need to keep them from getting momentum. When a heavy underdog starts hitting shots and getting momentum, their confidence can soar. When an underdog gets some confidence they hit every shot they take, even with players in their eyes. If you do not believe me, ask Virginia, UMBC got momentum last year in the NCAA tournament, and the rest is history. To keep them from gaining momentum, we should slow the game down if they go on a run. Then, give the ball to the best player in the Hoosier Hills Conference, Cobie Barnes, and let him do work on the smaller, lss athletic Jennings County players.

The last factor is to stay out of foul trouble. If Barnes or sophomore Jake Heidbreder get in foul trouble, it could seriously slow down our offense. However, if both those guys get in foul trouble, I think senior Harrison Eades, or senior Nick Winchell could be shooting threats to put up some points and senior Logan Libs and senior Cam Sturgeon could grab some offensive boards and second-chance layups.

This postseason has the school buzzing with excitement. Without the thought of having to get through Romeo Langford to advance, expectations are incredibly high. The student section should be packed on Friday and Saturday, and I am expecting to see lots of green and gold throughout the third largest high school gym in the world. It is finally time to reclaim a sectional championship and win our first basketball state championship. Be there.