Saturday night at Hinkle Fieldhouse offered a redux of the infamous Sabatino Chen episode, only without the magnified scrutiny this time. And once again, the home team got the benefit of the call.
After getting away with a slight push-off (a good no-call), Butler forward Roosevelt Jones intercepted a reckless Gonzaga in-bounds lob and then went the length of the court in three seconds to provide sports fans another hallmark moment to cap a memorable day of college hoops. His patented tear-drop gave Butler its third thrilling victory of the season in the final seconds, narrowly beating the buzzer to topple eighth-ranked Gonzaga.
Or did it? A snapshot of Jones releasing his game-winning floater reveals the ball apparently (i.e. inconclusively) touching his right hand as the backboard light goes on.
Do note: the game clock perched atop each hoop supersedes the backboard light, though the two, theoretically, should be in sync. The light on the scoreboard is used to aid officials in making judgments on the floor, in the event the game clock reading cannot be exacted as a shot is released. Upon video review, the officials are instructed to use the game clock as the primary time measure. The scoreboard clock on the bottom of the television screen is irrelevant.
Real-time footage of Jones’ shot shows the backboard light flashing before the game clock atop the hoop touches zero. There’s a small, but visible, disconnect between the light and the game clock expiring. Somewhere within that small gap, Jones appears to release his tear-drop.
Similar to the Colorado buzzer-beater against UCLA that was wrongly waved off, there is no substantial evidence to overturn the call on the floor of a made basket. (NCAA rules do not require “indisputable video evidence” to overturn a call, as the NFL does). At 1:26 in the video above, the far clock appears to show one-tenth of a second as Jones has slipped off the shot, but the visual isn’t fully clear. Regardless, the ruling on the floor of a made basket should stand, as it should have in the Chen fiasco as well.
Moral of the story: in-bound the basketball towards your opponent’s basket, not aimlessly at midcourt. That way, you don’t leave up a hard-fought, well-played game to the fallible discretion of the human eye. And if you’re an official, don’t overturn a ruling on the floor unless there’s irrefutable video evidence to the contrary, even if the rules stipulate that indisputable proof is not required to reverse the call..
In the future, expect similar bang-bang calls to continue to go the way of the home team, especially when there are streams of fans already rushing the floor.