Butler fouls! Pitt fouls! Weirdest NCAA ending ever? Yep

OK, you’re asking: Have I ever seen anything like the end of Pitt-Butler? And the answer is:

No, because nobody has ever seen anything like it.

The silliest foul in the history of the Big Dance followed by an even sillier one. An absolutely great game that had an ending to make even the winning coach feel sheepish. And here’s the weirdest part: The refs weren’t wrong either time. Both the goofball fouls — first Shelvin Mack’s, committed 45 feet from the goal, and then Nasir Robinson’s, committed 90 feet from the other goal — were fouls.

If it was unfortunate that such a game was decided by back-and-forth lapses of sense, it nonetheless proves yet again that the NCAA tournament cannot be handicapped or scripted. You can’t write stuff like this. Butler is the most resourceful team in the land and possibly the best-coached, and it messed up. Then Pitt messed up worse. Amazing. But not really.

Because that’s the thing about the Big Dance: These guys aren’t pros, and many of them will never be. They’re amateurs trying really hard with millions of us watching. The wonder isn’t that these guys sometimes have brain blips; the wonder is that they manage to function as well under pressure as they do.

That said: Is Butler amazing? Is Brad Stevens the best? (Actually, no. Krzyzewski is. But Stevens might be second-best.) And did I not warn you against picking Pitt because this proud team invents ways to lose in March?

Great tournament. Great game. Wildest ending ever. Wilder even than Michigan beating Western Kentucky in 1966 on a foul on a jump ball. (Ref Steve Honzo said Western’s Greg Smith jumped into the All-American Cazzie Russell on a toss with 11 seconds left, and Russell made the tying and winning free throws.) I never thought that ending could be topped for sheer lunacy. Wrong again.

(Speaking of which: Here, courtesy of YouTube, are the final few minutes of that game from 45 years ago. The jump ball comes at the 8:51 mark. Judge for yourself.

(As for the principals: Russell would become a famous sixth man with the championship-winning New York Knicks, Smith a starting forward for the championship-winning Milwaukee Bucks. And the Hilltopper who misses the free throw ahead of the jump ball is Wayne Chapman, who would have a son named Rex.)

By Mark Bradley

118 comments Add your comment

SpiderBill

March 19th, 2011
10:20 pm

Spiders are first!

Mark Bradley

March 19th, 2011
10:25 pm

Kudos, SpiderBill.

And there’s not one thing weird about Richmond.

Coach(sic) Paul Johnson

March 19th, 2011
10:30 pm

Georgia Tech has lost 5 of their last 6 football games, only beating Duke.

Jim Burr

March 19th, 2011
10:31 pm

I beg to differ. Did you see my work at the end of the Arizona/Memphis game. I felt like the last two fouls on AZ in the last 1.8 seconds did not give the defense an advantage. Even though I called the same plays fouls earlier in the game. I really don’t suck, my momma said so.

5150 UOAD

March 19th, 2011
10:35 pm

Next to Bull Ridings 8 seconds that game had to be the wildest ride ever in an NCAA Tourney Game. It also had to be the longest 7.2 seconds ever. Butler coach was very classy in the post game interview too.

cattle dawg

March 19th, 2011
10:36 pm

Must be a Michigan video camera because theres no way any one in Kentucky had one back in 66.

Legend of Len Barker

March 19th, 2011
10:39 pm

While I’m happy that the officials didn’t take the final seconds off like the Big East crew did in the St. John’s game in the conference tournament, must they be so deliberate about getting the clock right?

Neither squad has a timeout, yet they essentially get one while the refs spend an eternity trying to figure out how much time is left. Well, at least it wasn’t at the Macon Coliseum. Not only does that clock not have tenths, to reset the clock, you have to count it down (from the one minute mark) and pray you shut it off in time.

The Legend is currently watching the annual Fiasco bid go up in smoke. In many of years of playing, the Legend has survived the first weekend exactly twice.

5150 UOAD

March 19th, 2011
10:40 pm

The Big East is looking like the Big Least or the SEC Least in football. How many Big East make it to the Sweet 16?3 Elite 8?1 Final 4? 0

5150 UOAD

March 19th, 2011
10:43 pm

Coach(sic) this is about basketball and UGA went 10-10 in their last 20 games but made the NCAA tourney why exactly?

5150 UOAD

March 19th, 2011
10:48 pm

Mark other than the results of the game did you have a nice time in Charlotte?

Najeh Davenpoop

March 19th, 2011
10:51 pm

Both those fouls were legit. Don’t blame the refs. Just dumb fouls by each team.

Glad I only had Pitt in the Elite 8, and not in the Final Four like most people I know.

Najeh Davenpoop

March 19th, 2011
10:53 pm

Pretty big hit for President Obama’s nearly all-chalk bracket too, for that matter.

Hewitt Fan

March 19th, 2011
10:56 pm

@ Mark Bradley

how is coach K amazing?..you and I both know the refs have gave this guy everything he has won…UNLV vs Duke was sad..Leattner stomped a kid and was not ejected, then hit the winning shot against Kentucky..The refs stole the Maryland game and then the Arizona game…Last year the refs carried Duke against Purdue,Baylor and Butler and you call the guy amazing…you are sad my friend!

5150 UOAD

March 19th, 2011
11:04 pm

Hewitt Fan give it a rest. The REF are after you. The refs are out to get you. Coach K sold his soul to the sneaky Imp for sure. It is all the refs nothing Coach K has done is enough to get his teams to win a basketball game. Why don’t you become an ACC ref just so you can make sure DUKE and coach K never win another game just like you will make sure Tech never gets another Atl Celtic.

cattle dawg

March 19th, 2011
11:07 pm

How come my ranking never comes up?

Legend of Len Barker

March 19th, 2011
11:21 pm

Lives to see another day. But will probably lose tomorrow.

JSS

March 19th, 2011
11:41 pm

Oh snap, the legendary 1966 25-3 Hilltoppers team that was supposedly better than “Rupps Runts!” That was Oldham’s famous color barrier breaking team that sent shock waves across the South… I heard the stories, but had never seen them before now… They were on a collision course to see who would advance to the Final Four (UK or WKU)…

Hewitt Fan

March 19th, 2011
11:45 pm

@5150 UOAD Everything that i post is always true!..Mark Bradley is an idiot…I hate when he praises a guy who teams get the benefits of the calls..You can ignore it all you want to, but you and I know that Coach K is helped by the refs!

Mark Bradley

March 19th, 2011
11:46 pm

Western in ‘66 had Clem Haskins and Greg Smith, who would play in the NBA, and Greg Smith’s twin brother Dwight, who was killed in a car accident and who was considered the best of the Hilltoppers.

Bill

March 19th, 2011
11:55 pm

Hewitt fan is crazy. Same BS over and over.
Mark any news on GT’s coaching position? Stevens are Mooney ?

JSS

March 19th, 2011
11:59 pm

Didn’t Haskins break his wrist the next year? I know Bobby Jones (the former SW Macon/Hilltopper star) told me once that there was a story that Oldham used to put two players on Dwight Smith in practice because he was such a skilled ball hander that 6 on 5 was the only way they could practice. And he’d still beat the double team!

5150 UOAD

March 20th, 2011
12:00 am

Hewitt Fan everything you post is always true? Can you give me the #’s for Tuesday’s $277 mil Lotto drawing? Is everybody at your job against you? WHY and HOW could the REFS make/ allow Coach K win 700 something games? You are just a crybaby. I guess non of the Atl Celtics are enough like Grant Hill to get coach K to recruit and offer any of your kids a shot and going to DUKE.

Delta Stewardess

March 20th, 2011
12:22 am

Hewitt Fan is the smartest Basketball Blogger in the entire USofA. Where did this guy come from? Sir you really need some new material.
That was a wild ending.
I can’t believe BYU is doing as well as they are without the Horny player still on the team. Good go BYU for sticking to their Morals and Rules of Conduct standards.

Beast from the East

March 20th, 2011
4:37 am

That was one wild ending. The refs did get both calls right, but I would have preferred they refrain from making either call with only 2.2 seconds left on the clock. Either way, it was a great game.

Mark, I thought I was doing bad on my bracket until I looked at yours. LOL. My Gators looked pretty good again yesterday. UCLA played well, but so did UF. Go Gators!

Mark Bradley`s Booster

March 20th, 2011
4:54 am

Delta Stewardess: The Delta Flight Attendants would like
to know why you have a job different title. Would you please answer. Thanks.

Paddy

March 20th, 2011
6:45 am

Mark Bradley’s Booster……….The ans to the above is Delta Stewardess is realy old and looks like Rene Richards before the sex change. Delta worked when they were known as pursars and were not allowed to fly over water.

T-Bone

March 20th, 2011
7:08 am

MB, why do you not have the Butler coach on your possible list for the Tech coaching job?

kaput

March 20th, 2011
7:23 am

Go Gators!!

(Where are the Dogs?)

Ted Striker

March 20th, 2011
8:16 am

Chris Webber’s 1993 timeout against North Carolina — with none available — was fairly wild as well.

Saturdaygolfer

March 20th, 2011
8:19 am

What kind of article doesn’t even say who won the game? And what happened after the fouls? Did they make the free throws? What was the final score? Some of us don’t sit around and watch 20 hours of TV basketball on a beautiful Saturday.

Tom Hughes

March 20th, 2011
8:26 am

Thanks for reminding me of Steve Honzo. I went to Villanova in the early 60’s and did radio BB. Honzo was the worst and backed that up with the kind of swashbuckling arrogance that no one could get away with today. Good times.

fla dawg

March 20th, 2011
8:38 am

delta stewardess wins the award for today’s stupidest post. I feel confident that no later entries will top that stupidity.

Larry

March 20th, 2011
8:38 am

Jake

March 20th, 2011
8:58 am

Agreed, Mark: I’ve never seen so much stupidity concentrated into such a short period of time. And I think it speaks to a bigger issue: the overall lack of intelligence on the court at any given time. There are a lot of great athletes, but very few players at any level who understand the game beyond dribble and shoot.

Which is why I haven’t watched an entire game all year. Texas coach Rick Barnes told SI in the current issue “College teams overdribble” — and then they fire away from 25. There’s just not enough of the teamwork, flow, fundamentals and intelligence that used to make the game a joy to play and to watch.

Thus you get plays like those by Mack and Robinson. Astounding, but not really that surprising.

Saturdaygolfer

March 20th, 2011
9:02 am

Thanks, Larry, now I know.

FJR

March 20th, 2011
9:08 am

I’m really glad refs are actually calling legitimate fouls at the ends of games now. I had really begun to hate how at the end of a close game you could essentially mug a player and the refs wouldn’t make the call because they were scared to call anything in the last 20 seconds of a tight game.

Jake – Those plays weren’t about lack of intelligence, those plays were about getting caught up in the pressure of the moment. Both players 100% knew those fouls were dumb and said as much after the game, but people do stupid things under pressure, when they’re not used to that kind of pressure. If you’ve watched both of those guys this year, they both have pretty good court intelligence.

bill

March 20th, 2011
9:10 am

at least he didn’t swallow his whistle like Bruce Benedict did here in atlanta to give Indiana a pass into the worst played championship game. noone can say duke got the call in that game

sportzfan

March 20th, 2011
9:12 am

Hewitt Fan….you’re an idiot. I’m definately not a Duke fan, but you’re absolutely insane if you think Coach K isn’t one of the two or three best coaches in college basketball. Just go back several years and look at his team when he became ill and he didn’t coach….the team sank quickly. When he returned the following year, the team immediately moved to the top again. Why is it that the refs are always to blame when a team doesn’t win? Fouls happen on both teams that doesn’t get called, but people tend to forget about the ones that went their way.

Rabun Dawg

March 20th, 2011
9:34 am

Did you see the shot Walker of Fla. put up in the last few minutes of their game? Unbelievable that it went in, and no foul was called! Probably was a good no call against the big fellow from UCLA. And, Walker personally put the Gators on his back to win the game. Mr. Hewitt fan, I find it hard to believe that you think that Duke only wins because of the refs. And as someone earlier said, if coach K isn’t one of the best, just who is on the top of your list, besides Hewitt? You need to give it up friend, Hewitt is gone from Tech, and just who are all of these Celtic superstars you refer to?

Jim Burr

March 20th, 2011
9:43 am

Just because I didn’t call two of the fouls committed by Arizona against Memphis as the Memphis guy went for the game tying layup in the last 1.5 secs doesn’t mean you shouldn’t call the same foul in the first 39:58 min:secs of a game. After all I had just called the same foul against memphis….

Delta Stewardess

March 20th, 2011
10:04 am

Rabun Dawg
Crittendon, Favors, Lewal, and Morris are a few of the Atl Celtics that HEWITT FAN personally made sure signed with Tech. If he responds latter he will give you a complete list, but NO MORE Celtics for TECH. Tech fans didn’t yell at the REFS enough to get calls like Coach K at DUKE according to Hewitt Fan. fla dawg Thanks for caring.

country boy

March 20th, 2011
10:23 am

Hello Marky boy. I think both calls were correct. My question is why were the Pitt players even at the lane during the foul shot. Seems like most coaches pull their players into the defensive end so that even if the shooter misses the best an opponent can hope for with seconds remaining is a long sling of a shot attempt. What was the Pitt coach thinking??? An offensive rebound was less important than the possibility of a needless foul – which happened.

collegeballfan

March 20th, 2011
10:40 am

“Butler is the most resourceful team in the land and possibly the best-coached,…”

“But Stevens might be second-best.”

So, Mark would you agree that the folks at Georgia Tech are gonna look like a bunch of dummies if they do not make Brad Stevens an offer?

FJR

March 20th, 2011
11:00 am

“What was the Pitt coach thinking??? An offensive rebound was less important than the possibility of a needless foul – which happened.”

The Pitt coach said that he believed pulling his players from the line would psych his player out at the line.

Mitzymy

March 20th, 2011
11:02 am

Brad Stevens is not going anywhere. We all know that after he took his Bull Dogs to the final 4 last year for the first time in school history, he got a BIG RAISE!! He will get one this year also. He is not even 30 yet, and he is set for life financially. Butler is a private school in the middle of Indianapolis Indiana in a neighborhood called Broad Ripple, and they support the school. Most of the players are 4.0 scholars.

gtne80

March 20th, 2011
11:09 am

I loathe referees, umpires, and other game officials who believe themselves to be as big a part of the game as the players. The NFL has been ruined by overly officious referees looking for every twitch of an offensive lineman or every marginal block on kick returns. The same disease is seeping into the college football game that I love. Similarly, the NBA has become a contest of which superstar will get the marginal touch foul as he steams toward the hoop on nearly every possession. Even baseball is now no longer immune, with umps reviewing and re-reviewing marginal calls.

Yes. Both instances were technically correctly called as fouls. Those who argue that point miss the point entirely. Sports are NOT clinical. Dragging the games into the realm of having to be perfectly and flawlessly officiated, with every potential infraction called and punished, removes the humanity of the games and turns them over to the hands of the regulators. I don’t wish to spend my time and money watching referees make calls. I want to see the athletes perform.

I once heard a football referee say that “We’re just here to call the fouls that are “train wrecks.” That comes close to my sentiment. I don’t care that a wide receiver 15 yards away from the play forgot to step one yard closer to the line of scrimmage when the team re-shifted for the third time.

Let them play. I’ll take the imperfections if it restores the thrill of the game. In my opinion, yesterday’s Butler-Pitt game was significantly marred by the need for the officials to step in and make the technically correct calls at the crucial times.

FJR

March 20th, 2011
11:09 am

“Most of the players are 4.0 scholars.”

LOL

country boy

March 20th, 2011
11:09 am

Thanks FJR. I hadn’t heard that explanation. Still bad coaching in my opinion.

FJR

March 20th, 2011
11:13 am

“Let them play. I’ll take the imperfections if it restores the thrill of the game. In my opinion, yesterday’s Butler-Pitt game was significantly marred by the need for the officials to step in and make the technically correct calls at the crucial times.”

The problem with that philosophy is that when the refs do take that philosophy, the players take advantage of it. That is, the players will mug you on defense, because they know its not going to be called. If over the past few years you watched the end of close NCAA games, especially in the big east, the final minute or so resembled a rugby match more than basketball, with the players draped all over one another. You have to call end game fouls to avoid players constantly fouling at the end of the game. That is unless you just like watching basketball where defenders are allowed to mug guys and over the back is fine.

JacketLady

March 20th, 2011
11:16 am

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