The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

73° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Wildcats need a few bounces their way

    Soulja Roy

    Maybe President Obama can work on those Pacific 10 Conference referees, too.

    As the dust settled on Wednesday night’s loss to ASU, the Zona Zoo justly chanted “”bull-shit”” because the officials blew it, right?

    Before anybody jumps into the blame game, step back and realize it’s unfair to pin any 40-minute game on a single whistle from a referee, which UA forward Chase Budinger rightly acknowledged in his post-game press conference.

    Baskets in the first half, believe it or not, count for the same number of points as baskets within the final minute. Same goes for free throws and 3-pointers, which also have constant values for the entire game.

    If the Wildcats want to salvage a berth in the NCAA Tournament, they’ll need a few bounces to go their way. They need to be on the good side of a late-game whistle, or be the team to execute that last-possession set play.

    Lately, it’s been the sometimes-inexplicable late fouls that have doomed the Wildcats.

    To quote former UCLA coach Jim Harrick: “”Good refs make bad calls. Bad refs make bad calls, then call technicals.””

    Dave Libbey proved himself to be a bad referee, as if everybody needed a philosophical quote to determine that. In his blog on Thursday, the Arizona Daily Star’s Greg Hansen wrote that Libbey wins the “”worst-ref-ever poll in Tucson, a spot which he has routinely ‘won’ almost every year since 1990.””

    The whistle-happy Libbey has a track record for determining close games, and such was the case Wednesday night in McKale Center.

    With 12.6 seconds remaining, Libbey whistled UA forward Jordan Hill for a moving screen as Arizona ran its last-possession play, down by two points. As the confusion settled, UA associate head coach Mike Dunlap received a technical foul – a series of events UA interim head coach Russ Pennell wouldn’t even speak about after the game, in fear that he would say something he would regret.

    Can you remember a time feeling comfortable – dare say, confident – in a close game? The loss to the Sun Devils marked Arizona’s fourth loss by 6 points or fewer so far this season – three of those losses were by a one-point margin.

    Time isn’t of the essence for the Cardiac ‘Cats, with a 25th consecutive NCAA tournament berth at stake.

    Unlike last year, RPI isn’t on their side

    Losing Wednesday night, Arizona dropped to 11-8 overall and a bigger hole (2-5) in the Pac-10, putting it in eighth place with 11 regular conference games remaining.

    Arizona is currently ranked 81st in the college basketball Ratings Percentage Index (RPI), a system based on strength of schedule (SOS) and quality of wins.

    Last season, the Wildcats were gifted with a strong SOS including key games against Kansas, Texas A&M, Memphis, Illinois and the powerhouse that was the Pac-10.

    Despite finishing 19-15 overall and 8-10 in the Pac-10, the luxury of a strong RPI and SOS essentially pushed Arizona into the NCAA Tournament – the program’s 24th straight appearance – over the Sun Devils, who could only boast Xavier as a strong win.

    It’s a different story this year. Arizona doesn’t have a strong RPI or SOS on their side to compensate for an average record. Without the caliber of opponents of last season’s slate, the Wildcats (51th in SOS) fall behind schools like Evansville, Cleveland State and Bradley in the current RPI, according to RealtimeRPI.com.

    So for now, it’s only wins – good, bad, or ugly – that can help Arizona reach the tournament. This team has lost five of its last seven games, and can’t rely on its schedule alone to make the tournament like last year.

    It doesn’t matter who steps up or leads the team in scoring, whether it’s a role player like Zane Johnson, or a regular team-leader like Jordan Hill.

    Either way, the final result must be a win.

    – Bryan Roy is a journalism sophomore. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

    More to Discover
    Activate Search