Mike Rice “I haven’t gone back to it, but again I’m confident these guys are the best referees in the country.”March 10, 2011 – 7:00 am by Steven Cuce
Fran Fraschilla noted on the telecast of St.John’s versus Rutgers that the officials simply stopped officiating the game in the last minute. The Johnnies held on 65-63 in a wild finish over the Scarlet Knights at Madison Square Garden yesterday in 2011 Big East Tournament second round action. MSG has had a special importance of home court advantage for St.John’s in their return to national prominence and the trend continued in this contest. It seemed as though two turnovers were not called in the final three seconds of the contest where it seemed evident that there had been an injustice for Rutgers.
The last minute of the game featured the power of two with two lead changes, two turnovers that were called, two turnovers that should have been called, two missed free throws and the icing on the cake came when St.John’s senior forward, Justin Brownlee, after grabbing a loose ball ran down the sidelines by the scorers table, taking a couple of extra steps. He then threw the ball out of bounds in the stands as there appeared to be 1.7 seconds remaining on the game clock. The officiating crew of Jim Burr, Tim Higgins and Earl Walton walked off the court without even questioning whether or not Brownlee had stepped out of bounds. Game over. Another “March Madness” controversy on our hands. Big East commissioner John Marinatto issued a statement about 40 minutes after the contest commenced explaining that there were two errors made by this veteran officiating crew as it has become evident that all the parties involved wanted to stress that the officials weren’t rookies. That doesn’t make the news any easier for the Rutgers basketball program or fans. St.John’s moves onto the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament today taking on fourth-seeded and 11th-ranked Syracuse.
Mike Rice joined WFAN in New York with Mike Francesa to discuss when he become aware that Justin Brownlee did step out of bounds at the end of the game and that there should have been time put back on the clock, is there any question about whether there was time remaining for his team to have a shot at winning the ball game, did any of the calls the referees may have missed in in the last minute specifically outrage him, does he under any circumstance expect the Big East committee to overturn the play and replay the last 1.6 seconds remaining [not official time left] and was he surprised down three coming up the floor with 17 seconds left that St.John’s fouled or did he expect it.
When did you become aware that [Justin] Brownlee did step out of bounds at the end of the game and there should have been time put back on the clock?
“Actually the SID [Rutgers Sports Information Director] has an iPhone. We watched it on YouTube. I mean again it clearly is a mistake. They clearly are some of the best, most veteran referees in the Big East [Jim Burr, Tim Higgins and Earl Walton]. Again, I tell my guys every day you can’t control what happens. You can control how you respond and I made a lot of mistakes today Mike. Hopefully they go back and review the procedures of that because it was very interesting if somebody could look with 1.8 seconds and we get the ball with a chance.”
This is a reviewable situation. [Justin] Brownlee stepped out of bounds. You should have the ball with 1.6 seconds remaining. I don’t think there’s any question about it?
“Again, I love that your passion for justice but it is what it is. That’s not going to happen. Yeah it should be interesting what takes place next, whether it’s a statement, or whether somebody will talk to the media. I’m just very proud Mike of the way our guys kept fighting down ten with three minutes left to go. This team they have a toughness about them.”
Did any of the calls the referees may have missed in your opinion there in the last minute specifically outrage you?
“Yes and no. Mike, it’s a judgement call. Every time they blow the whistle and show. Every coach wants it to go their way, so yeah I thought maybe there was a couple of times where Mike, especially on the last play where he drove, but again that’s a judgement call. These [officials] are the best we have. Those veterans guys that we have, so I have to believe they made the right calls. I haven’t gone back to it, but again I’m confident these guys are the best referees in the country.”
You don’t expect under any circumstance expect the Big East committee will give your team a chance to replay the last 1.6 seconds remaining?
“I under no circumstances do I think that the Big East will let us go back on the floor with 1.7 seconds.”
Where you surprised down three coming up the floor with 17 seconds left that they fouled or did you expect it?
“You know what you have different beliefs especially after watching what we did last night. Maybe he changed some of his beliefs. From everybody, especially we had a conversation yesterday, I still probably believe and I believe in my defense that switches out and defends. That’s the reason why you don’t do it because we pressed and now we get the ball with you know how many seconds left because they turn it over. That’s a tough thing to do give somebody 2 points and give them an opportunity to press. It is what it is. It’s an incredible last 5 minutes to be honest with you. It is like a blur right now Mike because of everything that took place, but as you said the toughness that this team showed. The second chance points from the big-time shots we hit. I am very proud of them.”