While the importance of the upcoming Washington game tomorrow and the way we close the season here is our primary focus, there have been sub-discussions here touching on the potential effect the refs may have tomorrow. It's unusual to be sure to be focused on something that is out of our control in our previews, but it goes to show just what a travesty the officiating has been, not only this season, but historically up in Seattle.
Although there may be incidents that predate this, to me, the genesis of Romar's Thugs was the ugly incident between Tim Morris and our own PAA (Alfred Aboya). UW had an inbounds pass late in the game and Morris was being guarded by Aboya. As the five second count wound down, Morris decided that it wasn't enough to try to throw the ball out of bounds off of Aboya and get another inbounds pass. Instead, he found it necessary to wind up and fire the ball off of Aboya's face at point blank range. This was a guy who was still wearing a mask due to, IIRC, a broken orbital bone. Even Coach was disgusted. And while the thuggish play was disappointing enough, the SPTRs evidently found nothing wrong with this kind of conduct, despite the potential for the ill intentioned punking by Morris to spark something a little less civil between the two teams, had Aboya not been such an unbreakable beast.
Morris apologized after the game, which is something I'll give him a little credit for, however his coach, the Reverend Lorenzo Romar, suggested that Aboya had asked for it, moving into the path of a fully wound up baseball pitch with his face. No remorse. No apology. No disappointment. Just an endorsement by omission. And thus Romar's Thugs were born.
UW has stumbled down the stretch, and the desperation has obviously set in. This is something that the Bruins will have to be prepared for. We should expect, and welcome physical play. However, by all accounts, in UW's latest game against Washington State (at home), Romar's Thugs once again crossed the line between physical play and dirty thug-like tactics, as Venoy Overton unleashed a cheapshot elbow into WSU guard Marcus Capers' back. This problem clearly hasn't resolved itself. Earlier this season, I'm sure we all can recall our first game with UW, wherein Reeves Nelson evidently fouled Isaiah Thomas' arm with his testicles. I understand that the way Reeves plays may make observers describe him has having balls of steel, but that's not an excuse for the refs to pull their patented Mr. Magoo act...again.
It's not like opposing coaches haven't taken notice. We've had fanshots of Cal coach Mike Montgomery's comments from earlier this season:
"They don’t care," he said. "They foul every time at every position, and they aren’t going to call it every time. So ultimately, you are going to get worn down after a while. They are very physical because they are able to play nine guys throughout the game. They just do not care if they foul. They are not going to let you get to the basket."
Now far be it from me to defend a cheater like Monty, but just because he's a cheater that tried to keep us down by slobbering all over Lavinoma as Stanford's head coach doesn't mean he doesn't have a point. Yeah, Cal shot a lot more free throws than UW. Maybe the refs did their job for once, and didn't let UW get away with murder like they usually do. As we've outlined above, the complaints about this punk/thug-like behavior are not unwarranted and are not new, and they predate our Dear Leader Larry Scott's glorious reign over our conference.
Why am I being so harsh on Scott? Maybe it's his reaction to someone pointing out the elephant in the room and trying to improve the terrible quality of officiating in our conference:
"The Pac-10 has specific rules that prohibit our coaches from making public comments about officiating, and this prohibition specifically includes comments that create doubts about the credibility of the Conference’s officiating program. Our coaches are provided the opportunity to address their concerns with the Coordinator of Men’s Basketball Officiating and to the Conference office, and we expect them to adhere to Conference protocol and policies."
With a paper pushing, protocol junkie like Scott in charge, is there any doubt that he and his officials are fully prepared to be Spineless in Seattle? Is there any reason to believe that his "efforts" to bring accountability to our football reffing are going to bear fruit? This guy can't even admit the obvious problems his officials have in front of boisterous home crowds, and he's supposed to bring accountability to his officiating crews? I'll believe it when I see it.
As for tomorrow, it will be Joshua Smith's homecoming, and the freshman surely isn't expecting a welcome reception. He has had some problems in the past dealing with non-basketball related adversity, and the chippy play that Spineless Scott's crew is sure to allow may just be the catalyst for something ugly to happen. If Scott wants to avoid the potential for a full scale public embarrassment for his conference on his hands, he will send a message that the behavior guys like Overton and Thomas have displayed in the past will not be tolerated from his officials.
As for young Joshua, I hope he will heed the words of Ben Ball Warrior PAA:
Bruin forward Alfred Aboya was asked, of course, about the incident where Washington guard Tim Morris threw the ball off of Aboya’s face not to commit a turnover in the final minute of Sunday’s game. Asked if he wanted to punch Morris, Aboya joked, "It was painful, so I had to recover from that first.
He was also quite philosophical about the play. "When something happens to you, you can’t always react right away because it might lead you to a wrong decision. So you have to take a step back.
We expect our Bruins to play hard, play clean, maintain focus, and keep their composure in the most hostile environment they have faced all year. I will throw up the video in case folks need a reminder:
I'd like to expect Scott to grow a pair and control his officials, but history shows that may be a lost cause.
If you have a Twitter account you can bring attention to this issue by tweeting this:
RT @BruinNation How will the @Pac10 address its historically atrocious officiating in Seattle? http://sbn.to/fFoK52
We can always hope that Scott and his staff are paying close attention and will give their officials a note that they will be watching very closely. We certainly will keep an eye on to see how Pac-10 handles it.