Tuesday, December 11, 2007

BC gets Luckie

Boston College won a game that they did not deserve to win last night and they can thank luck for it or more accurately Jamie Luckie. Luckie is the referee who called a technical foul on Greivis Vasquez with 10:30 left in the game resulting in Vasquez collecting his fifth foul and being disqualified. It is impossible to argue that call didn't influence the final outcome. Perhaps Boston College would have won anyway, which is doubtful in my mind given that Maryland lead for 6 minutes prior to that call and then never lead again, but it irrevocably changed the game. The Terps offense was never the same after Vasquez was disqualified and the defense, usually a good bell weather for a team's mental state, sagged during the following four minutes with a decisive 20-7 run by Boston College.

It is a shame when officials get deluded into thinking that they are as much a part of the game as the players. Luckie has a history of this unfortunate Napoleon complex. Consider:

  • 2005 game between Louisville and Middle Tennessee State. MTSU coach Kermit Davis is assessed an extra technical foul and ejected by Luckie after getting a technical by Karl Hess. Said Davis in the Louisville Courier, "I turned around to take him out when Hess T's me up. And then the other guy, I don't know, he just wanted to throw me out, and he threw me out."

  • The ACC Sports Journal had this to say about Luckie in 2004:
    Another official, Jamie Luckie, has worked multiple conference games in Chapel Hill, Durham and Winston-Salem this season, but he has yet to appear in any league games thus far in Tallahassee, Atlanta, Charlottesville or College Park. Luckie combined with Reggie Cofer and Michael Stuart to call 55 personal fouls in the Maryland-North Carolina game on Feb. 15, and the trigger-happy nature of the threesome was a heavy focus of discussion among spectators as they filed out of the Smith Center. It was not the first time Luckie has been criticized for contributing to an excessive number of fouls in a game. He worked with an SEC crew last winter in the Vanderbilt-Georgia game in Athens that resulted in 66 personal fouls, along with the ejection of Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings.

  • In the semifinal game of the ACC tournament last season between UNC and Boston College Carolina's Roy Williams banged the scorer's table with his fist after the Tarheels turned the ball over on a shot clock violation. Jamie Luckie reportedly ushered Williams back to his bench and then Luckie put his finger to his mouth as a warning not to speak.

  • The Raleigh News and Observer noted the "inconsistent officiating" of a crew that included Luckie in the Duke versus NC State game last season. Duke's Lance Thomas was whistled for 3 fouls in 5 minutes and Greg Paulus picked up two fouls for hand checking that the officials had ignored earlier.

  • In a game between NC State and Florida State in 2006 Luckie gave a technical to the Wolfpack's Engin Atsur after calling a reaching foul on Atsur. Atsur said it was the first time he had ever received a technical foul. We all know what a hothead Atsur was...he made Herb Sendeck look the Great Santini.

  • Luckie officiated a 2006 contest between LSU and Auburn both coaches were given technicals in an 84-69 win by the Tigers. Said LSU coach John Brady "Their coach wasn’t very happy with the officials and neither was I and neither were the players." And he was the WINNING coach!

That was just what I could find with a quick Google search. Luckie seems to have a fetish for taking over games and has an inability to defuse a situation before it escalates. Is it just a coincidence that Luckie was part of the crew that officiated the Duke versus Carolina "bloodsport" game last year in which Tyler Hansbrough had his face smashed or the ACC tournament final between BC and Duke two years ago that almost saw a brawl break out?

In the 2nd half this game turned into a UFC match under the basket and Cliff Tucker, who was hammered with consecutive fouls by Tyrelle Blair that were not called, must have thought he was an extra on Human Weapon.

Almost every statistical indicator would point towards a Maryland victory. Maryland had a better shooting percentage, won the rebounding margin by +6 (including 19 offensive rebounds), had more assists, fewer turnovers, more points off turnovers, points in the paint, fastbreak points, second chance points and steals. The categories that Boston College won: fouls 25-13, 3-point shooting, foul shots 41-16 and, due to lax officiating, 15 blocks. How does a road team shoot 25 more free throws than the opponent? This crew called 28 fouls in the 2nd half, 2o on Maryland alone, after 10 combined fouls in the 1st half. Even adjusting for Maryland's intentional fouling late in the game that is way out of proportion. The Terps started fouling around the 1:45 mark, though the Landon Milbourne foul at that point may not have been intentional. That resulted in 8 fouls and 16 free throws by Boston College. So the Terps were whistled for 12 fouls and BC awarded 9 extra free throws in the 2nd half while only having 5 fouls and 6 free throws in the 1st half. Maryland had three players foul out while the Eagles didn't have a single player record more than 3 fouls.

Vasquez should not have slapped the padding under the basket, but a seasoned and even tempered official would have talked to Vasquez and let him know that he needed to stop any antics like that. Instead Luckie awarded a technical foul on Vasquez from half court whereas the official standing on the baseline near Vasquez who made the foul call did nothing. As you can see from the examples above Luckie has a history of inserting himself into a situation that another official is handling. That isn't sticking up for your crew but trying to be part of the contest. The best officials are the ones who never get their names in the paper for what happened during a game. Luckie made himself part of the story and ruined a fair game between two teams.

As for the game I thought Cliff Tucker played well again. He will have some bad moments but he is looking better and better every week. His floor game and outside shooting are pleasant surprises. He will be a major factor for Maryland in the next few years.

Landon Milbourne had some highlight dunks but didn't really play all that well. His defense reminds me of Mike Jones as reserve Corey Raji came in a lit him up for 9 points in just a few minutes and finished with 17 points in only 18 minutes. Milbourne went 4/14 from the floor in 35 minutes of play.

Braxton Dupree is struggling a bit. He had a tough time finishing against better post players. He rushed his shots too often and was a weak rebounder again.

James Gist had a solid night on the stat sheet. 18 points and 11 rebounds to go with 5 blocks. He was much more aggressive and attacked the basket more often. He did miss three critical free throws during BC's run after the Vasquez technical, turned the ball over 4 times and only scored 3 points in the 6+ minutes after Greivis left the game. It may be unfair but this team needs Gist to come up with these heroics on a regular basis unless one the freshmen starts scoring more.

The backcourt had a very good night. Tyrese Rice only shot 4-12 from the floor and didn't hit a 3-point shot all night. Hayes and Vasquez combined for 13 assists and only 1 turnover but also shot 3-13 from 3-point range and only scored 24 points combined. Perhaps the threes that Tucker and Hayes hit at the end of the game will give them a little confidence going forward. Vasquez continues a wicked shooting slump.

The defense was fairly solid except for the stretch after Vasquez fouled out.

Any home loss in ACC play is bad, especially to a Boston College team that is probably little better than a 7-8 win club this year. The way the team regrouped after getting down after the technical was something to build on. With four losses before Christmas already moral victories don't do you any good at this point. Maryland needs to get on a winning streak starting tomorrow with Ohio.

Defense: 114.0


Anonymous said...

Luckie is a complete idiot. As a Carolina fan (just to disclose), any time a game is officiated poorly - either for or against my team, or just inconsitently - I have made it a point to look at the box score and check out who the ref was. Luckie is almost always involved. He is easily the worst official in the ACC and I really hope that they let him go. Sure, Vasquez shouldn't have done what he did but you're right - calling a technical in that situation is ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

I think you are bailing Vasquez out by blaming the official. I am a huge Maryland fan and I have been disappointed by his play this year. He is supposed to be one of the leaders of this team but he often plays out of control. There was no excuse for him to have four fouls at that point in the game anyway. There have been numerous times this season when the Terps have been on an offensive run only to be stopped by a Vasques ill advised three point attempt. He needs to grow up and soon for the terps to be successfull. I have seen much more growth from Eric Hayes this year and I suspect he will only continue to improve throughout the year.

Esquire said...

I'll be down in Chapel Hill for the Maryland game next month, hope to see you there. I agree with all your points about Luckie. He is the worst sort of official by being both arrogant and incompetent. How do you explain 10 fouls in one half and 20(intentional fouls excluded) in the next? BC got away with all kinds of contact in the lane without any calls by his clown crew. The ACC has a spotty history with officials but this guy needs to get booted. Awful.

To the Greivis hater:

I think way too much ire has been directed at Vasquez this season. He is inconsistent from time to time and makes some bone headed decisions, but that also could describe every other player in the team. You have to live with the good and bad with a player like Vasquez. Maryland is a much better team with Greivis on the floor. It is as simple as that. I can understand your frustration with the enigmatic sophomore but your assigning him the blame for this team's struggles is misplaced in my opinion.

Go to Ken Pomeroy's website and look at the usage statistics. Vasquez has the best combination of percentage of possessions and shots combined with assist rate and offensive rating. His turnover rate is only slightly higher than Eric Hayes. Hayes only had 6 points until the last minute of the game when he hit a few open jumpers. Vasquez had 11 at the point he fouled out. I don't want to trash Hayes but he is only a complementary player at this point. Vasquez does many, many things to help this team win while Hayes is more one dimensional. I really could go on and on about this but if Hayes is the main guard on this team they would have little chance to make the NCAA tournament. He disappears often in games, plays suspect defense and went 11/36 in Maryland's losses. He's getting better but is no savior for this squad.

You are correct that shot selection has been a real problem for Vasquez. He is shooting over 50% from 2-point range and only 23% from 3-point range. I'd like to see him make some better choices but his mistakes are hardly the main thing holding this team back.

James said...

I've been reading your blog for way too long to not leave a comment yet. You write very well-balanced, well-written commentary, and this is just about the best (that includes most accurate) piece of sports writing I have ever seen. Your research, citations, and quotations even are more than professional. I love that you call it exactly as you see it, and not how you would like to see it. You don't settle for the easy answers, and you look deeper (like using KenPom for example). I really enjoy reading your commentary a lot.

Keep writing!! :)

James said...

Oh, and just curious... I feel like I remember "Duke" Edsall as being very inconsistent, and possibly anti-Maryland (I think it was he who quasi-threatened Gary Williams, "I'll see *you* again in the ACC tournament!!"). He might've stopped using his nickname because it is the name of an ACC school... have you noticed anything about this guy or is it my imagination?

Esquire said...

Thanks, James. I appreciate the kind words. I love Maryland sports, especially basketball, probably too much. It kills me to see this team struggle the way it has this season. I get as mad and frustrated as anyone watching them from the stands or on TV. At the same time a little perspective never hurts. The last few years have been bad. John Gilchrist going mental, Strawberry blowing his knee out, Chris McCray flunking off the team. Any one of those things probably responsible for an NIT bid instead of the NCAAs. UNC went 8-20 a few years back, Duke was horrible in 1995, look at Kentucky this year. It happens and Maryland has no reason to be immune to it.

I follow college sports more intently than I used to and it has helped keep me informed and help shape what can be a rather parochial view when you follow one school like a fanatic.

I know there are many Maryland fans who would agree with your feelings about Edsall. Karl Hess was another guy who had some real problems earlier in his career. A dirty little secret about college sports is how terrible the quality of officiating is these days. This is a multi-billion dollar business with guys who have criminal records deciding games (see the Big Ten scandal recently.)

It is appalling.