Immediately following the NCAA Championship game on Monday night between the North Carolina Tarheels and the Gonzaga Bulldogs, complaints began to file in via social media regarding how the game was officiated. Not many people were necessarily upset in that they felt that was team was treated more favorably than the other, but the fans were unpleased with the sheer number of foul calls made. As a former official, although not specifically for basketball, I have to say that I didn’t have a problem with the way the game was called.
If you have ever officiated a sporting event, or even if you’ve just played in one, you more than likely expect just one thing from the referees: consistency. That’s exactly what was delivered in the game Monday night. While Gonzaga focuses slightly more on their guard play, both teams involved like to get the ball inside and play above the rim. North Carolina crashes the offensive boards harder than any other team in the nation, and Gonzaga likes to go inside to Karnowski to look for either scores or passes back out – either way, both teams spend a lot of time in the paint as opposed to the perimeter. Due to the nature of the game, that style of play is going to lead to more fouls to begin with.
On top of that, the number of foul calls weren’t absurd. It’s not as if both teams had three players foul out or something, as a matter of fact, only one player in the whole game fouled out. I know that doesn’t quite cover the extent of it as a few players from each side had to be cautious with their minutes and aggressiveness as the fouls racked up. The game might have been slightly less interesting to watch due to the extra stoppages, and brief moments where the teams didn’t have their best five on the court, but at least the game was called fairly and consistently. Nobody (trust me, I was cheering for Gonzaga) walked away saying, “that game was unfair and the refs blew it,” they were just saying, “wow there were a lot of fouls and it took away from the game.” So while it may not have been completely ideal, I think spectators are getting annoyed by an extra two or three whistles, which is ridiculous for a set of human officials.