I guess it should come as a surprise to no one, but yet again the refs got involved in a game between the Buckeyes and the Hurricanes. This time there was no national title on the line and the whole country was not watching. The impact of the call however was significant. With over ten minutes remaining in the first half, Jack McClinton held the ball on the wing in front of the Ohio State bench. OSU guard Anthony Crater swiped at the ball and hit McClinton in the face. In the heat of the moment Jack gave the ball back up top and returned the favor by tapping Crater in the face. The refs did not see it and play resumed until Crater went down to the floor. That's when the Ohio State bench starting lobbying for the refs to do something about their player getting hit. The refs went to the replay monitor and saw what happened and promptly ejected McClinton. You can see the video replay here. Just like that Miami's leading scorer and best player was tossed out of the game. Ohio State went on to win the game 73-68 in the contest that was part of the ACC/Big Ten challenge. More on the call after the break.
First off, if you need to revisit the infamous call that field judge Terry Porter made in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, here it is:
That of course has nothing to do with how the call was made last night but it is relevant to the background of the match-up between these two schools. There should be no mystery of why the McClinton call is drawing ire from the Miami faithful.
Back to the McClinton play . I don't believe Ohio State was calling for a ejection, they just wanted McClinton penalized for hitting Crater. It was a dumb decision by Jack, who has to control his emotions in games. This is not characteristic of McClinton though, a first team All-ACC selection last year, he usually is pretty level headed and was clutch for Miami last season. In a case of referees always seeing the second hit, McClinton never should have retaliated. Was this mistake worthy of ejection though? As announcers Dave O'Brien and Steve Lavin of ESPN tried to make sense of it all, O'Obrien stated that McClinton was being ejected because he drew blood but then received word from the OSU training staff that no blood was drawn.
It was not like this was a haymaker or that McClinton was going after Crater with a closed fist. It was just a swipe at his face in the heat of the moment. I can't understand how the refs can go back to the video and see something they missed and then immediately eject the player. A call needed to be made on McClinton because he was definitely in the wrong, but it should have been a technical foul, (which also counts as a personal) two shots and Ohio State's ball. This would clearly send the message that that kind of play would not be tolerated and if McClinton did anything else the rest of the game it would be a second technical and ejection.
The play robbed the game of its validity. Ohio State won the game, they had more points in the end and came back in the second half from a double digit deficit, but both teams deserved to face each other at full strength especially if a fight did not break out.
Let's take a look at an example. Tyler Hansbrough, last season's player of the year in college basketball. In a game a few seasons ago during an ACC contest against North Carolina State, Hansbrough took a slap at Brandon Costner. He was assessed a technical foul, no blood was drawn. The video quality is shoddy, but here is the play:
Another play involving Hansbrough occured when Gerald Henderson of Duke performed a open-handed slap on Tyler in the final 15 seconds of a game in February of 2007. On this play, Henderson came in with viscious intent and slapped Hansbrough hard in the face. This flagrant foul drew blood and Henderson was ejected. The video is below:
Is there any doubt what McClinton did was more on par with what Hansbrough did against NC State and not what Henderson did to Hansbrough? Would this kind of play drawn an ejection if it was Hansbrough or one of Coach K's players? This to me is indicative of ACC officiating through the past years and what to expect this year. Either missed calls or horrible interpretations of existing calls. I hope this game only ends up mattering in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and not in whether Miami gets in the tournament or not come March.