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Officials in a bind with video review

Thu., April 4, 2013, midnight

Liberal use of replay has led to numerous untimely stoppages. (Associated Press)
Liberal use of replay has led to numerous untimely stoppages. (Associated Press)

It happens seemingly every game of the NCAA tournament: Officials blow their whistles, huddle, then head over to the TV monitors to review a play.

Looking to see if the clock is right, a shot was a 3-pointer or if an elbow to the head warrants a flagrant foul, they watch the replays from all angles as coaches and players huddle, fans in the stands and TV wait for the action to start again.

The goal is to make sure the officials get the calls correct.

But in the process of trying to be right, they’re also disrupting the rhythm of the games, dampening excitement and possibly giving some coaches the advantage of an extra timeout.

Instant replay has been a part of college basketball since 1986. The initial purpose was for replays to be used to correct timing and scoring errors and was later expanded to look at whether a player was behind the line on a 3-point shot and flagrant fouls.

Coaches, players and fans have debated the use of instant replay pretty much since the day it was put in place.

One of the biggest complaints, particularly during the NCAA tournament, has been about officials stopping games to check the game clock, then adding a few tenths of a second back.

Stopping the clock also may give some teams an unfair advantage, giving a coach what’s essentially an extra timeout to diagram a play while the officials look at the replay monitor.

In the second round of the NCAA tournament, Davidson was leading Marquette by a point when it lost the ball out of bounds. Marquette didn’t have a timeout left, but the officials gathered around the monitor to get the game clock right, giving coach Buzz Williams a chance to call his players over to draw up a play.

The officials added 1.2 seconds to the clock – to 6.7 – and Marquette’s Vander Blue scored on a last-second layup to give the Golden Eagles a 59-58 win and avoid the upset.

“Unfair advantage,” Davidson coach Bob McKillop said after being asked about Marquette getting what was essentially an extra timeout. “Maybe (in that situation) they shouldn’t let them huddle.”


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