Refs Need More Time With Instant Replay. Take VHS Tape Home
It was what they call a "bang-bang" play.
Jacoby Carmichael, the heart and soul of these scrappy Sheboygan Wildcats, drove to the basket with twelve seconds left in regulation. The Northern Michigan State (NMSU) defenders collapsed in the paint leaving Sheboygan center Xavier Lannigan wide open under the basket.
Carmichael, with a little bit of that Milwaukee playground swagger, tossed a no-look pass to Lannigan, but the NMSU defender deflected it with a stray hand. The ball appeared to go off Lannigan’s thigh as it drifted out of bounds.
The ref closest to the action signaled that it went off Sheboygan, meaning NMSU would have the ball with around 10 seconds left, down by two.
And then things got messy.
See the Midwestern Conference has always been historically slow to change its rules of play. Most famous was the decision to keep a 50-second shot clock rather than the 30 seconds the rest of Division 1 college basketball had implemented. Likewise, the board of directors didn’t approve of instant replay until the 2016-17 season. And boy has it been a point of contention ever since.
“Basketball is meant to be played up and down, fast-paced, it’s a momentum sport,” Sheboygan head coach Wayne Arthur said. “These long pauses for instant replay really kill the game. Just make a decision, if it’s wrong, it’s wrong. You can always do a make-up call later on. Our game was just fine for 100 years without instant replay.”
The two refs went over to the monitors for a second look. After a few minutes, both refs looked visibly stressed out, a ton of uncertainty on their faces.
After about five minutes, a man in a red baseball cap stood up a few rows behind the NMSU bench.
“Just make a call, I’ve got dinner plans!” he shouted.
The two hundred people in attendance all laughed then started clapping. One of the refs wiped his brow with the back of his hand.
Ten minutes went by. Then fifteen minutes. The crowd was starting to boo the officials. The small but mighty Sheboygan student section started to chant.
“YOU NEED GLASSES! (CLAP. CLAP. CLAPCLAPCLAP) YOU NEED GLASSES! (CLAP. CLAP. CLAPCLAPCLAP).”
The refs looked at each other, shook their heads. Too close to call. The taller of the two refs leaned over the scorer’s table, motioning for the microphone.
“Attention everyone,” the taller ref addressed the crowd. “Due to the extreme nature of this play, and in an effort to make sure we get this call right, I will be taking home the game tape and reviewing on my big screen TV. It is just too hard to make this decision when looking at a small black and white monitor. My TV at home has stunning 4k resolution, 1080p, 65 inches, and I will be able to make a more informed decision. We will finish the final 10 seconds at 8 a.m. tomorrow morning. Thank you for your patience.”
The two refs jogged off the court. The crowd didn’t fully grasp what hit them until the refs had made it safely to the locker room. There was a delayed chorus of boos. One fan threw his empty container of popcorn onto the court.
I had a chance to catch up with the man in the red baseball cap.
“It’s just ridiculous, now I’ve gotta look for a hotel room,” he said. “And to have the nerve to then brag about his television set, we’re like dude, we don’t care. You got a nice TV, good for you, now let’s play some basketball.”