It Was A Catch….

….and Gene Steratore said so.  Who is Gene Steratore?  He was the guy in stripes who announced to the world that the call on the field was overturned and the pass to Dez Bryant was incomplete.

That’s what makes the situation so sad for the NFL, and NFL fans…not just fans of the Dallas Cowboys.

The Divisional Playoff game between Dallas and Green Bay on Sunday wasn’t decided by the overturned call that took away an apparent Dez Bryant catch, but the call certainly had a huge impact on the game.  Instead of 1st and goal from the one for Dallas, the ball changed hands and Green Bay took over.

The game wasn’t over, but it felt like it was.

The question, of course, is whether or not the NFL correctly applied all of it’s rules.  The answer, despite what Dean Blandino (the NFL’s officiating czar, who ultimately made the call to overturn) says, is no, they did not.

Who says?

Gene Steratore, the referee of the game who made the announcement during the game that the call on the field was overturned.

When did he say it?

After the game.  The referee is always interviewed by a single reporter, and that reporter provides a pool report so that the media has some quotes about the game from an official without the official being subjected to a full-bore press conference.

From Sunday’s pool report:

Although the receiver is possessing the football, he must maintain possession of that football throughout the entire process of the catch. In our judgment, he maintained possession but continued to fall and never had another act common to the game. We deemed that by our judgment to be the full process of the catch, and at the time he lands and the ball hits the ground, it comes loose as it hits the ground, which would make that incomplete; although he re-possesses it, it does contact the ground when he reaches so the repossession is irrelevant because it was ruled an incomplete pass when we had the ball hit the ground.”

It’s really great that he said these things in the order that he did.  It makes my explanation easier.

  1. The referee, Gene Steratore, states that Bryant is possessing the ball.
  2. He then states that Bryant would have had to make a “move common to the game” in order to have a completed catch prior to falling to the ground.
  3. He then states that the ball contacts the ground when Bryant reaches.

Reaches.  Not….”falls”.  Not….”is tripped”.  Not…”stumbles”.  Reaches.

Football players reach…all the time.  Going out of bounds?  Reach forward to try to gain an extra yard as you go out  (Barring some freak injury, I 100% guarantee that Russell Wilson will run out of bounds while reaching forward with the ball at least one time during Sunday’s NFC Championship game).  3rd and 1?  Watch the QB or RB reach out with the ball to try to get a first down.  Near the end zone?  Watch a player reach for the goal line to try to break the plane and score a touchdown.  Scoring is the entire point of the game, after all.

Wait a minute.  Where was Dez Bryant when he, according to the referee of the game, Gene Steratore, reached?  He was moving toward the end zone with the ball.  Reaching is….

an act common to the game

…..which is all it was supposed to have taken, according to Gene Steratore, to make Bryant’s catch a legal one under NFL rules.

So, in a nutshell, according to the guy who announced that the pass was incomplete, it should have been a catch.

It Was A Catch….

The Miami Warmth

The Miami Heat have problems…..big and small.

The small problem, as it turns out, is that they are one loss away from having their season end and they are facing the Celtics in Boston tonight.  It’s not a game they can’t win, but I’m not sure they should win it.

The big problem is that for all the star power they have on their roster, they just aren’t winning consistently in the playoffs.  Even in games that they have won, they haven’t looked very good doing it.

The “small problem” fix is easy.  Head Coach Erik Spoelstra has to get his team to play harder and better.  And that includes playing his third best player as many minutes as possible, no matter whether or not he thinks it’s “fair” to him.  That’s what Spoelstra said after Game 5, a Heat loss that saw Bosh sit on the bench for the entire 4th quarter.

No one in the game for the Heat could contain Kevin Garnett, so the possibility that Bosh may not have been totally ready for the defensive end of the floor isn’t really an issue.  At the other end of the court, Bosh at 50% is better than any of the Heat’s other post options on offense.  His ability to hit mid-range jumpers opens up space in the lane for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to do what they do best, which is attack the rim.  Bosh could have done those things and been a hero for the Heat, which I think is more than “fair”.

But, that’s just talking about this series, this season.  The Heat have bigger problems.

Erik Spoelstra is not a very good head coach.  At least not for this team.  That’s glaringly obvious.  He seems to make suggestions to his players instead of demands.  On a team with players like James, Wade and Bosh, managing egos is a big part of the job, and Spoelstra doesn’t seem up to the task.  On several occasions during this playoff run, his team has looked discombobulated during late-game chances to score and win.  Poor play design, poor execution, and confusion have resulted in losses that could/should have been wins.

As an NC State fan, it pains me to say this, but the Heat should look at the turnaround in the performance of the Wolfpack after Mark Gottfried replaced Sidney Lowe.  Lowe was a beloved player at NCSU, but he proved to be in over his head as the basketball coach at the school.  Gottfried came in and took a team made up of largely the same players to the Sweet 16.  The players were better prepared and the plays were better designed.  If the Heat’s roster stays the same, a new and better coach (preferably a “name” coach who would command respect from the players) could make the team much, much better.

The other problem is a harder to fix, and it may ultimately prove to be a bigger problem than the coaching.  The Heat have three big pieces and some good smaller pieces, but those pieces don’t really work all that well together.  They don’t have very much skilled size, because Bosh is more of a face-up player than a banger.  Their two big perimeter players are both much better at penetrating and drawing contact than they are at shooting.

Their shooters are either not all that great at shooting (Mario Chalmers) or huge liabilities on defense (Mike Miller).  That’s a problem because if you have guys like James and Wade penetrating and drawing attention, you need to have a shooter spotting up to knock down shots…..but he needs to knock down the shots, and he can’t be a revolving door on defense.  Think of Danny Ainge from the great Celtics teams, or John Paxson from the great Jordan-led Bulls teams….you didn’t pay much attention to them until they were wide open making a shot.

The Heat’s post players (other than Bosh) aren’t very good at anything.  They are either past their prime or just not all that talented.  They aren’t very tall, not overly bulky, and they have struggled mightily to defend, rebound or score during these playoffs.  Kevin Garnett, at 36, has made them all look like little boys.

Of course, the roster makeup is dictated in large part by the three huge contracts at the top of the roster.  At that point, you are forced to have a lot of players on exceptions and other low-value contracts, and in the NBA those contracts usually go to players who are either on the downside of their careers or who have never been all that great in the first place.

In their current series, the Heat are going up against the Celtics, who have 4 players making over $10 million.  After the Big 3, the Heat’s next highest paid player is Mike Miller at $5.4 million.  Next is Mario Chalmers at $4 million.  The Celtics have Garnett (over $21 million), Paul Pierce (over $15 million), Ray Allen ($10 million) and Rajon Rondo (also $10 million), and then they also have Jermaine O’Neal making over $6 million.

When you look at the rosters, I’m not sure we should be surprised that Boston is one game away from eliminating the Heat.  It is still entirely possible that the Heat’s Big 3 could all play well and they could ultimately win the series.  But, if the Big 3 just play normally, and it comes down to role players needing to step up, there’s nothing to suggest that they are really ready to do it.

Regardless of how this season ends, in the offseason either the coach or one of the Big 3 needs to be shown the door.  The current combination is not functioning properly, and with all but $2 million of this year’s overall team salary already committed to next year (the Heat spent just over $80 million on salaries this year, and have players under contract next year for over $78 million), there isn’t much room for flexibility if the Big 3 all remain.

Just for fun, think of this:  During the 2010 offseason, when the Heat acquired James and Bosh in free agency, Bosh signed a 6 year, $110 million contract.  Brendan Haywood, who isn’t anywhere close to Bosh as a player but would be a good fit on this Heat team, signed a 6 year, $55 million contract.  If the Heat had chosen to with less “splash” but more depth, they could have signed Haywood and a guy like Raymond Felton, who signed a 2 year, $15 million contract with the New York Knicks that offseason.

Hindsight is fun, huh?

The Miami Warmth

No Blame…Period

Steve Blake had a wide open chance to make a three pointer last night as time expired in the LA Lakers’ game against the OKC Thunder.  If he had made the shot, the Lakers would most likely have won the game to even the series.

Since he missed, the Lakers find themselves headed home from Game 3 down two games to none.

Instead of praising the Thunder for coming back to win a game they probably should have lost (or, conversely, criticizing the Lakers for giving away a game they should have won), people seem to be focusing on that last play. 

Metta World Peace was inbounding the ball with only a few seconds on the clock.  Obviously, the Lakers wanted to get the ball to Kobe Bryant.  Everyone knew that, including the Thunder, who did an outstanding job of making sure that didn’t happen.  Russell Westbrook was watching Kobe fight to get open so intently that he forgot all about Steve Blake, who ran to the corner to make himself available.

World Peace looked for Kobe for a long time, but LA didn’t have any timeouts left so he passed the ball to the wide-open Blake.  Blake took his time, set his feet…..and missed.  It happens.

All of a sudden, people were amazed that someone other than Kobe had taken the shot.  World Peace was crazy for not forcing the ball to Kobe.  Of course, just throwing a pass that Kobe caught would have been an amazing play, as the 6’6″ Kobe was being defended by Kevin Durant (6’9″) and Serge Ibaka (6’10), with a little help from any other member of the team who was nearby. 

Of course the better choice would have been to force that pass to Kobe, who then would obviously have made a desperation jumper over two guys who are much taller than Kobe.  Sure….that’s what would have happened.

The Lakers made plenty of mistakes in the closing 2 or 3 minutes of that game.  You don’t come back from a 7 point deficit in a little over two minutes without a little help from your opponent, and the Thunder finished the game on a 9-0 run to win by two.  But, that last play was not one of the mistakes.  Steve Blake had a chance to make up for 2 1/2 minutes worth of blunders with one shot, but he missed.

It’s doubtful that Kobe would have done any better.

No Blame…Period

UNC, FSU, and `The Scouting Report`

As you probably know, the University of North Carolina went to Tallahassee this weekend and caught a serious beatdown from the Florida State Seminoles, 90-57.

There was a mini-controversy because Roy Williams exited the building with most of his staff and the entire team except for five walk-on/end-of-bench guys with 14 seconds left in the game.

But, I don’t want to talk about that.  It’s not really a big deal, and at this point no one should be surprised that Roy Williams did something a little  – well – prickly. Continue reading “UNC, FSU, and `The Scouting Report`”

UNC, FSU, and `The Scouting Report`

Speechless

Former PSU coach Joe Paterno

What in the world is going on in State College, Pennsylvania?

It’s a rhetorical question.  You know what has happened.  It seems like a bad movie, but it’s real life.

Young boys being fondled, molested…..assaulted……by Jerry Sandusky, a long-time Penn State assistant coach who was also the founder of a charity that purported to help young boys escape bad situations.  Eyewitnesses afraid to call the police.  People in positions of power protecting the pedophile in order to protect an image, instead of protecting children.

In the aftermath, students protesting the firing of a legendary football coach.  Continue reading “Speechless”

Speechless

Well……Duh.

Michael McAdoo had his hearing today.  His request for an injunction was denied.  Is anyone surprised?  I bet these guys are.  The linked post (at Tarheelfanblog.com) is only one of (at least) three recent posts that talk about McAdoo’s situation.

There are people all over the internet who claim that McAdoo is being forced to pay too heavy a price for his transgressions.  Of course, there are all sorts of crazy people on the internet.  That’s why people tell you to keep your kids away from the computer. Continue reading “Well……Duh.”

Well……Duh.