Sounds pretty ridiculous, right?
I’m sure most of you have heard of the “butterfly effect,” a fun little phenomenon derived from chaos theory. It is generally used to describe how one single event – e.g., a butterfly flapping its wings – could have a far-reaching ripple effect. The idea is that the flapping of one butterfly’s wings, a tiny change in one specific place, can set off a chain of events leading to, in the most famous example, the formation of a “cyclone.” (See where I’m going with this?)
In Ames, IA, inside Hilton Coliseum, with the score of the KU-ISU game at 55-53, Jeff Withey committed an offensive charging foul. It was a terrible call to anyone in the world not wearing red and yellow. It was also a pivotal call in the game, giving Withey his third foul, which would limit his minutes and aggressiveness the rest of the game.
This single foul call nearly cost Kansas the game.
Iowa State Senior, Korie Lucious, stood outside the three-point line in the second half of the same game. A Kansas defender was defending him closely, not willing to let the Cyclones get another wide open 3-pointer up. Lucious sees a streaking teammate and tosses an alley-oop. The pass accidentally goes into the basket for a made three pointer.
This single play nearly cost Kansas the game.
At the same exact game, an Iowa State fan directly in front of me (we’ll call him Jack) took a bite of his pretzel and dripped cheese on his lap. He stood up quickly and attempted to clean himself off. Right about that time, Elijah Johnson was bringing the ball up the court toward the basket in front of me. I stood up so I could see the play. The person behind me stood up so he could see. It set off a chain reaction of people standing all throughout Section 142. Suddenly, Elijah pulled up for a three point shot, his sight line to the basket aiming straight toward Jack, Section 142, and the pretzel cheese. Swish.
Jack and his pretzel cheese cost Iowa State the game.
By now, you probably catch my drift. One play does not a basketball game make. Neither does one whistle, one fluke three-point basket, or one pretzel.
The charge/block call at the end of the game did not decide the game. Elijah is not a butterfly. And Jack is not to blame.
It was one possession of about a billion possessions in an amazing college basketball game. A game where Iowa State scored more three-point baskets than the Cyclones have ever scored in a game.
The Jayhawks were called for more fouls than the Cyclones. The Jayhawks turned the ball over 15 of those billion possessions (Cyclones had 7) and the Jayhawks shot 7 fewer free throws.
I am not here to say the call at the end of the game was a good one. It probably wasn’t. What I’m here to say is that it is unfair to Elijah Johnson, to the Jayhawks, and, frankly, to the Cyclones, to use officiating as a crutch to attempt to explain (or demean) what was easily one of the best college basketball games of the year.
Moreover, it is even more ridiculous that the Big 12 office succumbed to unfounded national media pressure to “review the tape” of that one single possession and then issue a statement on it. If you are going to review a tape, review the entire tape. If you’re going to reprimand a referee, do so with the full story.
Publicly reprimanding the referee did not make any Iowa State fan feel better today. If anything, it probably made them even more upset.
In the end, that play at the end of regulation was not the play that decided the game.
If you subscribe to that line of thinking, then Jack is just as much to blame.
Basketball, BIG 12, Butterfly Effect, college basketball, Elijah Johnson, ESPN, Iowa State, Kansas