The butterfly effect: A story of the KU, ISU basketball game

Posted on: February 26th, 2013 by jayhawktalk 54 Comments

A butterfly flaps its wings … and the Jayhawks win a ninth straight Big 12 title.

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.


Tags: , , , , , , ,

54 Responses

  1. Mike says:

    Thanks for putting things in perspective. Tired of all the whining.

    ISU is a great team but, after the fans threw trash at the players and one tried to physically confront Self, they need to move on and put this one behind them. Not exactly their finest moment.

  2. KU ALUM says:

    We all are tired of listening to complaining ISU fans, but at this point the loudest whining can be heard from our own corner. Give it a break and move on! This will only attract more attention to that last awful call of the game.

    • Indiana Jayhawk says:

      I do agree that KU fans have become really defensive. But unfortunately the way that all fans of other programs and the national media always team up AGAINST them makes the fans that way. Idiots like Forde, Katz and others have been talking non-stop about how KU didn’t deserve the game. About how ISU got robbed. So what’s a Jayhawk fan to do? Become defensive and list countless other “questionable” calls made in that game. It is strange to see a team shoot as many threes as ISU did (41) and still shoot 34 FTs. In fact, the perimeter oriented Cyclones shot SEVEN more FTs that the post oriented Jayhawks. This game wasn’t “stolen” from ISU.

    • Framcjeu says:

      What a pity party. Ya gotta have something to whine about. What you need is to get over the pouting and resume playing your arch enemy again.

  3. Heidi says:

    It has always bothered me when people blame the refs. If a team plays hard enough and well enough they win. I’ve never seen a team play a flawless game.

  4. Kellen says:

    Your sarcasm and snoody comments throughout this whole article is why most people hate KU and their fans. You are a prime example of someone with a superiority complex, like most KU fans. I would guarentee that if the end of the game happened the opposite way you would be writing an article about how that play cost KU another conference title. KU fans like you make me sick bc you think your shit doesn’t stink and no matter what anyone says KU is god. I hope and pray that all fans like you can feel the pain of losing. I hope you feel the pain of reality and learn to win with class. Elijah Johnson dunking at the end of that game is a prime example of what KU fans and players represent…bad sportsmanship. If anything Elijah should be humble bc in reality he turned the ball over on a charge at the end of the game and got lucky it wasn’t called. He should be humble bc he almost single handedly lost the game with another turnover at the end like he has done so many time before. AND last but not least YOU should be humble bc you are lucky to have a team that is so fortunate to be a program like KU. But instead you are a loser and write an article like this. How do you think Iowa St fans feel? Put yourself in their shoes. Grow up man and actually be a fan of your alma mater bc I could probably guess its not KU, also like most KU fans, jump on the bandwagon.

    • jayhawktalk says:

      Thanks for reading, Kellen, but I think you might have missed the point of this post. The point was that the Big 12 made this game about one possession by reviewing the tape and issuing a statement. I believe that is shortsighted and unfair to the rest of the game. Above, I said that I believe the call at the end of the game was a bad one, but there were multiple opportunities for both teams to win without the benefit of one single call or no-call. I will remind you that KU was called for more fouls than Iowa State, which is even more hard to believe given the fact that Iowa State was by and large a jump shooting team the entire game. It was an amazing game, an amazing individual performance by Elijah Johnson, an amazing shooting performance by Iowa State, that should not, in any world, have an asterisk next to it. Cheers.

    • jayhawk judy says:

      We know exactly how you feel! We’ve lost some heartbreakers, too! Most of us recognize that we’re spoiled. We just love our team, like all fans.

    • Free Karl says:

      Superiority complexes can’t exist without inferiority complexes.

    • jhawkgal4 says:

      Yes, because no one ever wrote an article with sarcasm. Give me a freaking break. As KU fans, we’ve suffered countless ‘heartbreakers.’ Each one hurts worse than the last. The point of this article was to put this situation into perspective.
      After an ENTIRE game of shitty calls on both ends of the court, the Big 12 decides to “review” a SINGLE call, an action that I’m convinced was to shut the ISU fans up. And what did they get out of it? Nothing. The refs get a slap on the hand, and as a result of nothing being done we as a conference will suffer through MORE poorly-called games.
      And ELIJAH scored 39 points, so you saying he “almost single handedly lost the game” is total bullshit.
      Get off your high horse and see it from OUR perspective. We won a game, fair and square. We outscored them in OT. And we managed to do it all even after they scored a record high of 17 3′s.
      Why don’t you just jump OFF the “let’s beat down KU because they’re actually good and we’re just bitter” bandwagon? Because it’s annoying.

    • Scott says:

      Most people hate KU fans because KU has DOMINATED the Big 12 for the past decade and had FAR more success than any other basketball team in the Big 12 in the history of basketball.

      All teams fans are seen as defensive and seen as acting superior to all other teams – that’s sports.

    • Captain K says:

      Wow Kellen, your comments are very strong and in my opinion don’t have a lot of foundation. You read way too much into that article. Guy has an opinion and I didn’t see much, if any superiority complex in it. KU doesn’t have the corner on ugly fans, as you have just proved. I cringe at fans just like you at KU, Missouri, and K-State. It’s hard to suffer a game in which the officiating may have influenced the outcome. Unfortunately is is the worst part of otherwise a very enjoyable sport. A lot of people are handing KU the Big 12 title, well they still have 3 games to play and we’ve seen what can happen. All K-State and KU have to do is win out and they have at the worst a share of the title, but I’ll say this isn’t over yet…I could see a three way tie between OSU, KSU and KU happening.

    • Realist says:

      “MOST” Jayhawk fans? So you personally know the majority of the Jayhawk fans? No really, so, if there were only 500 Jayhawk fans, you are saying that you know “MOST” of them, meaning say….251-499 of them? Seriously, before you respond to an article/post, relax, take a deep breath/shot of tequila, then write a respectful response that actually pertains to the topic of the article you are responding to. How is your new computer? I’m assuming you had to buy a new one after that post, because tension in your writing seemed to be that of someone clearly pissed off enough to destroy the keyboard while typing/pounding the message.

    • RockChalk90210 says:

      This article is in response to a huge controversy, spurred on by the media. Of course Jayhawk nation is going to push back. How is it KU fans continue to be accused of superiority complex and being aholes when it is the fans of other Big 12 teams who throw the insults in the media and physically throw junk at our players on the court and literally try to hurt our team? It’s been going on for decades, particularly at KSU. That crap would never be tolerated at The Phog. So yah, in that respect, our sh*t DON”T stink, whereas other fans’ does. And FYI – EJ apologized immediately that he let his emotions get the best of him on the last dunk – he’s a class act, as is the entire team and coaching staff. Hoiberg is a genius and he will do great things. But some of the ISU fans acted like 12 year olds.

    • Scott says:

      Wow with that attitude it’s a wonder you haven’t been committed to an asylum somewhere. I am a KU fan and have never once blamed the refs there are bad calls in every game I have ever watched KUs and everyone else’s too. Refs are humans and are bound to make mistakes. I am a KU fan but a college basketball fanatic. Don’t say that all KU fans and players are bad sports cause you don’t have a clue. KU will always be my favorite team but when they don’t play well I don’t blame the refs and I for sure don’t blame or slam the other team or their fans. Sounds to me like you need a Valium script. Truly ROCK CHALK FAN

  5. D says:

    This is perfect to silence all critics! Rock chalk!

  6. Indiana Jayhawk says:

    What about Marcus Smart doing backflips on Naismith court? Where was the outrage from fans of other Big XII teams about that? Are people calling Oladipo and IU “classless?” Or do the Jayhawk haters not pay attention to any other college basketball? Because THIS definitely happened and I haven’t heard ANYONE call IU “classless.”

  7. James says:

    Kellen sounds grumpy. Imagine how much free time he would have if he didn’t spend all day reading articles written by people that he hates!

  8. Bill says:

    Can you read? They reviewed the entire tape as they do with every game. Go ahead and slant the facts to support your opinion. That is pretty typical of most Jayhawks.

    • jayhawktalk says:

      Direct quote at issue: “The Big 12 Conference acknowledges that officiating errors were made at the end of regulation during last night’s Kansas at Iowa State men’s basketball game.”

    • jhawkgal4 says:

      ^Lawyered. Sorry, Bill.

      • Hoff says:

        His point was that they reviewed the ENTIRE tape.. That comment doesn’t disprove his statement.

        • TomsnLA says:

          To Bill and Hoff: Where does it say “that they reviewed the entire tape? Not on the official Big 12 website. How did you guys inferred from “acknowledges that officiating errors were made AT THE END OF REGULATION..” and “THE PLAYS HAVE BEEN REVIEWED..” to mean the entire game?

          From the Big 12′s site: (IRVING, TX – The Big 12 Conference has released a statement regarding the officiating during the Kansas at Iowa State men’s basketball game on Monday, February 25. This will be the only public statement by the Conference on the matter.)

          The Big 12 Conference acknowledges that officiating errors were made at the end of regulation during last night’s Kansas at Iowa State men’s basketball game. The plays have been reviewed and appropriate measures will be taken by the Coordinator of Men’s Basketball Officials to adjust the number of future assignments for the two officials involved in conjunction with Conference policies.

          • Hoff says:

            TomsnLA… LA as in Los Angeles? If so, when did you decide to hop on the BANDWAGON?

          • Hoff says:

            Almost forgot… Every game is reviewed. Every collegiate basketball game is reviewed in its entirety, whether the officiating in the game was atrocious or not.

          • jayhawktalk says:

            Indeed. Which is exactly what the Big 12 should have said. Here’s what I would have liked to have seen from the Big 12:

            “The Big 12 office is committed to reviewing and improving officiating in our league games. As a result, we are constantly reviewing game tape and providing feedback to officials that work our games. From time to time, we will privately reprimand or suspend an individual official or team of officials as a result of our internal review. Consistent with our normal procedures, we have reviewed the entire game tape of Monday’s Kansas-Iowa State game and will handle all potential officiating errors discovered by this review internally.”

            Doesn’t incite a riot. Gets same point across. Doesn’t scar the game.

          • Hoff says:

            I completely agree.

        • KCgal says:

          Nor does it it prove it.

        • Davey says:

          Where is his proof that they reviewed the entire tape?

  9. Scott says:

    And if ISU makes 2 free throws instead of 1 at the end of the game Elijah pulls up for a 3-pointer or passes long before getting to the basket for a block/charge.

    Great article – spot on. ISU did not lose, nor did Kansas win that game because a single call or even a series of bad calls. No team ever does. If ISU wanted to win they should have made 1 more free throw, or made one more play at any point in the 40 minutes of regulation or shown up for OT.

  10. Big B says:

    Sure, lots of plays and calls went into the result, but the calls at the critical, late moments are what will be remembered as deciding the fate. Just as many mistakes were made in the design, construction and navigation of the Titanic, it is that late, critical moment — when it hit the iceberg and sank — that is remembered as decisive.

  11. BeaktheHaters says:

    I love the haters! As a KU fan I don’t know who’s worse the bad KU fans or the others that whine because we are on top year after year. Well if you get that much hate you must be doing something right!

  12. Scoot says:

    I get why this discussion has been dragged on for so long on media outlets and the like. But man, it’s really too bad that the actual GAME has been overlooked as a result. This was simply one of the most fantastic CBB games I’ve seen in years. Historic. So many storylines, one of which being a highly criticized senior, who must have been having the most frustrating/heartbreaking/personally-disappointing periods of his young life, shaking a monkey off his back and going unconscious for 39 points. The kid earned that dunk, by the way.

    Instead the game gets dragged through the mud over a freaking call at the end that didn’t win or lose the game for anyone. It simply put one team in a position to tie, which they did, with ICE in their veins. OT was the real game, and showed each team’s true colors. The winners wore crimson and blue, and THAT is what ISU fans are REALLY upset about.

  13. Cindy Biehler says:

    KU didn’t deserve to be handed that win on a silver platter. At least the team I am for in the BIG XII EARNS the spot they are in. KU Doesn’t have to earn anything–they get it served to them.

    • B Champ says:

      The team you root for earns the spot they are in? Ok they have. But they were also owned by the team I root for…twice. Neither of those games were handed to KU. In fact they completely dominated them in Lawrence and a double digit win at the Hawkagon of Doom was nice as well. If your team could actually beat KU once in a while…they would be in sole possession of 1st place. So keep complaining about KU winning championships, and I’ll keep rooting for a team doesn’t get dominated by their in-state rival in their own gym.

    • Scoot says:

      Sorry, Cindy. Getting “served” a win is Arizona beating Colorado off of a legitimate 3 that was waived. If Johnson’s free throws had put KU in the lead, I would agree they had been “served” a tainted win. But he had to actually MAKE both of those high-pressure free throws, which he did, just to TIE. Not to win. ISU still had nearly 5 seconds to respond (the same amount of time it took EJ to make it down the court just 10 seconds earlier), and instead they settled for OT. How they performed over the next 5 minutes earned them the result.

      I’m an objective fan. It was a mistake on the court. The no-call would have driven me crazy if I was on the other end of it, and I would have blamed the loss on the officials. See last year’s KU loss at Mizzou and you’ll understand we actually know how you feel. But looking at the entire game as a whole, there were SO MANY bad calls that affected the outcome, it’s just sour grapes to say KU doesn’t “earn anything.” With all due respect to the players at ISU, they will never understand what it’s like to get every team’s best shot, every. single. night. They earn their rewards like few teams have to.

    • KSArtguy says:

      Cindy, if we saw the same game, then the score was tied at the start of OT. ISU had the same chance to win as KU and got smoked. What this sounds like is that ISU didn’t get the win handed to them in regulation and threw it away in OT.

  14. donna says:


  15. [...] Much has been made about the Big 12 statement that was issued on Tuesday regarding the Kansas-Iowa State game. I made a pretty big deal out of it in this story. [...]

  16. TomsnLA says:

    Hoff, dude, you have to stop inferring- just ask if you don’t know or unsure. I’m from SoCal, attended KU from 2007-11, and now I am back. Who are you a fan of btw? (See that? I didn’t attempt to infer , I asked.)

    • Hoff says:

      I’m a K’State fan. That’s fine that you attended KU, more power to you for not jumping on the bandwagon. I didn’t just assume that they reviewed the entire game though.. Do a little research and you’ll find out that all the games are reviewed to provide the referees with feedback.

  17. realist says:

    if the shoes were turned most of you would be upset. i was taught to earn things honestly not by being handed something because of someones mistake. if that is how kansas fans feels victory by getting it by default then ?

    • RockChalk90210 says:

      Actually had they called a charge it would’ve made sense to this KU fan and I was already exasperated at the crappy officiating both ways at that point anyway, having given up on a win b/c the refs were letting ISU hack us to death and awarding ISU too many free throws – from a 3 point shooting team that didn’t drive the lane! I’m all for the let the players decide at the end of the game, barring an egregious intentional and violent foul. That last play was just good hard basketball. The called foul on the floor on the other hand was pretty ticky tack.

      • Don'tBeThatGuy says:

        i’m pretty sure he means if it would’ve been KU not getting an obvious charge call you wouldn’t think this was no big deal

        not that hard to understand….

  18. John says:

    In total agreement with the main thrust of the article…endless contingencies. My hammering point has been that ISU didn’t ice the game at the end and thus put themselves at the mercy of a miracle shot/bad call/act of god.
    An aside, billions of possessions? Ummm, a billion is a pretty big number even for hyperbole…just sayin’ RCJH

  19. peakers82 says:

    While I understand the point of the article and I somewhat agree. This misses a very important point in my opinion that has nothing to do with who won the game. When Elijah Johnson drove to the basket in the last 10 seconds, the problem is not only that a charge was not called. For the record, it was clearly a charge but no foul was called at all. The foul wasn’t called until Johnson and Niang were rolling around on the floor. Despite any other call in the game, when an offensive player runs into a defensive player under the basket like that the whistle has to blow and it didn’t. The Big 12 had to address the that fact.

  20. Pam says:

    Refs make wrong calls off and on but the whole game it what it comes to..I loved it and I am sorry Iowa but it is life !!

  21. Psch says:

    If the Jayhawk fans would just admit that they should have lost than everyone would shut up about it.

  22. TFOE says:

    Big 12 officials are the unbiased party in this equation. For them to come out and say their guy made calls bad enough to warrant “actions to be taken” means he really goofed.
    As far as Elijah, KARMA that you lose to Michigan after he takes a cheap, classless shot at McGary. Then he passes up a LAY-UP to kick it out for a 3 pointer to win.
    I am glad he is a senior and KU will be better off without him next year.
    Up 8 points with 1:30 on the clock? Like most years…RockCHOKE Jayhawk in the NCAA!

Leave a Reply