The last time Arizona played UCLA, at the Pac-12 Tournament last March in Las Vegas, it affected the integrity of college basketball officiating as we know it. The teams meet for the first time since that game tonight at Pauley Pavilion.
The results of a technical foul called by Pac-12 referee Michael Irving on Arizona coach Sean Miller late in a game won by UCLA 66-64 at the MGM Grand Arena:
— Miller was fined $25,000 for an alleged post-game confrontation of an official and tirade in the vicinity of a conference staff member. Miller also exclaimed “He touched the ball” numerous times in the post-game press conference, questioning why a technical foul was called when replays showed UCLA’s Jordan Adams touched the ball while guarding Arizona’s Mark Lyons, who was whistled for a double-dribble violation at a crucial point in the game.
— Pac-12 director of officials Ed Rush was forced to resign after allegedly placing a bounty on Miller, in which he supposedly offered referees in a meeting room at the MGM Grand $5,000 or a trip to Cancun, if an official called a technical or “rang him up” or “ran him”, meaning an ejection. Rush was enforcing that coaches stay within the coaches box and mentioned to the referees that Miller and his staff should be closely monitored.
Fast-forward to this season, the second week of the conference season is underway with the Pac-12, Mountain West and WAC teaming up to collaborate on officiating. Bobby Dibler, a long-time Mountain West coordinator of officials, is in charge of the programs and of managing a pool of national and regional officials for Pac-12, Mountain West and WAC games.
In the 12 Pac-12 games to this point, 23 different referees have been utilized.
Irving has officiated one of them, Washington’s game at ASU last week. When UCLA swept Arizona in three games last year, Irving, a Los Angeles law enforcement official, officiated all of them. This is not to suggest in any means that Irving played a part in the outcome of the games. It is a statement of fact.
In the 11 games of the Pac-12 tournament last March, a total of 20 officials were used including four that called three games — Tucsonan Chris Rastatter (a Rincon High School grad), former NBA ref Tommy Nunez Jr., Gregory Nixon and Tony Padilla.
Nunez is no longer officiating and is the director of officials for the International Basketball League. Rastatter, Nixon and Padilla have called Pac-12 games in the first two weeks.
Seven officials, including Nunez, used in the Pac-12 tournament last March have not officiated a conference game to this point. Kevin Brill, Daryl Gelinas, Jeff Wooten, Kurt Walker, Brett Nansel and Deldre Carr are the others.
The following three charts involved a few hours of my time putting together data from the 12 conference games to this point. The graphics include an overall view of Pac-12 refs. I will update the data through the season. Here is a brief description of each:
Chart 1: Lists the years the referees have worked college basketball games per statsheet.com. Fourteen of the 24 refs who have called games to this point have at least 18 years of experience.
The conference record shown indicates the cumulative combined conference records of the teams that play in the game called by the ref. For example, Nixon, who officiated in the title game last March between UCLA and Oregon, has worked in games this year that featured four 1-0 teams at the time: Washington at Arizona on Saturday and Oregon at Colorado on Sunday.
The “Rank” column is the number of games called that involve AP Top 25 teams. Also listed are stats related to games called by a referee’s crew: Personal fouls, average of personal fouls, disqualifications, technical fouls, free throw attempts and free-throw attempt average a game.
Chart 2 and 3: Chart 2 indicates the number of overall games called by a ref of a particular conference team. Interesting to note at this point: No referee has called a game for a specific team more than once through the first 12 games of the conference season. That indicates that Dibler made it an emphasis to spread evenly the distribution of games as the weeks go along. Chart 3 has the same principle but indicates only certain locations where the referee called a game.