Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats, ASU reflection of each coach’s style when it comes to officiating



EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to the controversy surrounding Sean Miller’s technical foul in last year’s Pac-12 Tournament, an event in which former Pac-12 director of officiating Ed Rush reportedly placed a bounty on Miller to be thrown out or given a technical, this site will monitor the league’s officials during the course of the season through the conference tournament in March. The integrity of the game and its officiating was called into question by Rush’s actions, which ultimately led to his resignation.

Arizona Wildcats coach Sean Miller is part of Herb Sendek’s coaching tree, so it’s no surprise Arizona and ASU are showing the same results with fouls called and their number of free-throw attempts in Pac-12 games.

Miller and Sendek coach players who can operate in transition (Nick Johnson and Jahii Carson, respectively), but they also stress strong halfcourt-execution fundamentals with an inside presence (Kaleb Tarczewski and Jordan Bachynski, respectively).

The results are similar in the way their games are officiated because of an aggressive, yet disciplined style.

ASU coach Herb Sendek, left, had UA coach Sean Miller on his staffs at Miami of Ohio and N.C. State for seven years

ASU coach Herb Sendek, left, had UA coach Sean Miller on his staffs at Miami of Ohio and N.C. State for seven years

Arizona is second in the Pac-12 with a personal-foul differential of plus-33 in conference games, trailing Colorado (plus-49). The Sun Devils are fifth at plus-17.

The Wildcats are second in free-throw-attempt differential with a plus-85, trailing Colorado’s unbelievable mark of plus-123. ASU is at No. 3 with a plus-70 mark.

The game Friday should be very interesting because ASU has the motivation of trying to gain face after last month’s 91-68 drubbing at McKale Center with Jermaine Marshall on the bench with a groin injury. Arizona will try to prove it can handle winning on the road without Brandon Ashley.

For those who closely observe how a game is officiated, including yours truly, it will be interesting to watch how the refs will impact the game. Foul trouble will be an important factor in this game.

Michael Irving Watch: The official who gave Sean Miller a technical foul in last year’s Pac-12 tournament has yet to officiate an Arizona game. He has officiated three Washington games.

Welcome: The Pac-12 introduced two more officials last weekend and is now up to an incredible 51 different refs used.

Whistle-happy: In five games, veteran ref Bob Staffen leads all Pac-12 officials with an average of 42.8 personal fouls and 54.4 free-throw attempts (including his crews).

Swallowed whistle: Kevin Brill’s crews have called league-low averages of only 30.2 fouls and 26.8 free-throw attempts in five games. The next lowest is Bill Vinovich at 37.8.

Biggest homer?: David Hall and his crews continue to have this distinction with home teams getting 42 more calls and 66 more free-throw attempts than visitors in the eight games he’s officiated. He worked the Arizona-Oregon game last week. The Wildcats had 15 more free-throw attempts than the visiting Ducks (although they did not take advantage of that) and Oregon was called for eight more fouls.

Thick-skinned: This honor now goes to Larry Spaulding, whose crews have called a league-high 26 more fouls on home teams in six games. Visiting teams have also attempted 37 more free throws than home teams in games Spaulding has called.

Most used: Randy McCall and Verne Harris have officiated 11 games. They are the only refs in double-digit games. McCall has officiated a game involving every conference team except Stanford. Harris has yet to officiate an ASU game. That should change this Friday given the game’s magnitude between Arizona and ASU.

Least used: Twelve of the 51 referees used to this point have called only one game.

The following five charts involved a few hours of my time putting together data of league referees. I will update the data through the season. Here is a brief description of each:

Chart 1 and 2: Chart 1 indicates the referees who have officiated at least three Pac-12 games in the first four weeks of the season. Chart 2 lists all officials.

Within Chart 2, it first lists the years the referees have worked college basketball games per

The conference record shown indicates the cumulative combined conference records of the teams at the time they played in the game called by the ref.

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.

Other columns: PFDiff — Difference between fouls of home and away teams (a minus score reflects more calls made for the visitor), and FTDiff — Difference between free-throw attempts of home and away teams (again, a minus score reflects more calls made for the visitor).

Chart 3 and 4: Chart 3 indicates the number of overall games called by a ref of a particular conference team. Chart 4 has the same principle but indicates only certain locations where the referee called a game.

Chart 5: Indicates difference of calls made for a team at home compared to on the road in Pac-12 games. HPFDIFF stands for “Home Personal Foul Difference” compared calls to visitors. HFTDIFF stands for “Home Free Throw (attempts) compared to visitors. The same principle applies for when on the road for APFDIFF and AFTDIFF. The total of each category is signified with TotPFD and TotFTD.


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[csv src=] publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.


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