Arizona Basketball

Pac-12 refs: Every call relevant whether it determines outcome or not



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.

The biggest misnomer about the criticism of the referee crew for the Arizona-Arizona State game is that people whined and complained that David Hall, Randy McCall and Mike Reed cost the Wildcats the game.

My scrutiny of the referees has absolutely nothing to do with the outcome. It has everything to do with making the right call. If a ref does not have it in him to call a technical foul on Jahii Carson for performing chinups on the rim, why even have that hanging-on-the-rim call in the rule book?

I got into a little Twitter give-and-take with ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, who rightfully so does not want referees to determine the outcome of a game in the waning seconds. Makes sense. But that was not my point on the non-call concerning Carson hanging on the rim following a dunk in the last second of ASU’s 69-66 double-overtime victory at Wells Fargo Arena.

Arizona coach Sean Miller echoed Goodman’s way of thinking in his press conference Monday, saying, “The game was filled with moments where each team could have won or lost and we were on the wrong end of that. But we lost the game and … really the last play or circumstances beyond the shot block (by ASU’s Jordan Bachynski) is irrelevant.”

My contention is that every call is relevant.

In the night before Arizona played ASU, Hall was part of the officiating crew that called a technical foul on USC freshman Strahinja Gavrilovic for hanging on the rim following a breakaway dunk against visiting Utah. Why was a technical called on Gavrilovic and not Carson? That’s all I am asking.

The referees’ credibility and performance should be scrutinized. The intention of tracking the Pac-12 refs this season in this space is to monitor how the games are called, especially after what happened with Rush during the conference tournament last season.

The intention is not about how a team gets screwed by the refs, although if that happens, it will definitely be scrutinized. Arizona did not get screwed by the refs Friday. The refs screwed themselves in terms of their credibility.

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

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). Interesting to note: Staffen has not officiated a Pac-12 game since Feb. 1.

Swallowed whistle: Kevin Brill’s crews have called league-low averages of only 30 fouls and 27.8 free-throw attempts in six games. The next lowest is Tom Nunez at 37.5.

Biggest homer?: McCall and his crews have this distinction with home teams getting 38 more calls and 57 more free-throw attempts than visitors in the 13 games he’s officiated.

Thick-skinned: This honor now goes to Larry Spaulding, whose crews have called a league-high 25 more fouls on home teams in his seven games. Visiting teams have also attempted 28 more free throws than home teams in games Spaulding has called.

Most used: McCall has officiated a league-high 13 games and Reed and Verne Harris are next at 12. Hall is fourth with 10 games called. So the UA-ASU game attracted three of the most used refs in Pac-12 games this season — McCall, Reed and Hall.

Least used: Ten 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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