|South Carolina 74, Virginia Tech 73
Dec 5, 1997
|HokieCentral's Game Report
It was a night in which this young Virginia Tech team showed how good it can be, and an ACC officiating crew showed how bad it can be.
Virginia Tech was whistled for 36 fouls, and four Tech players fouled out. A fifth Tech player had four fouls. South Carolina was whistled for 16 fouls, and no players fouled out - heck, none of their players had more than three fouls! South Carolina shot 47 free throws, and Virginia Tech shot 11.
That's all you need to know about this game.
I'm so angry I can't see straight. I'm reminded of a similar game many years ago, before I even attended Tech, back when Charlie Moir was coaching the Hokies. An officiating crew turned in a similar performance, and Moir went ballistic in his post-game press conference, even going so far as to use the word "rape." I believe he was suspended for one game for his comments.
Well, I'm thinking of Charlie Moir as I write this game report, and I'm thinking, some fifteen years later, "Ditto."
If you didn't get to see this game on TV, then you missed a performance in which this young Hokie team whipped the #5 South Carolina Gamecocks from start to finish, but thanks to the referees, the Hokies are taking home an L.
Get these stats:
And on and on it goes. But thanks to some whistle-happy refs, USC got to win the game from the free throw-line. The Gamecocks, ordinarily an awful 51% shooting team from the foul line, shot so many that they got into a rhythm and made 35 of 47 for 75% shooting.
The worst call came on the last play of the game. The Hokies brought the ball down the floor, trailing 73-70, and Hokie freshman Kenny Harrell made a tough, hanging three-pointer to tie it at 73 with less than four seconds remaining. Incredibly, as the ball went through the hoop, the referees called a foul under the basket on Rolan Roberts for "pushing" USC's Melvin Watson, who pulled an acting job that would do Sean Connery proud by diving to the floor. Watson hit one of his two free throws for the final margin of victory.
Bill Roth called it a good call, but I disagree. It was crap. It was a gutless, spineless, idiotic call on a night full of hideous reffing from a totally incompetent ACC crew that did everything it could to make sure that South Carolina won - and they succeeded.
The floor-diving performance by Watson on the final play capped a strong acting job by the entire USC team that had the refs completely fooled into thinking the Hokies were beating them to death. The USC center, a scrawny 6-11 beanpole by the name of Stack, spent the entire night collapsing to the floor every time a Hokie got near him, and his efforts drew a number of silly whistles.
All night long, the Hokies were whistled for tiny little love taps, while USC was allowed to crawl up Tech player's backs or knock Tech players to the floor for a rebound.
The Hokies' Russ Wheeler, for one, was completely taken out of the game by the refs. Russ was whistled for a foul every time he moved and wound up fouling out in 23 minutes with 0 points, 0 rebounds, and 0 assists.
The lousy refereeing job ruined a night in which Jenis Grindstaff, Rolan Roberts, Eddie Lucas, Kenny Harrell - the whole team - put on a show. Grindstaff was his "usual self," as I'm going to start saying, once again appearing totally in control as he wheeled and dealed his way to 18 points to lead the Hokies.
Roberts had a monster night, blocking seven USC shots. Rolan doesn't just tap balls away, folks. He crouches and stalks, lying in wait until some goofy opponent with dreams of scoring dares to put up a shot in the paint. BANG!! Rolan leaps and slaps the shot away like he's shooting it from a cannon. Against teams like Liberty and UT-Martin, Rolan's game and intensity wax and wane, but in the prime time of a big game, he is on for 40 minutes.
After the game, Coach Bobby Hussey was asked by Mike Burnop if he was going to continue to bring Roberts in off the bench. You could hear Hussey smiling as he said, "I think Rolan's non-starting days are over."
Hussey went as far as he could in his post-game comments to criticize the refs without getting suspended. He made statements like, "When one team shoots 47 free throws, and the other shoots 11, something is obviously wrong there." About the final foul called on Roberts, Hussey said something like, "That call was made by the same referee who made many other doubtful calls all night long."
On a day when former two Arizona State basketball players admitted to point-shaving a couple of years ago, it seems to me that somebody ought to check the pockets of the refs in the Tech/South Carolina game. I hope they got paid for the way they called the game, because the only alternative - that they're really that bad at their jobs - is unthinkable.
This Hokie team is good - very good. But even the best can't win when the odds are 8-against-5.
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