Clemson Wants a Word With Greensboro[UPDATED]

People are not happy with the refs.

Update: SCACCHoops has an excellent set of charts showing the top foul differential games among ACC teams so far this season as well as the overall foul differential for each team. Hat tip to JP for linking that.

So, let’s take a look back at the Clemson – UNC game one more time.  Did the referee’s give the game to UNC?  Unlikely.  There is likely no team in the ACC that plays more conservatively on defense than the Heels, who with no real shot blocker are forced to keep their opponent from getting to the basket.  Offensively, the Heels get up more shots and have more possessions than anyone else in the ACC so attacking the basket is certainly their strength. 

On the flip side, Clemson is one of the most aggressive teams in the ACC defensively, and while both teams have a strong post presence it was clear that the two teams were on opposite ends of the spectrum in foul differential.  The Tigers came into the game at -22 on the season while the Heels came in at +103.  So, it really should have been no surprise that the Heels had a +17 advantage when all was said and done.

I think that says it much better than I tried to do fighting sleep last night while writing this post.

The second most talked about topic surrounding UNC’s incredible comeback win over Clemson is the fact the Heels enjoyed a 31-14 advantage in fouls which led to a +29 FTA advantage by game’s end. Doug Gottlieb made reference to it in something he wrote on ESPN. com saying Clemson “could not get a call.” Now news comes from Clemson that they plan to contact the ACC concerning the foul discrepancy feeling that, according to the front page of, Clemson was “jobbed by the officials.” Now, there is an obvious implication in this line of thought and that is the officials gave UNC favorable officiating. The logical extension of that is that ACC officials routinely favor UNC and Duke in the way they called games.

Secondary to that I find any complaint about the officiating to be somewhat suspect unless you have an enhanced video of the game pointing to the calls that were wrong and the ones that were missed. Outside of that, you are basically relying on perceptions formed on the fly without out replay in many cases and also without being able to watch everything happening on the floor at the same time. That being said, there is a fairly stark number staring back at you there in terms of the number of fouls Clemson committed versus the number UNC had whistled on them. I would like to think there are explanations for such things, explanations that do not include black helicopters and tin foil hats.

Now, I will stipulate that 36-7 is a huge difference in FTA and 31-14 is likewise a fairly big gap in fouls committed. However there a few factors to be considered that might explain some of the discrepancy. The first is that UNC played fairly passive defense giving Clemson open looks with out much contest. It is very difficult to defend someone, much less foul them when you are leaving them wide open. Add to that the fact Clemson does not generally get fouled. The Tigers are 11th in the ACC in FTA. Why? Because they are a poor free throw shooting team and it is better for them to not shoot FTs unless they have to. Also understand the defense or lack thereof from UNC allowed Clemson to shoot 16 more shots than UNC did. In other words Clemson ended up shooting instead of getting fouled whereas UNC saw more fouls than shots.

Another key point is the fact it really did not matter for the first 37 minutes. Clemson staked as much as a 15 point lead on UNC and was up 11 with three minutes left despite the fact they were woefully outshot at the FT line. Some might make the argument that the FT discrepancy not only took away Clemson’s aggressiveness on defense but at the same time prevent the Tigers from getting a large lead. I call poppycock on that one because it is complete speculation that in no way can be corroborated by the facts. There is only so far you can go in terms of speculation and this is not one of those places. It should be noted that the refs were consistent in the frequency of fouls called for both teams. It is not like Clemson was not being called for fouls in the first half and the it changed. The refs called it much the same way all game long. I also expect Clemson will complain that Tyler Hansbrough makes too much uncalled contact and the answer is the same there a well. The refs seem to call his offensive moves the same way across the board so unless you can show these refs behaved differently I am not sure where the issue lies.

The bottom line here is that Clemson had the game in hand and failed to execute. It is unbecoming to openly blame the refs for a loss you could have prevented by executing your offense on 2-3 straight possessions. In the most basic terms, Clemson pissed the game way, partly due to the way UNC played but mostly because they lost composure. You can complain about the refs until the cows come home but it does not change the fact Clemson needed to hit some shots and get some stops on defense. Clemson did not while UNC did and the Heels won the game. It has always been my contention that there are enough plays a team can make in a game to effectively trump any mistakes by the officials. In this case, the implication is being made that the refs failed to do their job properly in a way that benefited UNC. In my opinion if you so much as suggest the referees are all three calling the game in favor of one team then you better bring more to the table than what you think might have happened. You better bring some hard evidence showing what went wrong otherwise it is pointless to even discuss. We are all biased in our own way sometimes seeing fouls that are not there and what not. And the truth is we are most likely wrong in our perceptions.

Such is life and Clemson needs to stop whining and find a way to close out the last three minutes of a game next time around.


17 Responses to Clemson Wants a Word With Greensboro[UPDATED]

  1. mugley says:

    good post THF thx for the info

  2. 52BigGameJames says:

    yep–irony here is that this is the best Clemson team I’ve witnessed, including the Nance squads, but playing the victim card in a game like that doesn’t befit a very legit NCAA Tourney team imo.

  3. Tar Heel Fan says:

    Of course this is all posturing for future games. As I said, had they held the lead, no one would have complained about the discrepancy but because Clemson lost it is an issue. If you want to read more of my take on it, go to StateFansNation and read the post they have on it. I argue with some of the Pack fans in the comments section making similar points to the ones above

  4. 52BigGameJames says:

    final point and I’ll let it be: as far as the SFN whining about traps, Clemson did an awful lot of hip-checking on missed traps last night which were rightly called. If someone were inclined to review the tape, my guess is a lot of em got stacked up there, but I digress–wasted far too much time on this topic already.

  5. Jonathan Starsmore says:

    People love to cite disparities in fouls called and FTAs when whining about the refs. That has never made an ounce of sense to me. The referees are under no obligation to make sure that both teams have an equitable number of fouls/FTAs at the end of the game, and I can’t believe that people suggest that from time to time. Heck, if ever the referees did try to do that in the game, then they should all be fired and the game result invalidated. What an officiating crew is supposed to do in the game is to call the game consistently on both ends and from start to finish, not to constantly think about who has been whistled for more fouls and looking for specious fouls to call on the other team (this is why I always get mad when I see officials grant “make-up” calls to the other team if they’ve blown a call earlier in the game). Last night’s crew were consistently swallowing the whistle on incidental contact and light contact on both ends and throughout the game, and Clemson got called for a lot more fouls of the “heavy contact” variety because, well, that’s how they play. Carolina didn’t even make any contact on Clemson shooters for the majority of the game, and we sure as heck don’t foul them as hard as the Tigers do when we did manage to hit somebody.

  6. MDtarheelfan says:

    Funny, I was screaming at the Heels to foul and force Clemson to win the game on the line, which according to their stats they would not have. Clemson be careful what you wish for.

  7. JP says:

    Check out our article on foul differential…

    The article has a chart that shows the top teams in the ACC with regards to foul differential. You might be surprised who tops the list.

    Ultimately, it was just two teams that were at completely different ends of the fouling spectrum.

  8. Tar Heel Fan says:

    Thanks JP!

    Also, I think you sent me an email but I think it ended up in my junk mail folder for some reason and got deleted. Feel free to send it again and I will respond this time.

  9. JP says:

    Ah, OK, I just re-sent the email.

  10. […] a piece on where Tyler gets his strength. Adam Lucas gives some props to Q-Tip. Tar Heel Fan has reasonable points for whining Clemson […]

  11. Josh Bowling says:

    I agree with you MDTarheel fan. I thought it might be a good stategy to send them to the line. It is important to remember that officials are people just like us and thus have their biases. Make no mistake, they are basketball fans just like we are. But they have checks n balances from various boards that keep biases in check. It is frustrating to me when I hear an official respond when asked what their duty is to have them reply “My job as an official is to make sure their is a good flow to the game”. I say to that “No that is in no way your job” Your job is to enforce the rules of the game”. The flow of the game is dictated by how each team plays, you (refs) just enforce the rules of the game and let everything else take care of itself. You are not there to make the game enjoyable to the fans by controlling flow and fouls administered. In regards to the Clemson game, I thought Clemson was allowed a little more contact during the “regulation period” of the game. When the overtimes took place, they had more of a propensity to allow UNC to play more physical defense. I guess at some point home-court advantage makes its way into the game.

  12. Steve says:

    What would we do if we couldn’t complain about officiating? It’s in the fan’s bill of rights or something…or at least it should be. And our perception of how well a game is officiated is absolutely seen through the imperfect lens of our fandom, no matter what our fan allegiance might be.

    Officials are human, and I think they sometimes get swept up in the moment to a small degree at least. This usually benefits the home team (especially during a comeback or some kind of momentum swing) and also benefits the team/player with a “better” reputation.

    That said, I watched the 2nd half and OTs of the Clemson/UNC game, and other than the weird timeout granted to Carolina, I didn’t really sense a significant disparity between the way the game was called on either side of the court. Of course, I haven’t taken the time to video analyze every single call and make detailed notes about them. I have a life to live.

  13. Tar Heel Fan says:

    What’s the matter Steve…you work or something 😉

  14. O.T. Lawrence says:

    Seems that Carolina fans were singing a different tune last year.

    UNC gets the short end of the stick…again

    Feb 25, 2007 07:49 PM | 255 views [report abuse]
    When there is a personal-foul discrepancy 10, like there was in this game, something is wrong. UNC whistled down for twenty-five personal fouls, yes TWENTY FIVE, and Maryland FIFTEEN. Are you kidding me? How much worse on officiating can you get? There is no way Maryland wins this game without that foul discrepancy. It makes me sick. Every single time UNC loses, it is because of idiotic officiating. NC State, VTech 2nd game, and now today against Maryland.

    Not to mention the 1 vs 2 match up of Ohio St. vs Wisconsin. How do you not call a foul on the final play? You couldn’t tell if they were playing football or basketball on that last play, with all of that contact.

  15. Tar Heel Fan says:

    Would you care to cite a source for that or you just wanted to drive by flame?

  16. Tar Heel Fan says:

    That is all you have? You bring up one blurb from some random blog at the Sporting News? Explain what that has to do with my stated positions on the issue? I can take ANY game played and find someone on the losing end railing against factor that did not matter.

    What I am trying to figure out is why you are dropping the ramblings of another UNC fan on this blog like it means something to me. I can’t control what other Tar Heel fans say only what is said on this blog and if I remember correctly, I have written nothing like that in the nearly two years this blog has been running. So unless you can find something I said that contradicts my current stated position on the issue then please refrain from acting like we are all one big herd of sheep thinking the same thing.

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