If you have even the most passing of interests in American sports, you've seen the replay by now. Russell Westbrook, in his haste to beat the already crowned 2016 NBA champions, crosses the half court line and launches into an impromptu rendition of the Stanky Leg and Electric Slide. This rather obvious violation basketball rules occurred right in front of the Warriors bench and an official, as well as millions of eyes world wide. The fact that it wasn't called changed the timbre of the game and possibly the outcome as well.
College basketball, and especially Xavier, fans are well aware of what can happen when a call is missed at the end of a game. In case the wound isn't fresh enough or you've somehow forgotten, Edmond Sumner's lead taking basket was waved off at the end of the Wisconsin game after Sumner was incorrectly adjudged to have committed a charge. That actually wasn't even the worst call of that particular day in the NCAA tournament, though. Half court hero Paul Jesperson was called for a foul that led to an and one in Northern Iowa's collapse for the ages. The problem? Every available replay angle showed that Jesperson had made literally no contact with the Texas A&M player. A referee more than eager to get himself into part of a historical comeback made the call anyway, and A&M drew within two 12 seconds to play. Obviously, that matters in a game that lands in double overtime.
So, does basketball need full replay review? Replay exists currently and was used to great effect on Octavious Ellis'
hilarious unfortunate dunk after the buzzer that led to UC being eliminated. Replay in basketball, though, is greatly limited to just simple clock and game management situations. Basketball referees are dictators in stripes, free fomr any sort of public reckoning from even their most disastrous of calls. Even in the most venerated of old games, baseball, umpires can be challenged by managers when they've obviously erred. This hasn't led to a sudden downturn in interest or another 30 minutes, it's actually only led to more correct calls.
Could that work in basketball? Well, there are obvious problems with full replay review in a game with a nearly constantly running clock. Imagine a spectacular drive and dunk followed by another team's inbound and attempt to catch still celebrating players off guard being derailed by a red flag or, somehow, even more whistles. What would UCONN's amazing mid-major tournament highlight heave have looked like if Kevin Ollie had asked for review of something in order to buy his team some time?
Banners on the Parkway's College Basketball Replay Review Proposal
1. Replay enters basketball only on dead balls or if a coach calls a timeout. Think you've seen something so egregious that it's going to cost your team a game? Call a timeout or shut up about it. This has the added benefit of naturally conservative coaches holding a timeout in case they need to review something later in the game. That means fewer stoppages in play the rest of the game. The end game time already has plenty of stoppages, so review could be initiated then.
2. Replay can only last 30 seconds. If a call is apparently wrong that quickly, move on. Most calls subject to review are going to be pretty clearly wrong. Let's face it, the standard of officiating in our beloved game is appalling. It would have taken three seconds last night to see Westbrook traveled, barely any longer to see Jesperson didn't foul.
3. Replay is done by an impartial conference during regular season play, by the NCAA during the tournament. Big East reviews Big Ten calls, Big Ten reviews the ACC, and the MAC and the AAC play together on their level. Pretty simple.
4. Officials with a high percentage of overturned calls are punished. Here's the kicker, this has to lead to something. Officiating has gotten terrible in the last could of years, and that's because there's no oversight on bad refs. Referees who consistently miss calls need to lose money, gigs, or prestige. You don't accept the "human element" argument if your airline pilot has an off night, why accept it here?
5. Anything can be challenged. This is basketball, the slightest little thing can change a game. With the timeout rule in place, coaches can have at it.
6. Only two reviews per team, per game. Let's not go crazy here. This keeps the game moving and, again, makes coaches save timeouts.
7. A ref can initiate review on his own once per game. If a guy just flat isn't sure, let him check it. The same dead ball rules apply.
That's what I have so far. It's not foolproof and it's far from perfect, but it's a start. Basketball is lagging behind the times and costing teams games. It's time to get that fixed.