Collins and Foul Calls

I didn’t see this particular game but I saw some replays. Collins did lose it and should have been reprimanded and fined. However, being upset about the foul calls not being more even is something I have never understood. I realize this particular game was very tilted in foul calls but that happens.

I used to officiate High School basketball in Nebraska from Class B on down. I never worked a state tournament but I worked some district and conference tournaments. I have had a few coaches get on me because the fouls were lop sided. I never had a game as tilted as the Northwestern game but I had a few that weren’t exactly even in the foul calls.

One game I had enough from a certain coach and I told him I am not going to call fouls with the purpose in mind to keep the fouls as even as I can. Then I asked him, “isn’t it possible one team is fouling more than the opponent?” If it is purposeful on the official’s part then that is one thing but if the officials are calling what they believe are fouls then that is the way it goes.

I also have never met or been aware of any official, including myself, that officiated a game with who the two teams are in mind and weighted one team against the other. I have turned a couple of games down for that very reason. I didn’t want any presumption of conflict of interest nor did I want any appearance wrong doing.

John Papenhagen

As you were a high school referee, can you answer a question?

When a defensive player is moving backwards and the offensive player initiates contact, why is the call against the defensive player?

Greg Zimmerman, UNL '75
Overland Park, Kansas

It has been a long time since I have officiated. That was back in the 70s. To be exact I would have to re-read the rule book. However, I will try and answer that based by the way it was back then. Rules do have a way of getting changed.

I will say the block/charge is one of the toughest, if not THE toughest, call to make. I would guess in your scenario the official sees the defender as cutting off the offensive player. Most of the time in my experience the defensive player usually isn’t moving straight backward. There is usually some side to side movement, or at least the official sees it that way. It would have to be a situation where the official saw it as the defender impeded the progress of the offensive player.

Speaking for myself it had to be totally obvious to me that I should call a charge. If there was any doubt in my mind I called it on the defense, or maybe let the game play on.

I also officiated High School football and umpired High School baseball. Basketball, in my opinion, is by far and away the toughest one to officiate. The worst place to officiate a basketball game is on the floor. The best place is at mid court about eight or ten rows up.

It is easy to literally not make a call because the official doesn’t see it. I am only 5 ft. 7 in. and there were times I would get screened out for a brief time and something would happen I didn’t even see. The official tries to do his/her best to keep moving and not let that happen but sometimes there is nothing a person can do about it. I would believe some of that has been eliminated by years ago adding a third official. In my time we had only two officials.

I don’t know if I really answered your question but as I say if the call should be a charge or a block is a tough call.

John Papenhagen

Collins was fined $5000 and given a public reprimand for being on the court. (I never did figure out why Buie also got the T at the end.)

I watched the Purdue@Wisconsin game today, and even though Purdue was on the road it seemed like they got more than 50-50 on the questionable calls, especially some line calls late in the 2nd half. Wisconsin’s coach wasn’t happy with those calls, but at least he didn’t lose it like Collins did, though Wisconsin did lose the game. Wisconsin still has to visit Purdue and host Illinois, so they’ve got a tougher last half of the schedule than Northwestern or Nebraska do.

With Edey being 4-6 inches taller than the tallest player on most of their opponents, he seems to get a lot of calls just because they assume a big guy like that is being shoved around. Which he is, but not much differently than the smaller ones, I think he’s just more visible.

Officials don’t officiate games with the thought in mind if the calls are 505/50 on questionable calls. They just make calls as they see them. Every time officials step on the floor one side or the other, maybe both, are going to be complaining. It is part of the job and is one of the reasons I quit officiating years ago.

John Papenhagen