SEC says refs, timer handled jobs properly
Pat Summitt's tunnel vision was put to the test Tuesday.
All around Tennessee's women's basketball coach the rewind button was being punched regarding the controversial ending to UT's 59-58 victory over Rutgers Monday night. And she was trying to look forward to Thursday's clash with No. 7 LSU , which could decide the SEC regular-season championship.
"We have to get ready for LSU,'' Summitt said. "I hated that it (Monday's conclusion) was very controversial and got a lot of attention. But I feel like right now we have to focus on Thursday night's game."
Tip-off is 6:30 p.m. at Thompson-Boling Arena (TV: FSN).
The Internet was buzzing Tuesday with a rehash of the circumstances surrounding Lady Vols center Nicky Anosike's game-winning free throws with two-tenths of a second left. Countless replay clips were available for fans to scrutinize and ask, "What was the call? And when did the official make the call?"
The SEC released a statement on the matter.
"The Big East and SEC conference offices have been in communication throughout the day. The coordinators of officials for both leagues have spoken to the officials as well as the clock operator. The officials discharged their duties properly and there is no indication that anything improperly was done by anyone involved."
The league said that there would be no further comment on the issue.
Media outlets had their say. Several newspaper headlines weren't kind to Tennessee. The Chicago Tribune's read, "Charity at Home: Late FTs lift No. 1 Lady Vols." The San Francisco Chronicle incorporated the frozen-time-clock angle with, "No. 1 Lady Vols prevail; Time (0.2 of a second) stands still for Rutgers."
The ESPN.com poll question on its women's basketball page: Did the officials make the right call at the end of the Tennessee-Rutgers game? A story on the site recounted two other messy game endings, including the Lady Vols benefitting from a controversial foul call at the end of a 2004 NCAA tournament regional semifinal game against Baylor in Norman, Okla. That call also occurred with two-tenths of a second remaining in the game. Tasha Butts made two free throws and UT prevailed, 71-69.
The Lady Vols were tossed about in the tempest created by that call, which was strongly criticized, much like Monday's
"I hadn't even thought about that,'' said Summitt, regarding any correlation between 2004 and now.
Monday's outcome kept the phones busy in the Lady Vols' coaches office. Several calls came from irate Rutgers fans.
The ripple effect reached as far as the USA Today/ESPN coaches' poll. Although Tennessee was No. 1, Rutgers received a first-place vote.
Amid the clamor, Summitt said, "I'm not worried about what's going on or said."
Summitt confirmed that she spoke with C. Vivian Stringer after the Rutgers coach finished her angry postgame press conference. Stringer had rushed by Summitt during the postgame handshakes to chase after the game officials.
"I hated what happened happened, that there was controversy'' Summitt said. "Vivian is one of my dearest friends in the profession. That's not going to change."
Stringer released a follow-up statement Tuesday regarding the game's outcome.
"The controversy at the end of the game last night at Tennessee was an unfortunate incident and Rutgers deserved to win," said Stringer. " I am saddened because my team played a hard-fought game and to have it finish in such a manner overshadows the accomplishments of two exceptional teams."
Another replay from Monday's game involved Summitt and UT senior point guard Shannon Bobbitt. The ESPN2 telecast showed Summitt blistering Bobbitt for drawing a technical foul in the second half. Bobbitt rushed up and pointed at Matee Ajavon after a foul was called on the Scarlet Knights guard.
"The response has been so positive, just in terms of what I said,'' Summitt said.
She and Bobbitt met Tuesday and watched game video of Monday's second half. They didn't zero in on UT's last possession like everyone else. They were watching the six baskets and 23.1 percent field-goal shooting (6-for-26). They were preparing for Thursday night.
"We're going right to LSU,'' Summitt said.