There Are NO Goats Here

 

Don't make him your scape goat.
Don’t make him your scape goat.

Despite USC constantly chipping away at Arizona’s lead, the Wildcats looked as if they were headed for their first road win of the season – until Nic Wise was called for an intentional foul away from the ball with 3:50 left on the clock. From that moment on 7 of USC’s final 11 points came from the free throw line – including the game winner with 1.2 seconds remaining. It would be easy to find a scape goat to pin another one-point loss onto, but in reality that’s ridiculous.

Yes, the officiating was terrible with blown calls left and right, the worst of which the intentional foul on Wise, but Arizona still controlled the game despite the officiating. Sure, Jordan Hill missed a late-game free throw, but he never should’ve received the inbounds pass, and Budinger shouldn’t have been in-bounding the ball. Nic Wise definitely shouldn’t have thrown the ball away on the Wildcats final possession, but he shouldn’t have even had the ball in that situation. Not a single one of these things should have happened, but they did. That’s just the misfortune the ‘Cats have had on the road this year.

This was the best performance on the road the ‘Cats have had all season long. They controlled most of the game and held the lead for almost all of it. I commend the ‘Cats for that, but it all came unraveled in the final 3:50 putting the ‘Cats in a position they never ought to have been in. So blame Budinger, Hill, Wise, Horne, Johnson, Fogg, the officials and everyone else if you want, but to pin it on one play or one player is bogus.

The Wildcats did a nice job making adjustments throughout the game. When Budinger was face guarded, they ran him off staggered double-screens to get him open looks. When Jordan Hill picked up his second foul with 9 minutes remaining in the first half, the ‘Cats continued to fight by scoring 19 more points before halftime. After giving up 11 first-half offensive rebounds, they cranked down and only allowed four more in the second half. I was very impressed by the overall effort of the Wildcats tonight, but it’s the worst way for a great game to end – with a one-point loss.

The Good:

Chase Budinger – Budinger was aggressive tonight, and the ‘Cats looked to get him the ball for most of the night. While facing an intense defense designed with him as the focal point Budinger came up big for the ‘Cats with 19 points on 60% shooting. A game like that against the nations 5th best defense is what reminds us that despite his slumps, he has the talent to become a solid player in the NBA.

Jamelle Horne: Horne was a major contributor and a big reason why Arizona had a shot at pulling off their first road win tonight. I’m sure you’re probably mad that I didn’t put him down in the “Ugly” section because of his last second foul that led to the game-winning free throw by Hackett. To judge Horne’s performance based on a ticky-tack foul is an injustice to what he did. Horne is a major reason why USC only got 4 offensive rebounds in the second half. He was aggressive going after the ball even leapt higher than Taj Gibson for rebounds on consecutive plays. Horne did exactly what we needed him to, scored (8 points), was active defensively (2 steals), and was crashing the boards (7 rebounds). One mistake doesn’t change the fact that he was a major contributor and a big reason why Arizona was in a position to win this game.

The Bad:

Simple Mistakes: I’ve already listed them above. Budinger in-bounding the ball, Hill missing a crunch-time free throw, Wise turning the ball over, as well as a shot clock violation. These were signs that this team is struggling and has youth and an interim coach at the helm. They are all easily correctable. Not one of these plays single-handedly lost the game for the ‘Cats (nor did Horne’s foul) – but a culmination of them and the refs was enough to shoot the Wildcats in the paw.

The Ugly:

Many fans’ reaction to Jamelle Horne following his late-game foul. He was in a good defensive position, staying in front of Hackett, and was called for a tacky foul. Yes, it was heart-breaking. But if I’m Horne, I’m not embarrassed or upset with myself for that play. He was where he was supposed to be, doing what he was supposed to do and got called for a cheap foul when the ref should’ve swallowed his whistle. Horne wasn’t chasing Hackett down and going Superman-style on him. He didn’t clobber him, and he didn’t foul him in the act of shooting. He was playing defense!

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5 Responses to “There Are NO Goats Here”


  1. 1 Kamikaze Kid January 18, 2009 at 12:32 am

    I was @ the game & agree with your assessment 100%. The Cats played a solid game from start to finish, but had too many “simple mistakes” to overcome the horrendous officiating. I’ve seen better @ HS games.

    I was “screaming” @ the refs to look @ Wise when the USC player was holding him “hostage” on the ground. A ref was standing right next to them and did nothing until Wise stood up – “throwing” the USC player who was straddling him to the ground in the act of doing so – and getting called for the intentional foul. They even looked @ a replay (I actually thought, “they have to reverse this call when they see it”)- not sure what they were looking @, but apparently only the Wise action was on the tape. When they showed the replay on the jumbotron, you could see Chase’s dunk in the background. The 4 point swing killed the momentum & changed the outcome of the game.

    The fact that we were up @ halftime, with Hill sitting on the bench for most of the first period gave me hope, but they broke my heart again. I’m hoping they take this frustrating loss out on ASU this week.

  2. 2 Todd January 18, 2009 at 5:32 am

    I’m not going to dwell on this game. I was happy with what I saw. The best thing I saw was that our defense was much improved. Everyone had positive contributions, even Fendi and Alex. This team should be 14-4 right now. It’s a shame they aren’t but that’s life. A little credit should be given to the refs who scored about 10 points for the Trojans. It also should be said that even though the Arizona coaches have been out coached from time to time, it is hard not to like Russ Pennell. He is a class act. He couldn’t be a nicer guy.

  3. 3 D. Lewis is a punk a** January 18, 2009 at 11:59 pm

    Pennel may be a nice guy but he needs to be more aggressive with the refs and forceful with them.

    THAT WAS ONE OF THE MOST EGREGIOUS CALLS I HAVE EVER SEEN!!!!!!!!!!

  4. 4 Yumadavis January 19, 2009 at 9:38 am

    The game was lost by Pennell when he burned all 3 TO’s in the last 2:30 before the final 20 seconds. Terrible coaching, bad if non-existent strategy and no X and O’s … except for Dunlap’s defense. We couldn’t set up a play to win the game nor could we talk about dropping back on D and NO FOULS!!!!! Instead we let Wise blast in and try to do something which we know by now is usually a bad thing.

    Go back to the AZ Kids Kamp ‘Rusty’ and take ole Dewey with ya… Can’t we fire P-head and let Mike run the show?

    Nice blog Nater


  1. 1 Jamelle Horne Joins Bonehead Pantheon « Rush the Court Trackback on January 20, 2009 at 1:13 pm

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