Refereeing is part science, part art and, always, highly nuanced. Often, one athlete’s block is another’s charge. One group’s hacking is another group’s “optical communication.”
The hope is always that umpires don’t take center stage in a championship game. But in Sunday’s NCAA women’s final, the whistles blew incessantly, and both Iowa and Louisiana State were in foul trouble throughout the game, which the Tigers won. Iowa star Caitlin Clark’s fourth foul was a technical foul for throwing the ball, which looked highly questionable for a big moment, despite the referee’s explanation after the game, and Iowa’s bench was cautioned earlier for delaying the game. Returning the ball to the officials.
As Connecticut and San Diego State University made their final changes before Monday night’s men’s championship, a portion of each team’s final scouting report will cover, at least for a few minutes, referees’ tendencies.
This is typical for the teams, several coaches said during the previous rounds of this tournament. Both UConn and SDSU are gritty, physical teams.
“It’s great to be officiating at this level,” Aztecs coach Brian Dutcher said before his team upset top-seeded Alabama. “Only the best call games. But that being said, you have to adjust as an official. Let’s see how it’s called and make other necessary adjustments.
Dan Hurley, the UConn coach, has a storied history with referees. He Publicly condemned by the Big East Conference In February 2022, for his comments following the loss at Xavier. This year, he used a slur when he called referee Jeffrey Anderson a “clown” — and Anderson showed up as part of the refereeing panel for UConn’s semifinal win over Miami on Saturday.
A week earlier, during UConn’s blowout over Gonzaga that sent the Huskies to the Final Four, Hurley’s CBS sideline interview had a funny moment following a game discussion with referee Keith Kimble. Moments later, Hurley said during an interview, “He’s over there listening, so I can’t say too much right now. He played a great game.
Normally, schools don’t learn who will referee until the day of the game, and that’s the case with Monday night’s championship. The NCAA draws from a pool that worked on Saturday’s semifinals and notifies officials an hour before tipoff.
Hurley said last weekend in Las Vegas that he didn’t want to know who the officials were until game time. He said he lets his assistant coaches handle truancy conversations with players.
“Obviously, you have to adjust how the game is called,” Hurley said.
San Diego State last met UConn in the Round of 16 in 2011. Star guard Kemba Walker scored 36 points in a 74-67 Huskies win that left an even bitter taste in the mouths of the Kawhi Leonard-led Aztecs. Team.
“I remember Kawhi Leonard getting the only technical foul of his career. It wasn’t fun,” Dutcher, then-coach Steve Fisher’s top assistant that night, said Sunday in Houston. Down, Jamaal Franklin had a technical foul.
“Hopefully, there will be no technical glitches tomorrow. I like to keep our guys on the floor and not give them anything for free.