CONTRARY to some public opinion, we in the sports writing game would rather not talk abut referees and their decisions.
Your columnist is certainly in that boat, but it’s becoming an unavoidable discussion if you’re a regular viewer of the NBL.
The video review system is a particular source of frustration for coaches, players and fans alike.
Just about all rule changes implemented by the NBL in recent times have been aimed at speeding up the game.
Video review has had the complete opposite effect, with games constantly halted for several minutes at a time to pore over endless replays.
Saturday’s Hawks-Kings game was a case in point, with momentum of both sides constantly pulled up for indecisive whistle-blowers to gaze at a screen.
It was a source of frustration for both Rob Beveridge and Andrew Gaze.
It had a big impact for the Hawks after they produced a blazing second quarter and went into halftime with their tails up.
Under those circumstances, any coach would want to get his side back out on the floor as quick as possible.
Instead halftime dragged on as the green shirts took an inordinately long amount of time to disallow a buzzer-beating lay-up from Cedric Jackson.
The long delay saw halftime drag on so long both sides were standing around waiting for the halftime entertainment to finish.
Beveridge was frank when Hoopla asked him about the system post-match.
“I hate that review system,” he said.
“It’s a momentum killer for both teams. I was talking to our team about playing with tempo.
“[Andrew] Bogut’s the best player in the league, I want to run him up and down and tire him out.
“All of a sudden you stop three-four-five times in a game and that gives him time to get his breathe back and that hurts us.
“In sport everyone makes mistakes, the referees make mistakes, but I hate how they have to go and review things. It takes way too much time.
“To me it’s a cop-out a lot of the time. Just make a decision, whether it’s right or wrong, and move on.”
He echoed the sentiments of many of his coaching peers.
The frustration deepens when clearly incorrect decisions are made despite the lengthy process. The NBL has had to admit this on a number of occasions this season.
Referees have it hard enough in the most difficult game to officiate on the planet. If it is demonstrably not resulting in more correct decisions why not scrap it all together?
It should be noted that it was a review late in Saturday’s game that correctly saw Bogut called for an unsportsmanlike foul at a key moment.
Whether such fouls should be called as such is another question. Hoopla would suggest if a big has managed to keep enough fouls in the bank late in a contest to send a guy to the line – within reason – he should be able to.
However, as the rules currently stand, it was the correct call. It doesn’t make an argument for the whole system, it suggests it should be reserved for such moments – i.e. the final minute or two of a game.
It won’t change in-season but hopefully we see it scrapped next season.
NEW DAD WHITE BRINGS THE MONGREL
FATHERHOOD seemingly hasn’t mellowed Hawks skipper Kevin White – and thank goodness for that.
White took on Sydney on virtually no sleep on Saturday after partner Rachel gave birth to their first child on Friday night.
He was also carrying a niggling back complaint but still found a way to pester his old foe Jerome Randle, drawing a pair of offensive fouls.
It’s also good to see the way their once purely antagonistic relationship has grown into a healthy – yet competitive – respect.
No one was more pleased to see the return of the mongrel than Rob Beveridge.
“Whitey has got to go back to what he is,” Beveridge said.
“He’s an agitator, he’s the glue in your team, he sets the tone defensively, you can put him on the best player out there.
“Jerome and Whitey have got a history, everybody knows that, but it’s not a hate. I think it’s a really big respect, they both get after each other.
“You need pride in the way you defend and Whitey said ‘I’m going to stop Randle’ who’s one of the greats of our league.
“He didn’t train this week. He’s had a back injury and his partner gave birth to his son [on Friday night].
“For him to come into an game with zero training and do what he did in his limited minutes was outstanding.”
HEADACHES FOR GAZE AT THE FOUR SPOT
THERE’S no doubt Sydney have the most stacked roster in the NBL, but if there is a chink in their armour it’s at the four spot.
It was evident on Saturday, with Rob Beveridge starting both AJ Ogilvy and Dave Andersen. It put Andrew Bogut onto Ogilvy and left Andersen to work on David Wear.
Wear had no answers for the veteran, with Andersen grabbing seven of his 11 points in first six minutes.
“You’re confidence is much better when you’re making shots and there were a couple of big shots, Dave and Kicks (Daniel Kickert) had that they weren’t able to knock down,” Gaze said.
“That’s going to happen from time to time. In hindsight, maybe I should have thrown Deng Deng in there. There were a couple of other options I could go to.
“The other thing that concerned me was that whenever we took Boges out, with their bigs diving to the rim, I felt a little vulnerable.
“I played Boges four or five minutes more than what we wanted to but, from the eye test, it was a big difference when he wasn’t in there.”