One of the dumbest rules the NCAA has ever enacted (and that’s saying something) quietly went into effect in Freedom Hall Sunday when Samardo Samuels was poked in the eye with 59 seconds left and U of L leading by 7.
By rule, if a player headed to the line must leave the game because of injury, the opposing coach gets to choose his replacement. This rule essentially has the potential to reward a rough foul late, though that’s not what happened in Samuels’ case.
But Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin made an interesting choice. According to U of L coach Rick Pitino, Cronin chose Edgar Sosa, who had missed 4 out of 5 free throws in the final minute and a half to cost the Cardinals a victory at Pittsburgh just one game prior.
“They got a chance to pick it, and they picked Edgar,” Pitino said. “And I told the referee, ‘They made a bad choice.’ And John Higgins said, ‘I’ll make sure to tell the other coach.’ But I told Edgar, ‘They made a bad choice — you’re going to make these.’ It wasn’t exactly a swish, but he did make them.”
NOTE: It would appear to me that the rule was not applied correctly in this case. The rule is clear that the coach must choose from one of the other four players on the court, but Sosa was on the bench at the time. Regardless, it’s a bad rule. It was instituted to keep players from faking injury, but how often was that happening?
Officiating was the subject of comments (or responses from both coaches). Pitino said:
“I could get upset at officials after I look at a game and I could say this and I could say that. The bottom line is that officials don’t win or lose basketball games. There are plenty of times when it’s gone the other way and we’ve gotten calls. Those three officials the other night are good officials. I’m not a big believer in officials determining the outcome of basketball games. Basketball is a tough sport to officiate and we have the best officials in the BIG EAST. I feel that we have been unlucky with the whistles a few times this year starting a while ago. But after you coach 35 years or whatever, you see it both ways. Sometimes you get the breaks and sometimes you don’t.”
Pitino had little reason to be upset on Sunday. The Cardinals were whistled for only nine fouls in the game, 5 in the first half and 4 in the second. Cronin’s Cincinnati team shot only four free throws. When asked about it, Cronin said:
“I can’t comment on that. All I can tell you is Villanova shot 40-something.”