What is a ref supposed to do? Of course, they look at the replay. Slow it down, get multiple angles, discuss it with your fellow refs, and make the best decision. Sounds so easy. But does anyone remember a time before the OVC was required to have a replay system? Better question, does anyone remember what game sparked the controversy that drove the conference into applying such regulations?
It was mid-December in 2007 and the Racers were on a two game road trip in Alabama. Now this wasn’t exactly the team you know and love today, this was one of Billy Kennedy’s early teams that still had a couple of Mick Cronin’s recruits and the team struggled at times to mesh well together.
Nevertheless, the Racers had just come off a convincing win over Jacksonville State and tried to finish off the road trip with a win over the Samford Bulldogs (still in the OVC at that time). Samford always gave the racers trouble. Their team was built around 6’10, 6’11 guys who could shoot the long ball, so the matchups always favored Samford.
At this time I worked as the videographer for The Coach’s Show with Billy Kennedy, so I was there shooting the game. It was close to Christmas so the stands were bare, and if I remember correctly, I was the only cameraman at the game.
After struggling the majority of the game, the Racers found themselves tied with 2.7 seconds and their star senior, Bruce Carter, at the free-throw line. He sinks both shots to put the Racers up by two. On the ensuing inbounds pass, Carter makes a miraculous defensive interception and tosses the ball in celebration. Problem is, his celebration was premature and the ball goes out of bounds with 0.4 seconds left on the clock.
Samford’s star player was Travis Peterson, of course, a 6’10 center who was deadly from three-point range. Obviously, the game plan for the Racers was to keep the ball out of Peterson’s hands, but with a well executed screen Peterson broke free. He gets the inbounds pass and puts up a picture perfect turn-around three. From behind the camera, it seemed as if the shot was in slow motion, everyone watching as it drifted through the air. Nothing but net.
Oh no! The Racers had the game won but with one dagger left the whole bench, and myself, stunned. But wait! The clock never started, 0.4 seconds still remained on the scoreboard. I was the only cameraman there, so there was no replay system in place. Did he get the shot off in time? With no way of looking at the play again, the refs counted the bucket.
With my footage, it was clear that 0.4 was NOT enough time to shoot a turnaround jumper. Though I could not put a stopwatch on my video, it took 22 frames for Peterson to get the shot off, and because I shot at a frame rate of 30 fps, I know it took about .7 seconds to shoot the ball.
The shot should not have counted and the Racers were robbed of a victory. And because of that game, the entire conference is required to have replay systems. You're welcome.