Just got back from the Big East Tournament and boy what a day it was! First Connecticut blew the doors off of Georgetown 79-62, and it wasn't even that close. Then St. Johns let Rutgers hang around for 38 minutes before Jim Burr and Tim Higgins proved to the nation that they were the worst officials in the game today. Possibly even the worse two officials in any sport at any level!
Do you think this is the first bad game either of these guys have had? No. They make mistakes like this all the time, and this time it was on national TV during the Big East's marquee event. Tim Higgins and Jim Burr, taken separately, are two of the worst officials in the NCAA, that's a given. Put them together on the court, and that's recipe for complete disaster.
And disaster is what they got inside the Garden today, as time wound down on the second game of the Wednesday afternoon double-header. After an errant inbound pass bounced to Justin Brownlee CLEARLY stepped out of bounds with 1.9 seconds left on the game clock. No whistle. He then threw the ball into the stands. It looked to me like there was still time on the clock, because from my seats I hadn't heard the buzzer ring out yet.
From section 202 it was devastatingly obvious that there was still time left on the clock. For two referees who couldn't officiate a game of darts in an Irish Pub, it was business as usual. Game over. St. Johns wins and moves on to play Syracuse tomorrow at 2:30PM in the quarter finals. No review, no discussion.
Mike Rice was so busy arguing about a blatant non-call from earlier didn't even realize that there was still time on the clock when Brownlee obviously took two full steps out of bounds with time on the clock.
And that leads us right into tomorrow. The Syracuse Orangemen, currently ranked #11 in the nation, will take the court they call home against #17/18 St. Johns, who also call Madison Square Garden home. Meanwhile, the Red Storm also call Carnesecca Arena home. Be that as it may, it will certainly be a battle for who owns the rights to the Garden.
Syracuse has been running St. John's house for what seems like decades. We have been going into their house after running through the mud, leaving our shoes on. Rubbing the mud into their carpet. Drinking out of a glass and not using a coaster on their coffee table and blasting the music all hours of the night when all St. Johns wanted to do was go to sleep.
Syracuse fans turn up in droves in Madison Square Garden at a rate that St. John officials can only dream of. Even with a rejuvenated St. Johns program, Orange will still outnumber Red inside MSG tomorrow, just as it did back on January 12th when Syracuse beat the Johnnies 76-59 behind 18 Kris Joseph points and a double-double from Rick Jackson. Syracuse led that game by as many as 22 points.
So tomorrow, expect an angry St. Johns team. Expect a team that's tired of having a house guest. A guest that's been nothing but rude to them. A guest who has repeatedly beaten them and other nationally ranked programs on the very same floor they consider a home court, while their own program sputtered into irrelevance.
Expect a team that wants to set the record straight that Syracuse no longer owns MSG and no longer owns NYC.
Fortunately for Syracuse, we have been here before, and we will be ready for anything Steve Lavin and St. Johns throws at us.
photo courtesy of syracuse.com