Randy Smith: Officiating Draws Ire Of Fans Everywhere

  • Monday, April 1, 2024
  • Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith
I try to be objective about officiating no matter what sport I've covered in my 55 years on the job as a journalist. I mean....you can count on one hand the number of times I've been critical of officials in my career. In this case, I'm not alone in my criticism. The case I'm talking about is the Elite Eight match up on Sunday between Tennessee and Purdue.

The number one seed Boilermakers won the game 72-66 as 7'4", 300-pound center Zach Edey scored 40 of his team's 72 points.
Tennessee had no answer for Edey as time after time he would post up in the lane, missing three-second lane violations. He would take an entry pass and turn and score easily. When he was fouled, he usually hit his free throws. Now I'm not saying he wasn't fouled....he was. But you can't tell me a guy that big and aggressive commits just one foul the entire game. One....uno....despite the fact he played 39 of 40 minutes. And he was never whistled for a three-second lane violation, though I counted numerous times he committed the violation. He was just never called for it.

Edey matched Tennessee's Dalton Knecht bucket for bucket in the second half. Knecht led Tennessee with 37 points in his final game as a Volunteer but he got very little help from his teammates. The entire rest of the team managed just 29 points and no one else was in double figures. It was the same old story the Vols have put out there many times over the past several seasons. Long scoring droughts hampering them with no one willing and able to step up and score points did them in on more than just one occasion.

Getting back to the officiating, while it was apparent the men in stripes weren't going to call fouls on Zach Edey, it wasn't the first time officials have been criticized for letting him get away with doing whatever he wanted to in a game. Pundits from several media outlets and social media platforms saw the same thing I saw in Sunday's game. He was protected by the officials all day. While Purdue fans and folks who don't like Tennessee are saying, "Stop crying about the officiating. You lost....get over it." Well, I'm over it. I put it past me a few minutes after the game ended, but it still doesn't make it right.

Tennessee finishes a great season at 27-9 while Purdue moves on to face Cinderella North Carolina State in the Final Four. Alabama, the only SEC team remaining, faces defending national champion UConn in the other semi-final. For Volunteer head coach Rick Barnes, he still hasn't made the national championship game, but he came awfully close in 2024.

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Randy Smith can be reached at rsmithsports@epbfi.com.

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