I’m still trying to wrap my mind around exactly what happened last night. Some call it robbery, some call it inconclusive, I’ll just call it the best Buffalo Wild Wings commercial ever.
The shot has been dissected in nearly every way that technology allows, and there are different opinions on the validity of the call. But I’m not concerned about that. I’m more interested in something that actually matters today: perspective.
Let’s just pause for a moment to consider something, or rather, someone. Sabatino Chen. Sabatino-freaking-Chen. Props to PGU forum member ZonaBoy! for correctly identifying Chen as the look-a-like of Mortal Kombat’s Liu Kang, and honorable mention to forum poster roverfish for proposing the Inigo Montoya comparison. Personally I think he’s closer to an eponymous character from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (or Bogus Journey), but I’ll leave that to the experts.
All joking aside, Chen played magnificently. For a guy with only 2 career made three pointers in his time at Colorado, Sean Miller accurately jested that he looked like Reggie Miller out there. But last night, no one was laughing as Chen hit critical shots, the last of which may have lived as infamously in Wildcat history as Adam Spanich’s perfection ruining dead duck of a shot or Nick Robinson’s miracle heave at Stanford (fair warning, those links lead to some bad memories).
In full willingness to admit my own extraordinary bias, I can say that I believe the shot should have counted and ended the game. But it didn’t, and that won’t change. It’s easy for me to say “move on,” but I truly do feel for Colorado fans, and I feel for Sabatino Chen (I don’t, however, feel bad for coach Tad Boyle, who embarrassed himself after the game by suggesting the abolition of instant replays). Colorado played an excellent game for all but about 4 minutes and showed that the Buffs can play with anyone in the country when they are executing. That deserves credit, and it deserves noting that they easily could have scored the biggest win in school history had things shook out just a little bit differently. That’s rough and I understand the ire of any CU fans. Maybe there is solace in the fact that your beer is better than ours, no disrespect to the Nimbus Brewing Company.
But “move” and “on” are probably the only productive words to come out of what the national media has latched onto as the headline du jour. Nothing will erase the hurt that Buffalo nation feels, and surely nothing will make a retroactive difference in the W-L column. So Colorado will move on and get through what should be a very promising season, and that’s exactly what the rest of us should do too. You know that CU is going to make the tournament, and they’ll likely smash ASU tomorrow. In a few weeks, maybe months, the memory of a waived off buzzer beater at McKale will be distant, if not forgotten.
And if CU fans seem like they can do that, the national media should take a second to lower their torches and pitchforks. Lambasting the refs for one bad call out of what proved to be a smorgasbord of officiating blunders is not only uninformed, it’s flat out wrong. Who’s talking about the blatant, text-book flagrant foul that Andre Roberson committed on Nick Johnson, or the phantom foul on Mark Lyons that bailed Colorado out after Spencer Dinwiddie lost footing and gave Arizona what should have been an uncontested fast break?
The fact of the matter, and the real perspective here, is that the refs made multiple bad calls down the stretch. It’s easy to look at the last shot of regulation, but every single possession matters equally and no single play can be isolated as the game-changer. Had the flagrant foul been called on Roberson, and the phantom foul on Lyons not been called, we’re looking at an entirely different end of game scenario. You can’t say that Colorado is in position to hold for the game winner on that last possession if the game was called the way it should have been. And that’s to say nothing of an illegal substitution that allowed Solomon Hill to enter the game and hit a crucial shot. Bottom line, if you believe officiating made the difference in this game, it wasn’t on just one play and it wasn’t just in favor of one team. And you certainly can’t hold what happened against the Wildcats in any way. But as I opined in a recent piece, haters gonna hate.
That’s the last breath I’m going to waste on the end of the Arizona vs Colorado game. Because, truly, these are wasted breaths. Nothing I write about, nothing that fans agonize over, nothing that Jimmy Dykes says on ESPN will change the fact that Arizona won the game, and as of now, they are still undefeated.
I’ll leave you with one parting thought that needs no further exposition. Arizona was lucky not to lose in regulation for a variety of reasons. But winning overtime was not good fortune. Both Arizona and Colorado had an equal opportunity to win the game during the last five minutes of play, and the Wildcats outplayed them during the most crucial stretches.