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Referees get it right in first weekend of March Madness

Amar’e Stoudemire left the bench and Suns fans lost their minds. But in the race to play the blame game, everybody (well…just about everybody) forgot to blame the real culprit: Amar’e Stoudemire.

Don’t worry. I’m not here to tear open old wounds. Just using Stoudemire’s ill fated decision as an example that sometimes the simple explanation is the one right there in front of your face. After the controversial calls this weekend in the NCAA Tournament it’s time for another reminder.

Suns fans were quick to blame the refs, the league, David Stern, the Spurs, conspiracies, Tim Duncan, etc. There were a few at the time (OK, I confess, I was one of them) who pointed the finger in the proper direction. Stoudemire’s. He was the one who didn’t know the rules. He was the one who should have known better. He was the one who made the mistake.

But after watching the Butler-Pitt game on Saturday night, followed by Arizona and Texas on Sunday, the fingers of blame were being pointed faster than you could utter the words “my bracket is toast.”

THE REFS SHOULD HAVE SWALLOWED THE WHISTLE! LET ‘EM PLAY! OVERTIME WOULD HAVE BEEN STELLAR, WHY DID THEY RUIN IT?

Then Sunday: 5 SECONDS? THAT WASN’T 5 SECONDS! THAT CALL COST US OUR SEASON! WHAT A DUMB RULE! THAT WAS A FOUL AT THE END, WHY DIDN’T YOU CALL THAT?

The rants ignore the obvious: That was some bad basketball on display in those games. The referees – and I can’t believe I’m about to write this – were perfect. Spot on. Dare I say clutch.

I don’t want to go too far in calling out young players for mistakes they made on the floor. They’re young. They’re, ahem, student-athletes. It happens.

But think about it. There have been three defining moments so far in this tournament but only one of the moments actually shined; Morehead State’s win over Louisville. The other two, the wins by Butler and the UofA, didn’t exactly feature top notch, high grade caliber basketball at the end now did they?

Memorable finishes no doubt, but for entirely all the wrong reasons.