Minutes after Seton Hall lost the 1989 NCAA championship game in overtime, with a debatable blocking foul sending Michigan’s Rumeal Robinson to the line for the winning free throws, Pirates coach P.J. Carlesimo did the unimaginable when he met with reporters.
He complimented the official who made the crucial call.
The graciousness Carlesimo showed that night in Seattle runs counter to all those click-bait videos of coaches and players who are not at their best after heart-wrenching losses.
The latest angry loser: Bo Ryan.
The Wisconsin coach, unlike Carlesimo a quarter-century ago, was in no mood to toss bouquets after his team’s 68-63 loss to Duke on Monday night. The Badgers were called for 13 fouls in the second half after getting whistled for two in the first, the biggest disparity between halves in a title game since at least 2004, according to STATS.
“There was more body contact in this game than any game we played all year, and I just felt sorry for my guys that all of a sudden a game was like that. I think they are struggling with that a little bit,” Ryan said in his postgame television interview.
Maybe Ryan had a legitimate beef. But either way, social-media judgment was rendered swiftly. Ryan was called, among other things, a whiner.
Ryan benefited from a major officiating blunder in Saturday’s semifinal win over Kentucky. No violation was called even though the shot clock struck zero while the ball was still in Nigel Hayes’ hands before he made the game-tying shot with 2:41 to play. Wisconsin never trailed after that.
Ryan had some time to cool off between his CBS interview and formal postgame news conference Monday night. Still, he couldn’t resist commenting some more on the way the game against Duke was called. “We missed some opportunities. They hit some tough shots. But you know it’s just a shame that it had to be played that way.”
Interestingly, NCAA supervisor of officials John Adams on Tuesday acknowledged refs ruled incorrectly on a play not mentioned by Ryan. Late in the game, Duke wrongly retained possession after Justise Winslow was the last to touch a ball that went out of bounds. CBS replays clearly showed Winslow touching the ball. Officials reviewed the play, but they didn’t have access to the same video angle as CBS, Adams told Sirius XM satellite radio.
Ryan also took a swipe at the culture where some players leave for the NBA after one year in college. He made no mention of that after his team beat Kentucky, the team best known for one-and-done players, but he threw out a zinger after the loss to Duke, which could lose freshmen Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow to the NBA. “We don’t do rent-a-player,” Ryan said.
Carlesimo’s restraint back in 1989 belied his reputation as an intense and, to some, abrasive coach. He led Seton Hall to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 1988 and a year later the Pirates made a surprising run to the championship game against Michigan.
Seton Hall was on the verge of winning the title, leading 79-78 with 3 seconds left in overtime when Gerald Greene was called for fouling Robinson. The worst free-throw shooter in Michigan’s starting lineup made both shots, and Seton Hall lost 80-79.
“I’m not being smart when I say that game was well officiated,” Carlesimo said right after the game. “John Clougherty to me is one of, if not the best, officials in the country. We couldn’t ask for anybody else we’d rather have make the call when the game is on the line than John Clougherty.”
That blocking call on Greene has haunted Pirates fans for decades. Carlesimo, who reportedly still can’t bring himself to watch video of that game, has been stewing all this time, too. He didn’t say it the night of that questionable foul on Greene, but he did in a 2013 interview with ESPN.com.
“It was a bad call.”
Other memorable heat-of-the-moment reactions after NCAA title games:
2003: Roy Williams used a curse word when a CBS reporter pressed him about his level of interest in the North Carolina job right after his Kansas team lost 81-78 to Syracuse in the title game. Initially, he said he didn’t “give a flip” about North Carolina. Asked the question again, Williams cussed and walked away. A week later he was the Tar Heels’ new coach.
2001: Arizona coach Lute Olson went along with media members who contended the officiating favored Duke in the Wildcats’ 82-72 loss. Olson was animated on the bench after refs missed a couple obvious fouls, and he said afterward, “I frankly thought that Jason Williams fouled out twice on push-offs, but it didn’t happen. The officiating was obviously a big part of the game.”
1992: Michigan “Fab Five” freshman Chris Webber went on a tirade following a 71-51 loss to Duke, yelling at reporters, “Someone get them (expletive) cameras out of my face if you don’t want some (expletive) swearing on TV. That’s all you (expletive) want to see is some crying.”
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