The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

January 29, 2012

HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Six eyes and none of them saw it’

MORGANTOWN — Tony Caridi sat courtside throughout this tense basketball game, one in which Syracuse, his alma mater, was fighting to get back to No. 1 in the nation, and in which West Virginia University, his employer, fought to just get back on its feet.

It had been a wonderful basketball adventure. Had it been a television show, it would have won an Emmy; a movie, it would have won an Oscar. This was a meal at Ruth’s Chris Steak House, a sip from a glass of 1978 Montrachet.

Caridi was into it, his voice echoing across West Virginia, even as fans watched the finish for themselves on ESPNU. Six seconds left, WVU down 2, Deniz Kilicli takes a shot up close and personal, the kind of shot he had missed all game.

This one hit the backboard before a Syracuse hand slipped in there and knocked it away.

Everyone waited. Surely the officials would call the goaltend, but no, it never came.

Caridi was shocked, then took a page out of the Russ Hodges playbook as the Giants’ announcer called Bobby Thomson’s 1951 “Shot Heard Round the World.”

“The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! I don’t believe it. They’re going crazy,” shouted Hodges.

“That was goaltending! That was goaltending. That was goaltending. None of the three officials saw it. Absolutely unbelievable. Six eyes and none of them saw it. Unbelievable. Unbelievable,” Caridi shouted.

And to be honest, from Hundred to Martinsburg, from Morgantown to Bluefield, from Keyser to Huntington, the feeling was shared.

“Wow, that’s terrible,” Caridi’s partner in watching this crime, Jay Jacobs, said. “They will be nationally criticized for missing that call.”

Seconds later, his prediction became fact as Twitter heated up with the national columnists speaking their minds.

“Missed goaltending call in WVU-Syracuse game a bad mistake,” ESPN analyst and former Duke player Jay Bilas tweeted. “You could see Boeheim tell Huggins he should’ve won the game.”

“Officials wearing meat ponchos at Syracuse. Horrible,” tweeted Dennis Dodd of

“Let’s go easy on the calls for more replay in college hoops. How about we just settle on calling for better officiating?” tweeted Michael DeCourcy of The Sporting News.

“How fast can West Virginia get to the Big 12? Wow. Kilicli made the play. But the officials did not make the right call,” tweeted Andy Katz of

And this was all before Bob Huggins had his say. You expected an explosion that would register 8.3 on the Richter Scale, but no. Huggins wasn’t screaming, wasn’t shouting. It was almost as if the life had been sucked out of him by the three blind mice named Hess, Steratore and O’Connell who missed the call.

“Inexcusable,” he said after talking to his team. “The kids played their hearts out.”

He would later say, when meeting with the press and asked if he thought it was goaltending, “Did I think it was? No. I know it was.”

Immediately the conspiracy theorists stepped forward: The Big East was getting its pound of flesh on the Mountaineers for jumping to the Big 12 and suing them along the way.

That, of course, is patently absurd.

These Big East officials aren’t competent enough to pull off a conspiracy.

The officiating simply mirrors the management of the Big East and its commissioner John Marinatto, who has let one of the great conferences in America disintegrate into a coast-to-coast joke.

You might recall last year’s Big East Tournament, the showcase of Big East basketball in Madison Square Garden, when officials Jim Burr, Tim Higgins and Earl Walton stopped officiating before the final buzzer of St. John’s victory over Rutgers, missing calls that could have changed the outcome of the game.

They “voluntarily” withdrew from the remainder of the tournament.

They should have been fired, as should this crew, for there can be no excuse for what happened, no explanation other than incompetency ... unless the conspiracy theory is true.

Now it’s true that WVU missed three other shots in the closing seconds that could have tied or won the game and that Kilicli’s basket would have only tied the game with time for Syracuse to win it, but the fact of the matter is that the outcome as it was reached is as phony as a $3 bill.

The shame is that this was a crucial game for the Mountaineers, one in which they were trying to erase the memory of a disappointing, lackluster performance at St. John’s on Wednesday, one that was so devastating to Huggins that even in the rubble of this defeat he constantly referred back to that game.

Huggins stood before his team moments after the final buzzer and told them how they deserved a better fate and praised their effort, but then added one more thing.

“I did tell them if they played like that Wednesday we wouldn’t be in the shape we’re in.”

Email Bob Hertzel at Follow on Twitter @bhertzel.

Text Only
WVU Sports
  • Arrest warrant out for WVU recruit

    West Virginia University’s newest men’s basketball recruit, Tarik Phillip, has an order out for his arrest in North Carolina, according to a story in The Dominion-Post, which said three Gaston County Magistrate office spokespersons confirmed.

    April 20, 2014

  • WVU baseball powers past Oklahoma, 9-5

    The WVU baseball team tied a season high with 18 hits to defeat Oklahoma, 9-5, on Saturday afternoon at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
    The win gives the Mountaineers their second Big 12 series win of the season and improves the overall record to 19-16 and 4-7 in conference play. Oklahoma drops to 25-16 overall and 5-7 in Big 12 play.

    April 20, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules

    At first glance, it appears that they do not go hand-in-hand, a pair of rules changes the NCAA’s Legislative Council approved this week, sending them off for what seems to be smooth sailing toward becoming rules.

    April 18, 2014

  • Means, WVU baseball shut out Oklahoma

    Junior left-hander John Means of the WVU baseball team threw eight shutout innings and the Mountaineers had a five-run first inning en route to a 7-0 victory over Oklahoma on Thursday evening at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
    The Mountaineers (18-15, 3-6 Big 12) broke a six-game Big 12 losing streak after being swept by TCU and Oklahoma State in back-to-back weekends. WVU had 16 hits and did not make an error for the second-straight game.

    April 18, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Dr. Graber disagrees with Gee’s stance on Turnbull firing

    Dr. Stephen Graber, an associate professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, is among the latest WVU teachers to deplore Oliver Luck’s firing of veteran wrestling coach Craig Turnbull.
    He raised some significant questions about that issue last Monday in a meeting of the WVU Faculty Senate.

    April 18, 2014

  • Huggins signs junior college guard

    Coach Bob Huggins completed his 2014-15 West Virginia University recruiting class on Wednesday and deemed it a success after receiving a signed letter of intent from junior college guard Tarik Phillip.
    Phillip joins Jevon Carter of Maywood, Ill., and Daxter Miles of Baltimore’s Dunbar High and out of Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts in the 2014-15 recruiting class.

    April 17, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing

    The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.

    April 17, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Comparing pay of coaches and professors

    Stringing together some odds and ends which may be of interest to you:
    • A beautiful lady came up to my table last Sunday at brunch in the Village of Heritage Point’s main dining room with a message.

    April 17, 2014

  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • WVU’s Harlee named Big 12 Scholar-Athlete

    The Big 12 Conference announced its Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients for the 2014 winter sport season, and West Virginia University senior Jess Harlee earns the honor for women’s basketball.
    Harlee was selected as the award winner based on a vote of each respective sport’s head coaching group, with coaches not permitted to vote for their own student-athletes.

    April 16, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos