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Referee Tony Greene speaks with SI about end of Duke-Syracuse game

Feb 24, 2014, 2:25 PM EST

The ejection seen ’round the world happened on Saturday night, as Jim Boeheim lost his mind over a call, got himself tossed and then became a meme.

All in a day’s work, I guess.

What was lost in the madness of Boeheim’s overreaction, however, was whether or not the right call was actually made.

Seth Davis os SI.com got the official who called a charge on C.J. Fair on the phone on Sunday night, and while Greene would not discuss whether or not the call that was made was correct, he did have this to say:

He did, however, tell me that he and his partners, Roger Ayers and Jamie Luckie, watched video of the play on an iPad in the officials’ locker room immediately afterward. When I asked Greene if he felt better after seeing the video, he replied, “Oh yes, absolutely.”

It was also interesting to hear Greene explain what was going through his mind as the pivotal sequence began. “I’m one of those guys who expects the unexpected,” he said. “I knew there’s not much time left, and that they were most likely going go to C.J. Fair, who’s not really a three-point shooter. You figure he’s going to go to the basket, so you prepare yourself. You’re thinking, how am I going to adjudicate what’s about to happen based on the rules?”

Working as a referee is not the easiest job in the world.

Whenever there is a close call to be made, there is going to be a fan base that ends up hating you after the final whistle. If he had called a block on Rodney Hood instead of calling a charge on Fair, Duke fans may not have let him leave Cameron.

  1. floriojr - Feb 24, 2014 at 2:53 PM

    “I’m one of those guys who expects the unexpected,” he said. “I knew there’s not much time left, and that they were most likely going go to C.J. Fair, who’s not really a three-point shooter. You figure he’s going to go to the basket, so you prepare yourself. You’re thinking, how am I going to adjudicate what’s about to happen based on the rules?”

    there is no way that man thought those words. at that time and in that situation. How am I going to adjudicate what’s about to happen.. get the hell outta here with that. bad call but it was close and its @ duke so you expect it.

    easier to just say hey , its how I saw it.. but how am I going to adjudicate.. GTFOH

    • paustinwardsteel - Feb 24, 2014 at 3:37 PM

      Ironic that the spread was 6+ in favor of Duke too huh? smh. Bookies in Vegas made a boat load of cash on that call. Neither team was shooting well, but both teams were playing some tough defense. After nearly 40 minutes of play and only seconds left on the clock, to make a call like that, and on an OBVIOUS blocking foul, makes you think how much Greene made from that call. If you’re a basketball player, a coach, a ref, or a fan of basketball, and you can’t honestly say that was a blocking foul, then you know nothing about the rules of the game. And Greene? To make a call like that at such a pivotal moment in the game? You shouldn’t be reffing period! I hope he’s not a ref in the tournament. If the payoff’s right, some teams could have a lot to lose. One thing’s for certain, ever since that call every resident of Syracuse, N.Y. has been cursing up and down for the last two days. Still in shock.

      • wunderphil - Feb 25, 2014 at 12:06 AM

        That call hard to make in slow motion frame by frame. THE OBVIOUS BLOCKING FOUL WAS IN SYRACUSE WHEN THE REF SWALLOWED HIS WHISTLE AT THE GREAT HOOD ROBBERY!!!

      • gofinsgoheatfloria - Mar 2, 2014 at 8:07 AM

        “Bookies in Vegas made a boat load of cash on that call.”

        No. The spread at game time is the one that comes as close as possible to the losers covering the winners regardless of outcome. The vig way more than covers the slight imbalance that is unavoidable in each particular case.

        As the old philosopher said: somebody’s paying for all those lights, and it ain’t the house.

  2. eagles512 - Feb 24, 2014 at 3:46 PM

    I like to think I know plenty about basketball yet I think it could have been called either way. Very very close.

    • wunderphil - Feb 24, 2014 at 11:58 PM

      For certain.

  3. mogogo1 - Feb 24, 2014 at 4:35 PM

    Those are always tough calls to make. I likely would have went the other way, but that was with the benefit of watching multiple replays of it.

    The lesson from it all is that they still would have had a chance if not for the double technical complaining about the call. And while I understand coaches remembering close calls that went against them earlier in the game, no way can anybody effectively ref a game while keeping a tally of earlier calls…you have to just take it one call at a time.

  4. protectthishouse54 - Feb 24, 2014 at 6:06 PM

    The real issue is about consistency. The NCAA went out of their way in the off-season to establish clear block/charge rules. The earlier call on Gbinije can’t go one way, and then have this call go the other way.

    As for Greene’s comments, they’re kind of disturbing. As a referee, you need to position yourself properly and call it like you see it (not how you think it will unfold). Seems like he pre-determined a charge call there. That said, it was still a great game. Just wish he would’ve swallowed the whistle and we could have seen 60-60 with 10 seconds to play.

  5. wunderphil - Feb 25, 2014 at 12:03 AM

    Come on, orange whiner. Swallowed this one? Yeah, blow the whistle in The Great Hood Robbery in Syracuse that changed the entire complexion of the last 16 sec. No half court foul for easy FT, but Syracuse would have had to make a basket. And if there was CONSISTENCY, then there would be no holds barred on the Syracuse shooters defender.

  6. kentuckygolfnut - Feb 25, 2014 at 9:23 AM

    Tony Green is a terrible ref. this is the second game in recent times he has impacted the final outcome by a call he made. He wants to be the “name” for the game he refs. the other one was the Ky/Fl game when he came from the far end of the court to call a technical on Calipari who had his back to him so no way he could have heard anything he said. The comment about the line on betting may have some validity to it and the Commissioner needs to sit down and talk with him on calling the games and how he does so, maybe even check out some bank deposits?

  7. hoopslvr - Feb 25, 2014 at 12:14 PM

    Now we have the phrase the “great Hood robbery”; no wonder law officials have difficulty with eye witness reports. We tend to see what we feel. Hard to get past it. Only after seeing replay of Hood was I convinced it was not a foul on Christman. If I were Dukie I would have been more peeved about Parker’s fifth. In this past game, need to have consistency with Parker charge and Fair/Hood charge. Fair also avoided contact and Hood with slow replay was moving into him from left a bit. Parker just bull dozed a set SU player. Also if you look at replay Christman was fouled on his dunk by Parker, though I can live with no call.

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