Now, I’m not one to complain about refs, especially when it comes to deciding the outcome of games. I’m of the belief that out of every 5-10 plays officials sway the consequence of maybe one of them. So, over the course of the game, their involvement is so minimal that other factors like the ability to rebound, attack passing lanes, and simply make shots determines who wins and loses.
And to be clear, it wasn’t Teddy Valentine’s actions yesterday that caused Cincinnati come up empty on the road. UConn did a tremendous job creating a no-man’s land for UC players around the basket and completely negating Justin Jackson’s presence in the game. Plus the Bearcats simply couldn’t get anything going offensively from anyone not named Sean Kilpatrick, an issue that has haunted this Cincinnati team of late. It was yet another example of UC’s offense wasting an excellent defensive effort.
But what bothered me, and most around the Twitterverse, was an incident that occurred midway through the second half of yesterday’s contest. With the Bearcats scrapping to keep up with a UConn team that had expanded a 1-point halftime lead to 8, the game was dangerously close to slipping away from Cincinnati. Titus Rubles and Huskie guard Shabazz Napier were clawing for a rebound on the floor and as the ball rolled past the baseline, referee Teddy Valentine grabbed it, and brought play to a halt. He immediately called that the ball ricocheted off of Rubles last putting the possession arrow in UConn’s favor.
And as soon as Valentine made the decision, Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin ran down the sideline to protest the call. I’m not sure what he said (it seemed like a short phrase) or whether it was laced with expletives, but Teddy Valentine immediately took offense to it and jumped in his face. Take a look:
Keep in mind that Mick Cronin doesn’t blow his top until TV Teddy runs over, puffs out his chest, and stands over the UC coach in a domineering fashion, essentially instigating a fight. And Mick, frustrated over his team’s performance, bit. Hard.
It’s not uncommon for a coach to lose his cool (hi, Jim Boeheim!) and under the circumstances I think we can all agree that Mick kept it together pretty well yesterday. But never in my life have I seen a “professional” referee in a major collegiate basketball game do what Teddy Valentine did. He was so arrogant and thin-skinned as to actually step into a coaches face and basically beg him to take a swing.
It was basically the opposite of professionalism and the NCAA and/or the American Conference need to step in and reprimand Valentine for his actions. Most others agree.
Let’s start with Dan Dakich, who went off on a glorious rant yesterday while calling Michigan State-Illinois. I don’t always agree with Dakich, especially after he called out Cashmere Wright last season for something he didn’t do, but this is sensational:
Others took to Twitter to voice their displeasure with Valentine.
I think he should be RT @Packnation13: Seth does Teddy Valentine need to be reprimand for his actions today
— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) March 2, 2014
Holy smokes. Teddy Valentine just completely baited Mick Cronin. That’s embarassing. No idea how Mick didn’t get a T or run.
— Tom Gelehrter (@Tommy_G) March 1, 2014
“@espnbob: you don’t think Ted Valentine provoked Mick Cronin by stepping right up into his face? To me that was aggressive” It was.
— Andy Katz (@ESPNAndyKatz) March 1, 2014
But maybe we’re taking too much of this. Maybe it’s not that big of a deal and we all need to just move on with our lives. Mick will be Mick and TV Teddy will be a conceited blowhard, which apparently is his purpose on this Earth. Maybe the next logical step is to make a major motion picture out of this incident.
Mick Cronin and Ted Valentine, A Love Story: pic.twitter.com/EpGB1SsIsd
— Weather Moose (@WXMoose) March 2, 2014
I’d watch it.