Scott Fowler, an excellent writer for the Charlotte Observer, made a couple of phone calls on Monday. One was to Billy Packer who continued to defend his on-air comments about Gerald Henderson's flagarant foul on Tyler Hansbrough at the end of the Duke-North Carolina game this past Sunday.
The other was to ESPN's Jay Bilas. Bilas played at Duke and coached at Duke....so if there is anyone that could be pointed to with a media bias towards the Blue Devils [here's looking at you Billy Packer and Dick Vitale], it'd be Bilas.
But Bilas, in this interview, who defends the officials decision and takes a veiled shot at his former coach, Mike Krzyzewski. In the interview, Fowler asked Bilas about the officials' call. Bilas didn't think Henderson was head-hunting, but did agree with what ended up happening:
I thought the officials' response was measured and appropriate. There was nothing wrong with Hansbrough going after that rebound. There was nothing wrong with him trying to score, or with Henderson fouling him. The problem was it was an excessive foul. The rule as written has nothing to do with intent. I don't think Henderson intended to hurt him, but that's not the issue. It was a foul that was too hard. It doesn't make either of them bad kids.
Seems like Bilas knows a bit about the rule book, eh? I agree with him fully. I really don't think Henderson intended to hit Hansbrough in the face like that. I am a life-long Tar Heel fan and I really believe that. However, I do believe he tried to foul Hansbrough hard. Why else would he have launched his body into a player that was on the other side of the rim like that?
Then, Bilas was asked if Hansbrough should have even been in the game [if you remember, one of Packer's first comments after the incident was about him still being on the floor].
We've been listening for this kind of talk for years and years and it's always made me laugh. It's all second-guessing. If you don't want the other guys' starters in, take yours out. There's a 3-point line in the game and that makes these games wholly unpredictable. But if you want to wave your white flag, do so, and the other coach will, too.
Again, I agree. With :20 left on the game clock, Duke had Josh McRoberts, Greg Paulus, Gerald Henderson and Jon Scheyer...the four best players Duke has...on the floor. Paulus fouled UNC's Bobby Frasor near midcourt [an obvious attempt to stop the clock], which fouled Paulus out of the game. At that stoppage of play, UNC seniors Wes Miller and Reyshawn Terry came out of the game so they could get their final standing ovation at the Dean Smith Center. Hansbrough didn't come out then, because Roy Williams didn't want his ovation to overshadow the seniors. Frasor missed the free throw, which Hansbrough rebounded and Josh McRoberts instantly fouled him [again, stopping the clock], which was McRoberts last foul. Since Hansbrough [who had a sub waiting for him at the scorers table] was shooting the free throws, he couldn't have been replaced.
If Coach K had earlier called off his dogs, Coach Williams would have too. But Duke, who six years ago made a 10-point comeback in the final minute against Maryland, had it's best lineup on the floor, playing aggressively. UNC couldn't afford to empty their bench yet. I'm not blaming Coach K for not having his guys out of the game....but pointing out that if it is okay for Duke to keep trying to win the game, then it's alright for North Carolina to keep them from doing so.