Right Call Made At End Of San Diego State-Creighton Game, But That Was Still Wrong, And I Have The Solution: Guilbeau

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Sometimes the best call is no call, even though that is wrong.

Such was the case at the end of another thrilling 2023 NCAA Tournament game on Sunday at Louisville in the South Region championship game.

Tied 56-56 in the final seconds, No. 5 seed San Diego State guard Darrion Trammell lets go of a floater in the lane just as he is fouled by No. 6 seed Creighton’s Ryan Nembhard. Trammell misses the shot as a foul on Nembhard is called with 1.2 seconds to go.

Trammell misses the first free throw, but makes the second. And San Diego State holds on for a 57-56 win that sends the Aztecs to their first Final Four Saturday in Houston.

San Diego State Did Not Steal One, But Creighton Got Robbed

Nembhard did foul Trammell, but not hard. It was not a no-brainer call. Nembhard placed his left hand on Trammell’s right side and nudged. If the shot was altered, it didn’t look like it much. Nembhard followed through with his nudge, or push, and Trammell hit the court. But it wasn’t a tackle. Trammell is a great athlete. He probably could have kept his balance, but it’s always good to fall after contact after a shot in basketball. It can sell a call, and Trammell got the call.

Watch the replay of the foul call against Creighton that led to San Diego State’s win on Sunday.

After the game, former NBA star Charles Barkley said on CBS that the call should not have been made because of the timing of the call. He didn’t like an official impacting the outcome of a game so dramatically. He is correct.

Former two-time national champion Villanova coach Jay Wright was asked if the foul altered Trammell’s shot. He said it did, so a foul should have been called. He is also correct.

But Wright, who is off to a great start as an analyst one year after retirement by the way, made another excellent point. He said a coach is going to say that call should not have been made because of the way the game had been called throughout the previous 39 minutes and 58.8 seconds for the most part. It was a rough game. Officials were letting them play and looking past some contact and not calling fouls. So why call such a foul then? He is correct again.

Darrion Trammell Was Fouled

FOX basketball play-by-play man Tim Brando said the call should not have been made because how physical the game had allowed to be previously. He is also right.

ESPN play-by-play legend Dick Vitale joined the fray.

And he is also right.

But making the call, regardless of how sound the logic is, is not good in that situation. In a perfect world, it would be. But it’s not a perfect world in the world of officiating basketball. It never has been.

Every basketball and football official I have ever spoke to or heard interviewed says the same thing. They try to give both teams a chance to win. This is exactly why there are makeup calls. Close call on one side of the floor against Team A, and Team B will get a call very soon. The fix is in. Officials are manipulating the game to keep the game fair. They’re not fixing the game for gamblers, like former NBA official Tim Donaghy. They’re fixing the game to keep it fair. It has always been like that.

Contrived, but it works.

“Keep it fair,” Rodney Dangerfield says as he slips some large bills to an official on the golf course in Caddyshack. Not quite the same thing, but you get the idea. Officials are likely keeping track in their mind, “OK, this team probably deserves a call to even things out.”

Ryan Nembhard Should Not Have Been Called With A Foul

So if you’ve been doing that the whole game and letting fouls go here and there, you can’t all of a sudden go all straight at the end just because it’s the end, and everybody’s watching.

It was a tough call or no-call, no question. That is why there are solid arguments on both sides.

And that is why, the official should have taken the opportunity in front of him.

If the modus operandi of officials is to keep it fair, then the official should have swallowed his whistle. If the shot goes in, San Diego State wins. And he had good shot even with the contact. If the shot misses, then you go to overtime.

That’s the right call – overtime, as in a do-over because it was just too close to call.

Everybody wins … at that point. If a foul is not called, San Diego State doesn’t lose there. It’s still tied. Both teams get a fair chance of winning in overtime. Now, there could have been just as difficult a decision at the end of overtime, or at the end of the second overtime, but you at least did what you could.

This way, the chances of the players deciding the game in overtime is greater – as Barkley said – than an official’s call having such an impact.

Official’s Call Unfortunately Decided The Game

“You work so hard all year, and it comes down to a play like that,” Nembhard said.

Yes. Overtime would have been better. And we all would have had five more minutes of glorious March Madness.

And a tip of the bracket to Creighton coach Greg McDermott, who took the high road when it would have been completely understood had he not.

“Two teams played their tails off,” he said. “Officiating is part of the game. We’re not going to go there.”

Overtime would have been the there to go to.

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

Guilbeau joined OutKick as an SEC columnist in September of 2021 after covering LSU and the Saints for 17 years at USA TODAY Louisiana. He has been a national columnist/feature writer since the summer of 2022, covering college football, basketball and baseball with some NFL, NBA, MLB, TV and Movies and general assignment, including hot dog taste tests.

A New Orleans native and Mizzou graduate, he has consistently won Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) and Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) awards since covering Alabama and Auburn at the Mobile Press-Register (1993-98) and LSU and the Saints at the Baton Rouge Advocate (1998-2004). In 2021, Guilbeau won an FWAA 1st for a game feature, placed in APSE Beat Writing, Breaking News and Explanatory, and won Beat Writer of the Year from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA). He won an FWAA columnist 1st in 2017 and was FWAA's top overall winner in 2016 with 1st in game story, 2nd in columns, and features honorable mention.

Guilbeau completed a book in 2022 about LSU's five-time national champion coach - "Everything Matters In Baseball: The Skip Bertman Story" - that is available at www.acadianhouse.com, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble outlets. He lives in Baton Rouge with his wife, the former Michelle Millhollon of Thibodaux who previously covered politics for the Baton Rouge Advocate and is a communications director.


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  1. Creighton did not lose because of a foul call at the end of the game. They lost because SDSU held them to 23 points in the second half, and two of those points were gifted to tie the game. Also, had a foul not been called, who’s to say that SDSU’s Jaedon LeDee, who immediatley got the rebound in front of the basket, would not have just dropped the ball in for two points anyway. Eleven fouls were called on both teams during the game. Does SDSU get to cancel one of those fouls that sent Creighton to the line for points? Bottom line, don’t foul the shooter if you can’t afford to give the foul.

  2. There is a lot of assumption by the no-call folks that this wasn’t a hard foul. I don’t think Trammel’s basketball IQ is high enough to flop after he got by the defender. If the defender was still in front of him, and he gives the same push on the hip, it’s a no call…

    BUT…He beat him…He had a clean look on a floater, and instead of jumping up and swiping which would have been an easy foul call, the dude just rode his hip and knocked him down. He thought he was by him, which he was, but that’s why he fell. Completely off balance, because he was in the air shooting an uncontested floater, with the exception of the dude glued to his hip.

    This is a pretty stupid argument. People have to much time on their hands, myself included apparently.

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