The Wisconsin basket that tied the score 60-60 against Kentucky in the Final Four should not have counted. The shot came after the 35-second shot clock expired. But because the play occurred outside the final two minutes of the game (with about 2:40 on the clock), the referees were prohibited from catching the mistake by checking a sideline monitor.
"That was the problem," a composed John Calipari said Monday. "That's not (the referees') fault. That is the rule. So, you change the rules."
The NCAA Men's Basketball Rules Committee may follow the Kentucky coach's advice.
The committee chair, Belmont Coach Rick Byrd, said that the non-call, non-review of Nigel Hayes' basket in the Final Four semifinals will be on the agenda.
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"I'm sure we will discuss that play and its ramifications," Byrd said Friday.
People involved with the rules used the word "ironic" when asked about the Hayes basket that should not have counted. Jake Bell, the coordinator of men's basketball officials for the Southeastern Conference, said the issue came up at a meeting the day before Kentucky played Wisconsin. Coordinators from around the country recommended that Byrd's committee consider letting referees check the monitor on possible shot clock violations at any time during games.
Bell noted that referees already can check the monitor any time to decide if a basket was a two- or three-pointer. That's only a one-point difference, while a shot clock violation can potentially remove two or three points from the score.
If, as in Hayes' basket, a score comes after the shot clock expires, the referees could stop play, check the monitor and make the call. "That seems simple enough, right?" Byrd said.
But what if Hayes' shot missed, but Wisconsin scored on a put-back or used the extra possession to, say, make a three-pointer. That's a more tangled situation.
"It's a little bit ironic," said Byrd, who noted that he raised the issue before the Rules Committee last year after Eastern Kentucky scored after the shot clock expired against Belmont in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament.
"The bigger question is how far do we go with technology?" Byrd said. "And how much more we're willing to slow the game down to get a call right."
Conflicting aims complicate things. Of course, there's much discussion about increasing the speed of the game. Byrd said that reducing the shot clock from 35 to 30 seconds will be "considered seriously" by the committee. So will reducing the number of timeouts.
On his Sirius radio show this weekend, Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski offered other ideas to make college basketball more appealing. "You don't get renewable 10 seconds" to get the ball past half-court, he said. "That would help. I think a wider lane would help, a longer three-point line and an extended arc like the NBA has ... it seems like a lot, but it kind of flows into one another because I don't think you just do one."
Reviewing scores as the shot clock expires would lengthen games. One option not possible: abandoning technology, and living with human error.
"I think those horses are out of the barn," Byrd said. "Don't you?"
The loss to Wisconsin began a comparison of painful Kentucky defeats. The standard for fans old enough to recall is the loss to Texas Western in the 1966 national championship game. Rupp's Runts captured the imaginations and the hearts of UK fans in the 1965-66 season. The combination of exquisite teamwork, delicious surprise (15-10 the previous season) and David-and-Goliath story line made the jolt of defeat devastating.
Louie Dampier, who was officially announced as a Hall of Famer on Monday, needed no help in recalling the sting of the loss. His most vivid memory?
"Just how sad Adolph Rupp was," he said of the UK coach. "His postgame talk was very few words, which was unlike him. He usually had a lot to say after a game. He was so sad. I'd never seen him like that.
"Of course, we were, too."
Dampier pointed out that the Final Four format in 1966 called for the semifinals and finals on back-to-back nights.
"So we knew nothing about Texas Western going into that game," he said. "During the season, we played Saint Louis, and our scouting report told us they played a karate defense. So we have to really protect the ball, and we did and beat them.
"Texas Western kind of played that same way. We didn't know that's how they played because we didn't get a scouting report."
Don't be fooled
After announcing his intention to enter this year's NBA Draft, Andrew Harrison acknowledged the fascination of mock drafts. Of course, the various recruiting ratings somehow possess a powerful allure, too, but that's an annoyance for another day.
"I mean, people try to act like they don't pay attention to them," he said of mock drafts. "But all the (UK) freshmen — don't let them fool you — they paid attention to it. Me, myself, I'm not worried about. Of course, I feel like I'm the best player on there. So it doesn't matter."
Mock drafts updated by ESPN's Chad Ford and the websites DraftExpress.com and NBADraft.net last week did not include three of the seven UK players who are entering this year's NBA Draft as first-round picks. The three are Andrew and Aaron Harrison, and Dakari Johnson.
"You can't really worry about mock drafts and stuff like that," Andrew Harrison said. "You just have to show them in the workouts, show them in the combines and the team workouts. I'll be fine. I'm not worried about it."
Willie Cauley-Stein — who along with Karl-Anthony Towns, Trey Lyles and Devin Booker — is among the top 20 projected picks, noted how fluid the draft can be, especially more than two months before the actual picks are made.
"That stuff doesn't matter," Cauley-Stein said of the mock drafts. "... There will be a guy from Europe that will slide past everyone. 'Where did that guy come from?' I feel that's how the draft works. If you go in there and have good workouts and the interview process works well, you can slide way up."
The most recent performance can hold a disproportionate amount of importance. Against Wisconsin, Willie Cauley-Stein did not play one of his more productive games (two points, five rebounds, two blocks in 33 minutes).
Cause for concern?
"I'm not concerned about that," Cauley-Stein said. "They've already seen what they're going to see."
Cauley-Stein's value is difficult to capture in numbers. He became the first player with a scoring average of less than 10 points (8.9 ppg) to be named All-American in the history of The Associated Press voting (since 1948).
Cauley-Stein admitted he (and most other players) have no idea of their draft position. Nor do they know much about how interviews with NBA teams will go.
"Honestly, I don't know," he said. "I'm going in here so blind."
Cauley-Stein noted how his game is trending upward.
"The maturity level up so many levels," he said. "What are you going to look like in two or three more years? Maturity level is going to be way higher. Your game is going to be way higher."
Kentucky led the nation in field-goal percentage defense. Opponents made 35.4 percent of their shots.
Thus, UK came oh-so-close to the record for field-goal percentage defense (since the 1976-77 season). The record continues to belong to Stanford, which held its opponents in the 1999-00 season to 35.2 percent shooting accuracy.
If just seven more opponents' shots had missed, Kentucky would have set the record.
As it was, UK ranked No. 1 nationally in four statistical categories: win-loss percentage (.974), scoring margin (plus 20.1), total blocks (268) and field-goal percentage defense. The Cats ranked No. 2 in four other categories: blocks per game (6.5), total rebounds (1,482), free-throw attempts (943) and free throws made (685).
Two and done
In the late 1960s, Spencer Haywood challenged the existing NBA rule that required players entering the league to be out of high school at least four years. The rule blocked Haywood from entering the NBA after his sophomore season at the University of Detroit. He averaged 32.1 points and 21.5 rebounds during that 1968-69 season.
The courts ruled in Haywood's favor, which led to players moving directly from high school to the NBA. That has since evolved to become the so-called one-and-done rule.
Of course, Kentucky Coach John Calipari has built a dynasty with so-called one-and-done players.
That's the backdrop to a friendly exchange Monday between Haywood and Calipari, both of whom were announced as members of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame's Class of 2015 inductees.
When the 30-minute media opportunity ended, Haywood and Calipari happened upon each other. Jocularity ensued.
"What do you think of four-year players?" a smiling Haywood called out to Calipari.
To which the smiling UK coach replied, "You screwed it up for us. Helped players, (but) screwed up coaches."
Then Haywood and Calipari came together for a hug.
Andrew and Aaron Harrison were among a small group of UK players who did not shake hands with Wisconsin players after the game, per basketball custom. No slight was intended, the twins said.
"I thought they were celebrating like we would have," Andrew Harrison said of the Badgers. "All those guys are cool. We did not do it on purpose."
A reporter playfully asked Devin Booker about how he'd feel if drafted by the Golden State Warriors. He'd be on the same team as his favorite player, Klay Thompson, not to mention MVP candidate Steph Curry.
"That would be tough playing behind those two," Booker said with a smile. "I don't think I'd see the court much."
To Kyle Macy. He turned 58 on Thursday. ... To Derrick Jasper. He turns 27 on Monday. ... To Nerlens Noel. He turned 21 on Friday.