Why All the Fuss?

So, what's eating Georgia basketball Head Coach Dennis Felton?

An unusual play on Georgia's last offensive possession which led to Ronald Steele's last-second, game-winning shot (which gave Alabama its only lead of the day at 78-76) seemed to be at the center of Felton's anger.

On Georgia's last shot it appeared that the ball did not touch the rim before the 35-second shot clock expired, but official Tom Lopes said later that instant replay indicated the ball did graze the rim. After the shot a Georgia player rebounded it and ended up knocking the ball out of bounds.

But Lopes, thinking the ball had not touched the rim, had already blown his whistle for a shot clock violation as action continued, and when the refs determined that the ball did hit the rim, they ruled that Lopes' inadvertent whistle made the ball dead, and that possession would be determined by the alternating possession arrow.

The arrow was in Alabama's favor.

The only other two conceivable options would have been to rule that the ball had not hit the rim and that a shot clock violation did occur (giving the ball to Alabama) or that play continued without a shot clock violation and that the ball was out of bounds off a Georgia man (giving the ball to Alabama).

Even so, when asked if he was satisfied with the explanation he received about the ruling, he said he'd rather not answer that question. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Chip Towers caught up with Felton outside the Bulldogs' lockerroom and asked him a similar question.

He said, "Unlike any other situation in this country, your First Amendment rights are taken from you when it comes to [commenting on officiating]. We can talk about every single part of the game except that part. Obviously we can't have a do-over, so the game goes down as a loss, and there is no recourse."

"Officials will keep officiating for as long as they want to keep officiating. There just isn't any recourse."

Even if he could do it over, it's hard to imagine Felton constructing a reasonable do-over scenario that would have given Georgia an edge. What does he want, a fresh shot clock and the ball back? or just to go ahead and count the basket? And why is anyone asking Felton if he would somehow protest the outcome of the game (a question that really was asked in the post-game)?

On Monday during the Southeastern Conference basketball teleconference he was asked a question that adopted the mistaken premise that Georgia got screwed by the refs in the game, and Felton said, "I'd say we're probably more on the infuriated side" than the devastated side (repeating the phraseology of the questioner). "I don't think we're devastated at all. Our players understood we played pretty well and were dominant for most of the game."

Actually, Georgia was dominant for only one tenth of the game – the first four minutes when they went up 15-0. They held that 15 point lead until halftime and ended up losing by two.

Perhaps Felton was just upset about the overall free throw disparity in the game (Alabama shot 27, Georgia 13), or maybe he thought Steele traveled before getting off that last second shot (SEC officials maintain he did not), but he won't get any sympathy for those run-of-the-mill complaints about league officiating.

And the free throw differential should be no surprise. As of Monday morning's games, Alabama commits fewer fouls than any other team in the country – a stat some would say lends to Bama's at times lackluster defense.

And by the way, the last time Felton came to Coleman Coliseum two years ago he didn't bring a basketball team, but instead brought a goon squad that committed 34 fouls and had six men foul out in a losing effort. Maybe Felton will exhibit a little more professionalism the next time he brings Georgia to Coleman Coliseum – if he's still around.


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