The Zebras Are Not Your Friends

Joe Gastler looks at why the officials aren't your friends and why it shouldn't matter

Every Big 12 conference game is a challenge. Winning on the road is tough. Winning at home is tough*. There’s parity to our league, and that’s a good thing. If we don’t wear each other down during the regular season, the Big 12 should be well-represented in the NCAA tournament.

I want to call something out though – and I include myself very prominently in this statement: enough with blaming the referees. Look, I get it. In fact, I can even prove it. In our non-conference schedule, we were at +3.92 in personal fouls (meaning that opponents were called for about four more fouls on average). If you take out an extremely lopsided game against Sam Houston, that drops to +3.33. In conference play, you would guess we’re about -4 in the opposite direction, and you’d be wrong. With tonight included, we’re -1.69 for conference play.

Here’s what’s crazy: if you take out the game at Kansas (which is a universal outlier), and tonight’s game against Texas Tech, our foul differential is exactly ZERO.

I understand that there’s a lot of nuance here. There were a few games where there was a wide gap in the foul margin until the end of the game. There are games where we get calls inside, and games where we don’t.

At the end of the day, there are three things we have to remember:

1)    You don’t win games if you don’t make shots.

  • We shot the ball terribly in the second half tonight. We bricked shot after shot after shot after shot. Lopsided officiating doesn’t explain that, unless you’re letting it shake your confidence. With the amount of experience on this team, we have to move past that. We’re not a blue blood yet. Make your shots.

2)   You don't win games if you don't make free throws.

  • What was up with that tonight? We missed eight free throws, mostly at crunch time. Our actual percentage (68%) wasn’t criminally bad, but we have to shoot better than that. We gave up eight points that could have changed the outcome of the game.    

3)    You don’t win games if you expect the refs to do it for you.

  • There are games where you have to play 8 on 5. There are going to be games where the other team feels that way. And frankly, if you’re expecting the Big 12 Conference to do Baylor any favors right about now, you’ve clearly been without internet, television, print, radio, or really media of any kind for a couple years. We’ve got some bad news. For more, please Google “Chip Brown” and just starting reading. 
  • What’s more, Baylor Nation, that’s fair. The other nine schools in our conference are pretty hacked off at us, and with some legitimate grievances. Regardless of what is going on at their respective schools, we had what appears to be a staggering level of incompetence at our university. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that any level of unfairness with regards to officiating is okay, but I wouldn’t be morally outraged by it.

So let’s do what we do. Let Scott Drew do what he does, and continue to teach our guys that you can’t let your frustration show. You can’t expect things to always go your way. You can’t let your past follow you around. You have to pick yourself and your family up, forget the past, and never stop fighting. See y’all Saturday.

Sic ‘em.

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