Though I’m not sure I buy Bob Raissman’s theory that Steve Lavin’s a UCLA apologist (it’s not as though he left the school voluntarily), the New York Daily News’ TV sports critic is right on the money in his criticism of ABC’s college basketball commentary team when it comes to the final moments of Saturday’s Cal/UCLA tilt.
Only those boycotting college highlights did not see Josh Shipp’s floater, launched from behind the glass with a couple of ticks left, give the Bruins a dramatic win. Whether the shot passed over the backboard, which would have nullified the hoop (the NCAA rulebook says “a ball shall be out of bounds if it passes over the backboard from any direction) is still a matter for debate.
That’s the problem. Neither Musburger – who got involved in basketball shortly after Dr. Naismith invented it – nor Lavin, a former coach, even discussed the possibility Shipp’s basket should not have counted. Considering ABC replayed the shot eight times, the voices had ample time to tackle the subject.
Musburger and Lavin did discuss a “foul” on UCLA, which was not called. They also went in-depth on a controversial call that helped UCLA get to overtime in a recent game with Stanford, a game the Bruins eventually won. But not a word – not one word – questioning whether Shipp’s shot passed over the backboard.
Now, for the stove-top angle. Lavin coached the Bruins from 1996-2003. He also was an assistant there from 1991-96. Was ignoring whether Shipp’s deuce was legit a case of a former coach being true to his school?
If anyone involved from ABC has trouble swallowing this theory, they should look in the mirror. When a coach is assigned to work a game involving his former team there will always be – at least – a perception of conflict. Anyone saying Lavin ignored the Shipp thing because he’s still carrying UCLA pom-poms has every right to do so.
Of course this would not explain why Musburger did not question the shot. It It also doesn’t explain why the producer did not tell the announcers to explain the rule.