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Was the Clock Cooked at Cameron?

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Yeah, that was a fairly hokey title.

Duke vs Clemson was the big ACC game of the week and it did not disappoint right down to an incredible five points in 13 seconds rally from Clemson which undoubtedly reminded older Duke fans of the infamous eight points in 17 seconds from UNC in 1975. Anyhow, Duke pulled it out on a David McClure layup with 0.1 second left and walked out with a 68-66 win. The win was marred with a rather egregious timing error where the clock did not start for about two seconds when Vernon Hamilton picked up an errant Josh McRoberts' pass and nailed a three to tie the game at 66. The referees conferred and mysteriously determined that only 0.6 seconds elasped and Duke inbounded with 4.4 seconds left thus granting them just enough time to win the game.

The clock disparity has instigated a full blown firestorm, as one might expect. In fact the foks who run the Shoelessworks.com website produced this video almost as soon as the game ended[hat tip: 850 the Buzz]:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_bkoMl-XvA]

Now there are two questions to ask here:

1. Did the clock operator attempt to give Duke an advantage?

No. The reason being is that the clock operator would have to be pyschic. He/she has no way of knowing that failing to start the clock would actually benefit Duke because (1) Hamilton has to make the shot first and (2) if he is wrong and Clemson is able to get another shot off then he would actually have ended up giving the Tigers an edge. In other words the clock operator would have to be thinking: "Let me hold the clock for two seconds just in case this shot to tie the game goes in." The likely scenario is the clock operator simply did not start it as an honest mistake because of the manner in which McRoberts threw the ball away.

2. Did the refs attempt to give Duke an advantage by setting the clock at 4.4 seconds instead of 3.0?

Again the answer is no, not intentionally anyway. In short the referees in the ACC might be absolutely and utterly incapable of making the correct call when asked to do so but I have surmised they are not dishonest. And honestly I am not real sure which one is more disturbing. I just cannot understand how they botched this call, especially with the benefit of instant replay to make the correction. Missing a call on the fly is one thing but making a timing error of this magnitude while having the replay available to make certain you get it correct is borderline criminal. There is no way you can watch the replay and conclude that Vernon Hamilton scooping up the errant McRoberts' pass and the shooting the ball 20 feet to the basket could only take 0.6 seconds. In fact the NBA has determined that a catch and shoot is at least 0.3 seconds which does not account for a full jump shooting motion or the time it takes for the ball to travel to the basket. So if we take the NBA rule to be consistent determination of timing then according to the referees in this game it only took the ball 0.3 seconds to travel to the basket if you only account for the linear distance from Hamilton to the hoop and not the arch. Then consider that if an object is traveling 60 mph then it's velocity is one mile per minute or 5280 feet every sixty seconds. 5280 divided by 60 means the object is travling 88 feet per second, 44 feet per half second or around 25 feet in the 0.3 seconds in this play. That means when you also include the arc on the shot the ball would have to be cruising with the flow of traffic on I-40. The point is the officials in this game are so obviously incompontent that I would hope, nay beg, that the ACC would make sure these bozos do not call another game for the remainder of the year.

This kind of mistake should never happen and that fact it has happened once again painfully illustrates just how unimportant fair officiating is to the ACC.