February 11, 2008

Clock Stopper in Knoxville

The rematch of last year's National Championship game between Tennessee and Rutgers was all that we hoped for. We had the tremendous atmosphere in Knoxville with a packed house of Lady Vols fans that were thinking pink. We had one of best performances of Candace Parker's career coming off a knee scare last weekend in Starkville. We had another great Rutgers comeback. And we had some home cooking by the Clock Operator at Summitt Court...that really left a bad taste in my mouth.

Are you kidding me? With under 20 seconds left, Pat Summitt calls a clear out for Candace Parker...a 1-4 low set that they run to have her create for the game winner. But Rutgers does a great job of denying her the basketball. Senior point guard Shannon Bobbitt (who Coach Summit just scolded for picking up a technical foul just minutes ago) is forced to take a pull-up jumper from 15 feet out with time running down. The clock should run out after Bobbitt's miss. SHOULD. I think the clock is still stopped at 0.2 seconds. Accident? Maybe. The chances of it being an accident? SLIM. Sure enough with the clock stopped at 0.2 Nicky Anosike is fouled during the rebound scramble...and she wins the game at the free throw line.

The home court advantage at Tennessee is tremendous enough without the scorer's table's help. There is nothing like playing on the road in Knoxville. It is by far the best road experience I've ever had. My last season at Florida, we beat a Hornbuckle-less Tennessee on Shauna Zolman's senior night. It was unreal...kind of like the game that Candace Parker had tonight. It was funny to hear Coach Peck calling for Candace Parker to take every Tennessee shot down the stretch...because that was pretty much our game plan when we beat Tennessee...let Candace get hers and shut down the "role players." It's just really sad to me that on this night...one of the best games of the 2007-2008 season, was decided by a role player that Rutgers had no chance of shutting down...the clock operator.

Bill Ferrara Bill Ferrara
CMU assistant Bill Ferrara gives his inside opinions on women's hoops.