It’s too bad Buddy Hield’s halfcourt heave was discounted on Friday night at Kansas City’s Sprint Center.
Not “too bad” strictly because the Oklahoma Sooners lost. There’s no cheering in the press box, nor on this blog.
It’s “too bad” because those are the kind of shots we have grown to love about March Madness, the kind of shots we remember 20 years from now, the kind of shots ESPN or someone else will do a film about one day. It was an incomparable moment lost, and maybe for no real reason.
Forget for a moment about being a Sooner fan. The reality is, only West Virginia folks didn’t want that shot to go in. It was that amazing.
But what’s really too bad about Hield’s shot is that there were disparate clocks in the arena giving coaches and players differing opinions about how much time was actually left before Hield’s shot was released.
Differing opinions about how much time was left? What is this, science fiction?
The clocks inside the Sprint Center — the ones above the backboards and the ones displayed on the LCD ribbon between the upper and middle decks — showed different times.
They were not synced.
I snapped a photo of my TV last night, freeze-framed, of Hield’s release. The clock over the backboard clearly says “0.0” but the clock on the LCD ribbon clearly says “0.4.”
We are told over and over that the only clocks in the arena that really matter, the ones the officials follow, is the ones over the backboard — the shot clock. That’s understandable. When those clocks expire, a red light around the backboard illuminates. That’s the best indicator for those on the floor that a shooter did or didn’t beat the shot clock.
That’s fine. In that vein, the correct call was made and Hield’s shot didn’t count. The ball was still touching his fingers when the backboard clock rolled from “0.1” to “0.0.” No good.
But the question must be asked: Why are all the arena clocks not synced? It’s 2016, you know, it can’t be that hard to get an electrical signal to reach all points in the arena at the same exact moment. Reporters covering the Big 12 Tournament last night asked about the disparate clocks and were told they were always about a half-second off, with no explanation why.
Another question must be asked: Could Hield have been looking at the ribbon clock rather than the backboard clock when he took his dribbles and set up to shoot? Both clocks are in the sightline from the spot on the floor where he released his shot. Both clocks read 1.8 seconds when the Sooners inbounded the ball, and yet Hield may have been looking at a clock that was running a half-second behind?
How is that fair?
Ask Hield which clock he was looking at and he might not even remember — might not even acknowledge he saw a clock. But in that moment, with the tension and the adrenaline and a championship date with Kansas on the line, it’s likely that Hield experienced a sensory overload, too much information happening too fast, to recall such details as which clock he was going by.
Are the Sprint Center clocks just unable to sync? Is the technology outdated? Does the Sprint Center tech staff think it doesn’t really matter? Or that no one would notice? Or do they need to call tech support to make those clocks all say the same thing?
In the end, it matters little. OU gets a much-needed extra day of rest for the NCAA Tournament. The Sooners will still be a 2-seed, and they’ll still be in Oklahoma City next week. Hield will still win national player of the year.
It’s just too bad that so many college basketball fans who thrill in the unforgettable March Madness moments like Hield’s may have had Friday’s moment taken away by a screwy clock.