That’s Debatable: Revisiting the Butler-Xavier Fiasco

Posted by rtmsf on December 23rd, 2009

Each week RTC will posit a That’s Debatable question or topic that is relevant to the world of college basketball.  Sometimes whimsical, sometimes serious, we’ll post the thoughts from our core editing crew (in 200 words or less), but we’ll also be expanding to include our contributors and correspondents as appropriate throughout the season.  We also invite you, the readers, to join us as we mull over some of the questions facing the game today.  Feel free to send us your takes and/or leave them in the comments below.

This Week’s Topic: What do you think about the whole Butler vs. Xavier fiasco at the end of their game over the weekend?

Crawford Wasn't Happy About the Decision to End the Game

Crawford Wasn't Happy About the Decision to End the Game

zach hayes – editor/contributor, RTC

When the crazy ending occurred and throughout the interminable review by the officials, I was convinced there was no way the officials could end the game without giving Xavier at least a chance for a miracle shot. For the officials to determine that a certain amount of time came off the clock with a stopwatch and end the game based on that ruling seems like a total reach. But taking a step back and reviewing the rule and the play, the officials did properly end the game. It was simply bad luck on Xavier’s part because if Hayward had released the ball just a split second longer, the Musketeers would have benefited from the rule and a riot may have ensued at Hinkle. It’s unfortunate to end such a dramatic and important game on a controversial ending directly involving the officials, but given the wild circumstances, the referees handled it properly.

john stevens - editor/contributor, RTC

The way I see it, the referees did what they could in that last bit where they got out the stopwatch and tried to figure out how much, if any, time should be remaining.  If the rule book allows them to do that, I realize it’s not a perfect solution but it’s the best way to correct that kind of error.  If they figure that there would have been a negative time balance left had there been “proper” timekeeping, then that’s just how it is.  I wonder, though, how much time is lost in the use of a stopwatch?  An official would have to have perfect reflexes to use a stopwatch and accurately determine how long such a stoppage lasted.  Even if there’s just .01-.02 seconds lost, any team would want any fraction of a second they could get.  Even if Xavier had been awarded the entire final 1.2 seconds to get off a shot, we’re talking about a last-second heave.  But they deserve the chance.  There are ways to prevent this problem in the future, but in this case I think the zebras got it…well, as right as they could get it.

nvr1983editor/contributor, RTC

Technically they made the right call since they have to go by the rules, but they handled the situation very poorly. While the majority of the blame goes to the person running the clock at Hinkle, the officials should have made sure that the appropriate equipment (in this case a stopwatch) was there. If the officials should be blamed for anything it is not realizing the clock had stopped earlier. I know it was chaotic, but one of the officials should have stopped the game in the 14 seconds between the clock stopping and Hayward’s layup. And the whole 1.3 seconds thing on a non-digital stopwatch seems ridiculous. Obviously they had to go run and find a stopwatch in some equipment room, but how do they decide it was 1.3 seconds? How many times do they measure it against the TV replay? Once? Twice? Ten times? Did they use an iPhone to time it? The entire thing seems ridiculous. In any event, the guy who runs the clock at Hinkle should be fired. Harsh? Sure. But how hard is it to push a button? With the unemployment rate at 10% (and much higher if you look at the underemployment rate), I’m sure there are plenty of talented individuals who can manage that task.

rtmsf – editor/contributor, RTC

My general thoughts on this were outlined after the game on Saturday night, but that doesn’t mean I have nothing else to say on the matter (after all, when have I ever shut up?).  There’s a general consensus that the officials at the game made the proper call from a technical standpoint by using a stopwatch to figure out how much time had been lost and then subtracting it from the clock at the final dead ball situation.  The problem I have with this is that, according to Andy Katz’s blog, the refs admitted that there had been another timing hiccup with 36 seconds left as well.  If we accept as true that Hayward’s shot indeed was released with 0.5 seconds remaining (the ‘correct’ time) in the game, and if we also factor in the previous hiccup at the 0:36 mark, wouldn’t that mean Xavier (probably) won the game?  It’s understandable why Chris Mack was so upset afterwards.  Let’s tie the clock to the whistles in every Division 1 arena and be done with this nonsense.

rtmsf (3775 Posts)


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2 Responses to “That’s Debatable: Revisiting the Butler-Xavier Fiasco”

  1. JR says:

    The problem I have with finishing the game is that we have no idea how Butler would have acted with 1.3 less seconds on the clock. Does Hayward shoot a layup or a try to float it in?

    They did the right thing in the end I guess according to protocol but I feel like the better solution is to give Butler the ball in the backcourt when the clock stopped and they had possession.

  2. greyCat says:

    Wasn’t there a 2nd clock stoppage at around the 5 second mark? The ball was loose in the lane and several players were on the oourt digging for it when the clock seemed to “pause” again. The game was over by the time Hayward got his layup to go.

    Hopefully the Selection Committee remembers this game should Xavier find itself on the bubble. A really bad call by the officials.

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