UL's Marlin amid Sun Belt officiating controversy: Every call matters
When UL visits UL Monroe on Saturday, the Ragin’ Cajuns — coming off a road split in Georgia — will face what could be one rather flustered Sun Belt Conference basketball team.
If the Warhawks indeed are frustrated, it’s with good reason — and only partly the result of their own doing.
ULM lost a pair last week, also in Georgia, both by one point and both on a play that came as the clock wound to zero — one of which happened in quite-controversial fashion, thanks to an officiating blunder, something UL coach Bob Marlin addressed when asked Monday.
“Monroe had both games won with less than 6 seconds to go,” Marlin said, “and they give up 3 to Georgia Southern, and then they turned around and give up a travel that results in a basket.”
More:Gant comes up big as Cajuns win thriller over Eagles
That’s right, "a travel that results in a basket."
First things first:
Last Thursday night, Georgia Southern beat ULM 79-78 after Tookie Brown drove the lane and passed to Quan Jackson for a winning trey from the left corner.
That’s the same Georgia Southern team UL beat 87-85 in Statesboro on Saturday, two days after it fell 89-76 to Georgia State in Atlanta.
More:3-point barrage lifts GSU past Cajuns
Related:Cajuns' challenge is handling Georgia Southern's Brown
On Saturday afternoon it was ULM that was in Atlanta, and it was there that the Warhawks were dealt a crushing blow heard around the Sun Belt.
Georgia State’s D’Marcus Simonds — reigning SBC Player of the Year — took a pass at halfcourt and, after clearly traveling, scored a buzzer-beating layup to beat ULM 74-73.
“It’s very, very unfortunate for something like that to happen,” Marlin said. “Basically, it cost Monroe the game.”
Georgia State, meanwhile, improved to 13-4 including 4-0 in league play.
The Sun Belt’s response?
On Saturday night, not long after the play in question was panned in social media circles, the conference issued a one-game suspension for the game’s officiating crew.
The three referees involved — according to the game’s official box — were Tim Fitzgerald, Landon Cammock and Archibald Whaley.
More:Davis could be key wild card for UL during Georgia week
“When such an egregious error occurs that directly determines the outcome of a game,” SBC commissioner Karl Benson said in a statement, “it cannot be ignored.”
Marlin was asked Monday if, that being the case, he felt a one-game suspension was enough.
“I would have defended a little bit different, personally,” he said. “But, still, things happen. And it’s very unfortunate.
“But officials need to be held accountable. They are to some degree; I mean, there was a quick statement that was sent out. I don’t know if their names went out or not.”
Referee names were not, in fact, included within the Sun Belt’s statement.
“They should,” Marlin said, “just like their names should be in every box score, so everybody can know.
“I remind them all the time — I did Saturday — that, ‘This game’s televised; a lot of people are watching, so you need to make sure you’re making the right calls.’”
With so much at stake that really is important, suggested Marlin, whose 11-6 Cajuns are tied with seven other teams, including 9-7 ULM, at 2-2 early in Sun Belt play.
More:Cajuns survey options without Marquetti
Texas State sits second in the league behind Georgia State at 3-1 and 14-3 overall.
“It certainly affects things in the long-term, in the seeding (for conference-tournament play),” Marlin said. “Every call, every game, matters.”
With no mechanism in place to reverse the outcome of a game, even after such an “egregious” mistake was acknowledged by the conference hours later, Marlin feels it’s imperative that the correct call be made on the floor before it’s too late.
He even suggested a reversal should have occurred at the scorer’s table after a videotape review of the play.
Not that, in this particular case, it should have ever come to that.
“Somebody’s got to see it,” Marlin said.
“You’ve got three guys, and there are six eyes on that play. … Two of the eyes have got to catch that and bring everybody in and stop it.
“They always say, ‘We want to get it right.’ They go to the monitor numerous times and stop the flow of the game,” the Cajuns coach added. “So, the game’s over; go back and get it right.’ ”
Even Simonds himself, incidentally, acknowledged that he traveled.
"And pushed off," he boasted on Twitter.
UL forward JaKeenan Gant was named both Sun Belt and Louisiana Sports Writers Association Player of the Week on Monday. The senior had a 36-point, 11-rebound double-double in the loss at Georgia State, then scored 22 with 12 boards, a career-high five assists and five blocks in the victory at Georgia Southern. … Gant surpassed 1,000 career points in the win over Georgia Southern. He now has 1,019, including 754 in less than two full seasons at UL and 265 in two seasons at Missouri. … Marlin said he’d “like to hope” that on Saturday the Cajuns get back freshman backup point guard Trajan Wesley, who missed UL’s last two games with a sprained ankle.
More:Gant plays Superman with 45 to carry Cajuns