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Mourning After

Bibby, facing possible punishment for his comments, would like to replay final seconds of USC's loss to Rhode Island.

November 28, 2002|Paul Gutierrez | Times Staff Writer

The Pacific 10 Conference will consider punishing USC Coach Henry Bibby for comments he made about game officials after the Trojan basketball team's 73-71 overtime loss Tuesday night at Rhode Island.

Assistant Commissioner Jim Muldoon said Wednesday that any action, most likely a reprimand, probably will come next week.

But Bibby, a cross-country flight obviously having failed to sooth his angst, made it clear Wednesday afternoon he is not finished fighting.

"I'm not accepting a reprimand in the Pac-10," he said. "They need to look into the situation and find out what happened. I have a right, in this country, to voice my opinion. Should I get reprimanded for voicing my opinion? No.

"Am I to be reprimanded for telling the truth?"

Bibby's version of the truth makes him want to file a protest over what happened in the final 2.2 seconds of overtime.

Rhode Island, playing its first game in $54-million Ryan Center, took the lead on a Dustin Hellenga basket as the shot clock expired. The buzzer led the Rams to believe that the game was over and the team and several fans stormed the court.

USC quickly passed the ball in and Desmon Farmer made a three-point basket at the other end of the court, after which the Trojans, believing they had won at the buzzer, celebrated as they ran to their locker room.

Utilizing a new rule that allows referees to watch replays of game-ending plays, the officials determined that the ball was still in Farmer's hand when time expired and the Rams were declared winners.

Bibby doesn't dispute that Farmer's shot was late. But he says Rhode Island should have been assessed a technical foul before that.

"If the shot wasn't good and the clock went off, that's the rules of the game," Bibby said. "But if there are more than five players on the floor ... that are impeding the progress of us getting the basketball in, then that's a technical foul."

Had a technical been called, USC would have received two free throws and possession.

Plus, Bibby said, whistles were blown as the Trojans brought the ball up court, which should have stopped play and, thus, given USC a chance to inbound the ball and play the final 2.2 seconds after clearing the court.

Bibby said the three-man Atlantic 10 Conference officiating crew of Joe DeMayo, Murph Shapiro and Bill McCarthy never gave him an official reason for the final decision.

"I think one of the officials' explanation was that the [extra Rhode Island] guys on the floor did not stop the progress of the play," Bibby said. "How ludicrous is that? That's not for him to say. It's for him to call the rules.

"The rules are that if there are more than five people on the floor and the ball is in play, it's a technical foul. That's what should have been called."

So what does Bibby think will happen if USC files a protest?

"Probably nothing would happen," he said.

But what would he like to see happen?

"To play the 2.2 seconds over again and we shoot the technical and get the ball and play from there," Bibby said.

"That's not realistic, but in all fairness to USC and in all fairness to the kids that played the basketball game, that played their hearts out, that's fair."

Instead, the next ruling about the game might come from the Pac-10, which has jurisdiction when any of its coaches chooses to rip a game official, as Bibby did after the game.

"It's the worst-officiated game I've ever seen since I've been coaching basketball, since 1981," Bibby said of a game in which the Trojans were called for nine more fouls, 25-16, and attempted 11 fewer free throws, 21-10, than the Rams.

Bibby, who said after the game that the officials wanted Rhode Island to win the first game in its new, on-campus arena, said the experience has soured him on playing East Coast games -- even if they do give his program more national recognition.

"It just wasn't a fair game," he said. "It's tough to want to go back East to play when you're in situations like that."

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