Since St. Joseph’s 82-79 Atlantic Ten quarterfinal loss to VCU, it’s been suggested by Hawks fans that the technical foul on Halil Kanacevic was a major turning point.
Yes, the Hawks lost by just three, a deceptive margin, since they hit a three at the buzzer and VCU did let down in the last few minutes, but still it’s not a unrealistic thought that this turned the game around.
It’s just something we don’t agree with.
Still, in fairness, here is the quick background.
Trailing 51-43, Kanacevic was driving to the basket when he was whistled for a flagrant one foul for elbowing VCU’s Trevon Graham with 11:22 left in the second half. Graham made both free throws.
Teammate Troy Daniels then made a three pointer with 11:08 left and Darien Theus scored on a layup with 9:56 remaining, completing what was a 9-0 run, with seven of the points coming after the technical.
“It was a bad call, a horrible call by the official and he said we know you didn’t do it intentionally but you did it,” Kanacevic said.
The officials did explain to Kanacevic why they made the call.
“They said I hit him and if you hit somebody above the head with your arm or anthing it is automatically a flagrant one, but it’s a horrible call becaue I am driving to the basket and don’t know who is behind me,” he said. “It’s not like I grab a rebound and am chinning to throw elbows.”
Kanacevic said it was inadvertent contact.
St. Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli said the officials interrupted that Kanaceivc threw his elbow and caught Graham in the chin or throat. Martelli said he had nothing but praise for the officials, but then made one final statement on the play.
“I thought we had a bucket and a foul to cut it from eight to five and it went the other way and went to 10,” he said.
Kanacevic described it as a basketball play.
“I wasn’t trying to hit anybody,” he said. “I was going to the basket. It is a really bad call and helped change the game a little.”
Whether one agrees with the call or not, the fact that it was a game-changer is not something we’re buying.
At that point VCU was in command, burying threes and beating the Hawks down the court.
St. Joseph’s deserves a world of credit for fighting to the last second. Trailing 72-57, the Hawks outscored VCU, 22-10 over the final two minutes.
While VCU let its guard down, credit St. Joseph’s for taking advantage of this lapse. Yet the outcome wasn’t in doubt and one can be sure that some of the ill-advised shots the Rams hoisted in the final two minutes would not have been attempted if the game was closer.
One play didn’t make the difference in this game. Hawks fans likely disagree and that is understandable.
Even Kanacevic, as angry as he was about the call, gave the winners their proper due when asked about the Hawks’ fighting spirit.
“Effott was not a thing you can talk about and say we didn’t give enough effort or work hard enough,” Kanacevic said. “It was one of those things, they played better than us and made more shots with us.”