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Get inside March Madness with SI.com's Luke Winn in the Tourney Blog, a daily journal of college basketball commentary, on-site reporting and reader-driven discussions.
3/23/2007 11:19:00 PM

Once Again, Hoyas' Savior is Green

Memphis
DaJuan Summers (right) chased down Jeff Green (left) after the buzzer sounded.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Jeff Green
Jeff Green squeezed between two defenders and Georgetown squeezed out a win.
Michael Heiman/Getty Images
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- How Jeff Green wanted to celebrate his shining moment, we'll never know. Green isn't a particularly flamboyant player, so perhaps he didn't have any jersey-popping or arm-waving planned after he banked in the game-winning shot with 2.5 seconds left to lift Georgetown over Vanderbilt 66-65, and into the Elite Eight. Thanks to freshman teammate DaJuan Summers, though, Green's party consisted of being enveloped in a suffocating bear-hug near halfcourt.

"I just said, 'Gimme a hug, man, just hug me, because that was amazing'," Summers explained later, neglecting to consider that he gave Green no other option but to hug. "Jeff's made big shots before, like against Notre Dame in the Big East tournament, but this was different. It was on a whole different stage."

In a game that the second-seeded Hoyas nearly bumbled away -- falling behind by 13 points late in the first half, erasing that deficit in the second, then watching their star center, Roy Hibbert, foul out with 3:58 left, and giving Vandy the lead back with under 20 seconds left -- they were rescued by the player who had carried them through many of the 29 wins that had preceded this one. And even then, Green, who would finish with 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting, nearly coughed up the ball -- and Georgetown's season with it -- on the final possession. The play had him receiving the the rock near the right elbow, with instructions to look for Patrick Ewing Jr. on a backdoor cut, but that option wasn't available.

That would have been the storybook East Coast ending to this Friday night in Jersey, with one Ewing hitting the game-winner while another Ewing (his pops, Patrick, the ex-Knicks star who received an ovation when he appeared on the scoreboard in the first half) looked on from behind the bench. This game, however, was more stormy than scripted, and Green had to improvise against a double-team with the clock running down. He lost the ball at first as he spun, then recovered, calling it a "fumble play I had to make," and somehow found a way to kiss it off the glass and in. He appeared to have traveled on the replay, but at that crucial juncture, the refs' whistles were buried. "I got lucky," Green said of the shot, "and it went in."

"We knew what was coming," said Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings. "It looked like we had him covered, and I'm certainly not going to take away from the dignity of the game [by questioning the refs]. I haven't seen the replay, and I don't care to. He made a great shot."

After Commodores guard Alex Gordon had his prayer from just inside halfcourt blocked at the buzzer, Hibbert came running off the bench to join the mob scene. The gentle giant, whose bonehead foul on Derrick Byars' three-point attempt with 3:58 left both disqualified him and resulted in a 3-point Vandy lead, admitted that it hurt to watch the final four minutes from the pine. "But," said Hibbert, "I had faith they would pull it out in crunch time."

Hoyas guard Jessie Sapp, who was sitting next to the hug-happy Summers in the corner of the locker room, felt that crunch time was not the appropriate description for Green's situation.

"That's Jeff Green time," said Sapp. "And Jeff Green does what Jeff Green does. If he didn't do it again today, we're not moving on."

What Green has done, just in the past three weeks, is hit a game-winning jumper to beat Notre Dame in the Big East tourney semifinals; devastate Boston College with his late work on the offensive glass -- plays he made when his normal moves weren't working -- in the second round of the NCAA tournament; and Friday, push the Hoyas to within one game of the Final Four. In what is likely his last year in college before entering the NBA draft, the junior forward is relishing every opportunity to take the big shot.

"I like to have the ball in my hands in the [close] games, because I have confidence in myself that I can make plays," Green said in Georgetown's postgame press conference, with coach John Thompson III sitting at his side. "I'm willing to do whatever it takes to try to win the game, If that's having the ball in my hands or making another play to get my teammate open. Hopefully I'm one of those top players that can make those plays."

It was then that Thompson felt the need to chime in and confirm the hopes of his star. "His coach," said Thompson, "feels that way."

Good, then. We're all in agreement. The Hoyas are in good hands when Jeff Green Time rolls around, and he does what he does. It's usually something worthy of an embrace.

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posted by Luke Winn | View comments |

Comments:

Posted: March 24, 2007 12:16 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
If your right foot is your pivot foot, you can take a step with your left foot and then jump off that foot for a shot or pass. I don't get what all the controversy is about. It says right in the NCAA rulebook that you can lift your pivot foot before attempting a shot or pass, as long as the ball is gone before that foot hits the floor again. I can't believe the crew in the CBS studio seemed to contain not one person who understands this. Seth Davis even said "as soon as he lifts the pivot foot it's a travel" but that is in direct contradiction to the NCAA rulebook (and to common sense, really, since that happens all the time on jump shots).
Luke, how are you not talking about one of the most blatant no-calls in NCAA tournament history? I cannot remember a 7 day span where two teams got shafted worse than Xavier and Vanderbilt did in this tournament. The NCAA should be absolutely ripped for its refs deciding that nothing short of homicide is worthy of a whistle at the end of a game. Ohio State and Georgetown should NOT be playing anymore .
Posted: March 24, 2007 1:49 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Rule 4, Section 66.
Travel:
Art. 4. After coming to a stop and establishing the pivot foot:
a. The pivot foot may be lifted, but not returned to the playing court, before the ball is released on a pass or try for goal;

I'm pretty sure this covers it. Green obviously did lift the pivot foot but it did not come down again.

Thing is about this game the officiating does go both ways. I understand why Vandy fans would be upset (but as the above rule should suggest, it was the right call despite what the talking heads may say), but at the same time, I thought three of the last fouls in the game (two blocks on Green, over the back on Summers) were VERY questionable at best.
Sorry, definitely was not one of the most blatant no-calls in NCAA history, despite what the talking heads on TV may want you to think. I think a very good no-call by the officials.

First, as the first poster correctly notes, if you actually look at the NCAA Rules, specifically Rule 4, Section 66, Art. 4a, a player may lift his pivot foot when going for a shot or pass as long as he does not return it to the floor before the shot/pass is released. That was clearly the case with Green. I understand there was some new angle on a replay in super blown-up grainy mode that may have shown him very slightly raise his pivot foot before the shot. This would be a travel, but again the only way people spotted this was on super slow replay very magnified. If this type of analysis were given to every possession during a game, my guess is you'd get a LOT more traveling calls.

I think a good no-call and even if Green slightly lifted his pivot foot, impossible to tell at full speed.
Posted: March 24, 2007 5:28 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Georgetown wins....YES! I'm a fan and just happy they won. No offense to Vandy team/fans for I know we all love our teams. The good news for both teams is that college hoops are AWESOME and much more fun to watch than the pros. Great game!!!
Posted: March 24, 2007 8:57 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Everybody can watch the replay, slow motion it to a tee and see the technical travel. I, although being a Georgetown alumni, thought it was a travel too. But the fact of the matter is, Vanderbilt had plenty of opportunities to make that last second shot meaningless for Georgetown (i.e. a few turnovers late, missed free throws, lack of defensive rebounds). The games are 40 minutes long, and to focus on the last missed call as the reason for losing is absurd. I'm not saying it's not a travel, but there were plenty of other opportunities for Vandy to win the game.
Posted: March 24, 2007 8:59 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
How many times are charging fouls called during games. How about three or four consecutive ones against
Georgetown to tip the game in favor
of the SEC team? For a whole series
every foul under the Georgetown
basket was a charge and every one
under the other was a defensive foul.
A bit unusual no?
Posted: March 24, 2007 9:06 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Why hasn't anyone mentioned that GTown shouldn't have needed any last-minute heroics in the first place? Simple karma - the refs gave the lead to Vandy with a ridiculous call in the final 20 seconds that put them on the line to take the lead.

Vandy was given the lead and Green took it back.
Posted: March 24, 2007 9:11 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
The no call at the end was less bothersome than the no call of the blatant palming (and travel) by Jessie Sapp with two minutes to go.
Posted: March 24, 2007 9:14 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
We should also remember that on two previous possessions Green was called for fouls for less serious body contact than the Vandy players were applying in the post AND that on the offensive rebound where Patrick Ewing Junior was called for the foul that gave Vandy the lead he was actually pushed by one Vandy player into another and had cleanly rebounded the shot. (Hey if PACKER is arguing that a Big East team got shafted by a call then you KNOW a mistake was made.) That's 4-6 points Vandy should never have had.

So, odd calls and no calls tend to balance out.

A great shot to end a great game.
I can't believe that there's so much controversy over this. I could just as easily argue that Green was fouled on the shot. In every basketball game I've watched, there are a handful of questionable calls that go both ways. I think some questions Vandy has to answer are how it gave up a 13 point lead and why it didn't capitalize on Hibbert fouling out. The refs didn't win the game for the Hoyas. The Hoyas won it fair and square.
Posted: March 24, 2007 10:33 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Many questionable calls went against Georgetown players in the last few minutes of that game. I guess people have to find some call or non-call after a game to feel better about their team losing. Heck, I was ready to do that myself until Green sunk the final basket of the game. Whatever else is true about the game, one thing is certain, it is OVER and Georgetown is advancing to the Elite Eight.
Posted: March 24, 2007 10:34 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
For the idiot who tried to argue it wasn't walking (anonymous), he didn't just lift his pivot foot moron, he lifted his pivot foot and established a new one, and there is NO WAY that's not a walk. Give the CBS crew credit for having the balls to call it like it was. Look, the refs screwed up and missed it, and Vandy got jobbed. End of story. Let's just hope G'Town doesn't win the whole thing.
Posted: March 24, 2007 10:54 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Let's face it...the outcome of college basketball games is, and always has been, about 85% the players and 15% the officiating. Whether it's a block/charge, goaltend, hack, or whatever, the referees are more inconsistent and arbitrary than any other sport out there. And it makes sense why--5 or 6 giant guys thrashing around in 10 or 12 square feet. Unfortunately, it's the nature of the beast...
Posted: March 24, 2007 11:08 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Wow those of you quoting the rule book saying this wasnt a travel are either blind or stupid. He PIVOTED on his right foot.. Didnt have a shot then PIVOTED on his left foot.. THEN left the ground and took a shot. its clear as day to see this. The very definition of a travel..
Posted: March 24, 2007 11:10 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
And in the last 4 minutes of the game, all 7 of vanderbilt's points came on free throws. If you're going to argue that Vandy got shafted at least acknowledge that all the calls were going there way.

And Jeff didn't travel. If you're having to use slow motion and have it still be controversial, then it shouldn't have been called in game time at the end of a game. Great shot by Green. Great game by both teams
I was actually undecided as to whether Green travelled or not (the people who posted on earlier with the rules seem to know more about it than i do) but Jeff Green made an incredibly difficult shot with both Vandy players glued to his back. Green continues to be the single most underrated player in the country, probably because of his low key personality and the style of play that Georgetown prefers. Vandy played a great game and that was a great no call by the refs. Im sure many Vandy fans (elated though they might be) would feel their win cheapened by a ref call. Kudos to the Vandy coach for not making a big deal out of it and realizing that Green just made a great shot. Great game.
Posted: March 24, 2007 12:45 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Didn't that play remind anybody of Ronald Steele's buzzer beater to be Georgia? They both look remarkably similar and we all know what Both were great shots, but both traveled.

Also, for those who says Vandy should have capitalized before the final play, try telling the same thing to Oklahoma's coach, Bob Stoops, and see how he feels about the refs handing the game to Oregon.

The only reason why this controversy isn't as big as it could be is probably because everyone wanted Georgetown to win and nobody cares about Vandy. If you put Vandy in Gtown's place and Gtown in Vandy's place, don't you think this would be the headline on ESPN all day long?
Posted: March 24, 2007 1:27 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Many questionable calls went against Georgetown players in the last few minutes of that game. I guess people have to look for and focus on some call or non-call after a game ends to feel better about their team losing. Heck, I had just been complaining about a whole series of weak calls against the Hoyas up until Green sunk the final basket of the game. Whatever else is true about the game, one thing is certain, Vanderbilt blew a 13 point lead, this game is OVER, and Georgetown is advancing to the Elite Eight.
Posted: March 24, 2007 3:22 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Go to the message board at officiating.com for a detailed and instructive discussion of the play.
Posted: March 24, 2007 5:16 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Not a travel. Go watch the replay again. Here's the sequence of events:
1.He gets the ball at the top of the key. 2. He dribbles towards the basket and loses the ball with his back to the basket. 3. He regains control of the ball and immediately starts pivoting on his right foot. 4. He spins baseline, picks up his right (pivot) foot and jumps off his left foot to shoot, releasing the ball before his right foot comes back down. It may look like a travel, but it's not. He only had one pivot foot. He never once pivoted on his left foot from the time he got the ball.
Posted: March 24, 2007 6:04 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Vanderbilt never should have been up 1 anyway b/c the refs made a terrible call against G'town before that which put Vanderbilt on the foul line. Refs very well could have given the game to Vandy. Seems like this is not too much of a big deal the CBS crew makes it out to be. In 2003 when Ohio State beat Miami in the National Title football game, it was said Miami got shafted on a pass interference in OT, but actually Ohio State towards the end of the 4th quarter got shafted on a pass interference no-call that gave Miami a chance to tie the game-which they did. Same thing here. There have been blatant travels that never get called, and this was not a blatant travel if it was at all. With the exception of it being a last second shot to win a game, it looked like any other normal basket when a guy is double teamed down low. Traveling. Yeah right.
Posted: March 25, 2007 8:48 AM   by Anonymous PMan
"4. He spins baseline, picks up his right (pivot) foot and jumps off his left foot to shoot."

Watch the replay- he raises the right foot a couple inches and plants it again, like a stutter step, then lifts again and shoots of his left. There's the travel. Real close though.
Posted: March 26, 2007 2:51 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
I think it was a travel. Still, this is a non-issue if Green misses the shot. It was a phenomenal play by a great player. The travel call may have been obvious to lots of people who watched replays multiple times after the game, but in that moment, the refs didn't see it and didn't call it. Just like Greg Oden intentionally fouled a Xavier player and the refs didn't call it. Refs are human and they make mistakes. Players decide the games. If the kid from Xavier makes his free throw or they defend Lewis' three, Xavier would have won. If Jeff Green hadn't made the shot or if Vandy had sunk their last second heave Vandy would have won. The players decided those games. Blaming the refs is something losers do. I'm not excusing the bad call (which as Hoya fan, I am thankful for), but that is just as much a part of the game as any. Both Xavier and Vandy had oppportunities before and after that to overcome the bad call. They didn't that's why they aren't playing anymore. Go Hoyas!!!! Beat the Buckeyes!
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