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By Richard G. Kent
Updated: March 10, 2011
New York, NY—Teams usually don’t capture the fancy of the knowledgeable crowds at Madison Square Garden during the Big East Tournament unless they make it to at least the semis. Rutgers disproved this theory today in the World’s Most Famous Arena.
Yesterday they defeated a favored and hot Seton Hall team in overtime,76-70 and today they fell to a heavily favored and no. 17 St. John’s team, 65-63.
Well they didn’t exactly fall. The game was stolen by the referees. Plain and simple. And it was a great officiating crew led by Tim Higgins.
The Big East Commissioner admitted after the game and a review that at least two officiating mistakes were made. That is an understatement.
First the officials blew a clear foul on Mike Coburn driving to the basket with 7 seconds left. Then they missed a foul on Gil Biruta with 4.9 seconds left. Lastly,they let the game end with 1.7 seconds left after Justin Brownlee of the Johnnies went out of bounds with the ball. It should have been Rutgers ball but the officials left the court.
The gaffes should not put a damper on a great coaching job by first year head coach Mike Rice.
He led his team to victories over the likes of Miami,Villanova and Seton Hall and came close to leading them to an NIT bid.
Rice brings in many coveted recruits next year and still has Gil Biruta and Dane Miller coming back.
A year today his team will be looking at a postseason bid which not even the officials can take away from Rutgers.