On The Charge

Submitted by Brian on April 8th, 2013 at 10:25 AM


When you're at a game and then spend an hour and a half walking around aimlessly afterwards because the closest bar to the Georgia Dome is in Alabama and exiting that place is like finding your way through an MC Escher painting, and then you laugh incessantly until they tell you there is no more beer to be had and you go to bed at like 4 AM and spend the next day writing stuff and watching Otto the Orange die over and over again, you can miss some developments in the narrative of said game.

Does that paragraph count as a one-sentence paragraph? I mean technically, sure. But come on. This paragraph is important philosophically because we are talking about block/charge calls. Some things are technically blocks, but come on.

Anyway. After that I caught up on what the rest of the world was saying. I was surprised to find out the play above generated a ton of muttering while I was wandering around Atlanta wondering if the Georgia Dome was in fact part of the city or connected to it by a wormhole I could no longer access. You gotta talk about something, I guess. A block/charge call is as good as anything because nobody in the world knows what a block or charge is anymore, even the refs hopping on one leg 40 times before pointing. Personally, the brain went CHARGE and wasn't even worried about which way the call would go. The ref making the call did not bother with the Cirque De Soleil routine. His body language read "bro you just charged" so matter-of-factly that I fell in love with whoever that guy was and wished we had ejected Ed Hightower into a hyperbolic orbit around the sun.

My favorite view is in fact the Otto-slaying GIF, which is in real time and repeats incessantly. At that speed you can only see Triche's "chest"—in this case a euphemism—plow head on into Morgan's. Even complaints about "sliding under" seem ridiculous since Triche is still on the way up when contact is made.


But I've seen enough basketball to know that completely random things are decided to be charges and other completely random things are decided to be blocks.

I don't know man. I feel that you don't have much of a complaint when you plow a guy in the dead center of his chest. Feet trembling or not, someone square to you outside the circle is going to get that call almost every time. He got there first, and it's not like he was invisible before you jumped. The only situations in which the jumping complaint seems legit to me are those like that dubious charge McGary took against VCU, where the defender eats contact just as the shooter lands. Any "charge" where they also award the basket should be a block.

Suggestions for making this less of an unsolvable debate:

  1. Charges can only be committed by a shooter who still has the ball. If it's gone, any contact he receives before landing is a block. This may not be entirely fair but it is relatively easy. (Those rare charges that come after a guy has passed the ball still have to be called, I think.)
  2. The main point of determination is how the contact occurs. Forget the feet. Is the defender getting nailed directly in the chest? If yes, charge. If it's glancing, block.
  3. Whether the defender is moving should only be relevant if it changes the impact from head on to glancing. At the moment of contact, is the defender square and getting plowed in the chest? If yes, charge, if no, no charge. Determining motionlessness is basically impossible. If the combined vector of motion is the offensive player's plus or minus 10%, it's a charge.
  4. Outside the circle, obviously.

Right now the charge is some combination of technicality and feel that results in all charge/block calls being debatable because lawyers. It would be nice to move to a world where you could show someone this picture:


has ball, "chest" going into chest of squared up, vertical defender, no debate

And they would have to be like "right, well I'm obviously a twit, carry on." We don't live in that world. We live in one where every charge call gets put under a microscope that anyone can see however they'd like to.

In any case, live that was CHARGE to everyone and it was only once each frame got the Zapruder treatment that anyone other than 'Cuse fans thought otherwise. Therefore Jordan Morgan is cool. The end.



April 8th, 2013 at 10:36 AM ^

whatever complainers, it was a charge.  if you want to complain about a call from this weekend, it obviously should be the jump ball call at the end of the witchita state/louisville game.  that was a HORRIBLE call with flashing red lights.  and it prevented WSU from getting a chance to send the game into overtime. 


April 8th, 2013 at 10:37 AM ^

Gottlieb made some asanine comment about how the refs "gave Michigan" the game because of that call. Maybe that's the argument he made when he was caught stealing his roommates credit card and dropping $900 bucks on it... not to mention all the central American call-ins to Bill King touting the "conspiracy" of the refs to prevent a Big East championship game.


April 8th, 2013 at 10:39 AM ^

A lot of Michigan detractors I know made a large fuss about Morgan's feet shuffling, but as was pointed out very well in this article, feet shuffling shouldn't negate a charge call.  The fact remains that Morgan was set, there first, and standing vertical.  It's not as if Morgan slid under the guy when he was pulling up to shoot or anything silly like that.

I had to see it on replay because everything just went too fast and I was in a bar and things were slightly blurry, but after watching the replay I was very confident that was the correct call.

Ed: Additionally, I've noticed a lot of people saying the refs shouldn't make "game-changing" calls like that with so little time left on the clock, but if it is a charge, it sould be called a charge.  A charge is (or should be called) the same thing in the first minute of the game as it is the last IMO.

R Kelly

April 8th, 2013 at 10:58 AM ^

In re: your second point, I totally agree.  I would also add that in situations like that there is no way for the refs to avoid changing the game.  In my opinion a game changing no-call has the potential to be just as meaningful as a game changing call.  Syracuse fans would have been just upset had there been no call at all and Michigan escaped with the rebound.


April 8th, 2013 at 12:52 PM ^

Totally agree. The players determine the outcome, not the refs. Every player knows that if you barrel into a defender and he's squared up, there's a chance you'll get called for a charge. Even in the postgame, the Syracuse player stated that he probably should have pulled up for a jumper and not driven because of the possibility of a charge. Blaming the refs for a loss ignores the previous 39 minutes of the game. There are several points in every game which help determine the outcome.


April 8th, 2013 at 11:01 AM ^

should swallow the whistle and not decide the outcome. By not making a call, if there is a clear violation, the officials are indeed affecting the outcome. They are letting the offending team have an advantage. If it was a violation or foul in the first minute of play, it still is during the last minute of play.


April 8th, 2013 at 10:43 AM ^

This is why I don't like it when people say "get rid of the charge."  Defenders should be able to get in the way of a guy who's dribbling at the basket.  If they're too late, fine, they're too late, call a block.  I've even toyed with the idea of allowing refs to call a flagrant if they dangerously undercut a player in the air.  (There are obvious downsides to the idea, I know.)  But neither should the rule be written to essentially allow an automatic basket once a player has started driving to the rim.


April 8th, 2013 at 11:00 AM ^

I've been really critical about how the charge gets called, particularly when the help defender slides over, but I was ok with this call for a few reasons.

1. Morgan's actually contesting the shot. He's got his arms up, he's playing defense, he's doing more than just trying to slide over and fall down. That his arms are up also means that he was in position early enough to  contest. (It also meant that his arms caught Trishe as he went down). In short, he wasn't just undercutting a driving player.

2. There was significant contact and it was clearly initiated by the offensive player, and, as Brian mentioned, was square in the chest. This was no flop.

3. Trishe mentioned he saw him and had options (said he should have jumpstopped). My main critique of the leniency of the charge call is that the offensive player is often penalized for contact that he has no possibility to avoid.

And I think given the way it's called in college, charge was probably the right call (though who knows what  a charge is).


April 8th, 2013 at 10:45 AM ^

...brought Morgan off his feet and sideways a little I think, making it appear that he might be sliding sideways and airborne.  When it happened live I thought charge immediately, and Triche seems to admit it was a bad idea in the article.  I could see the refs swallowing their wistle there, in which case Caris had the rebound nicely secured...  I guess all fans have to blame their sorrows on something.


Indiana Blue

April 8th, 2013 at 10:48 AM ^

made up this entire controversy.  The refs were busily working hard to help Syracuse the last 3 minutes of that game ... Trey gets called for a foul on a drive and he NEVER even touched the player & then Hardaway gets hammered (both arms come down on his head and shoulders) on a layup and NO CALL.

I hate that ESPN and the east coast media tried to make something of this, but in post game Syracuse's coach and players didn't support that it was an issue.  Triche even said that he saw Morgan and that he should have stopped and taken a jump shot.  Bottom line ... tonight we make FT's at the end and there will be joy in Michigan'ville!

Go Blue!


April 8th, 2013 at 1:18 PM ^

Hadn't seen that view. The clip of the play on the broadcast, taken from the back, definitely showed Hardaway holding Christmas off (that's funny to write) with his left arm as he went up and Christmas getting ball initially. Obviously, here, a lot of contact on the follow through. On the replay, I thought the call was ok. This makes it look like he got hit on the face and certainly the jersy after Christmas hit ball. Wish I could see a clip of the footage from the opposite angle again.



April 8th, 2013 at 1:39 PM ^

And he is right. Tim Hardaway initiated the contact and played selfishly. Every time he has been under the hoop on a 2 on 1, his teammates have feed him the ball for an easy basket.

This time he had the opportunity to slide the ball to McGary for an easy two. He refused to do so. That play cost us two points. You shouldn't expect to get bailed out by a call, make the play that will certainly net you two points.


Backing up the sentiment that the officiating was not spot on, Spike's first make from three point land should a resulted in a foul because he was hit on the shot. There were some other chippy plays. Syracuse's zone was solved for the most part and that is why Michigan won. No one should blame the outcome of a 40 minute game on one call.


April 8th, 2013 at 4:32 PM ^

The idea that he should or shouldn't have passed it off has nothing to do with what the ref should call. There is no "pass for the easy basket or you can get hacked" rule.  It's not getting bailed out if you're drawing the foul.

You want to argue he cleared out first then the argument is they should have called an offensive foul.  Good luck with that one. But even if you get some ball if you hit a guy in the face and on the shoulder while grabibng his jersey, that's a foul.  And it needs to be called.


April 8th, 2013 at 2:37 PM ^

"The refs were busily working hard to help Syracuse the last three minutes of that game."

Fans of the losing team will alway gripe about the calls, sometimes even with justification.   Perhaps fans of the winning team can just be happy they won, particularly when the close call went their way at the end.

For example, the 4th foul on MCW, with 1:40 to go, was a bad call, plain and simple.  That gave the ball back to Michigan, nursing a 4-point lead at the time.  It also made MCW vulnerable, and he had his 5th foul 20 seconds later.  When Triche went out too, Syracuse was down to an inexperienced (redshirt) freshman handling the ball on the last possession.  

Overall, foul calls were 19 on Syracuse and 11 on Michigan.  It seems the refs generally let them play, and what they did call does not seem heavily biased against Michigan.

Enjoy the victory and hope for another one tonight!



April 8th, 2013 at 10:51 AM ^

...wearing a Michigan Alumni t-shirt in clear violation of my comany's dress code (I don't care, I'm the senior person in this office and RHIP, yo). Immediately, I was accosted by a co-worker whom I was not aware is a Syracuse fan. "BS charge call!" etc. You know the drill. 

Right, dude. If you're going to whine about that call, tell me about the "clean block" on THJR and the two times McGary was smashed in the nose with nary a flagrant foul review (and in the case of the second instance, no foul assessed). Crying about a foul call is a loser's game. In the end: Scoreboard.


April 8th, 2013 at 11:09 AM ^

@ MGoShoe - One of my most profound regrets today is that I have but one upvote to give your post.  I was about to log in to say *exactly* what you said.  If they call Triche for the obvious "clean block" foul on THJ, he's not even on the floor to also commit the charge against Morgan, unless we missed out on the memo where THJ's upper body is considered part of the court a la the refs.   And let's not even get into McGary's face being hacked twice.  Let's also not get me started on the "controversial" foul at midcourt on Carter-Williams - the announcers at the time all said that the defender gets assessed with the foul 90% of the time.... in other words, the thing that should usually happen in that situation happened.    And... speaking of memos, it might be time to pull rank and get your co-worker to attach all the cover sheets to all his TPS reports.


April 8th, 2013 at 11:16 AM ^

If you're referring to the blocked shot with about 2:30 left when THJ had McGary with him on a 2 on 1, I'm almost positive that was either Keita or Christmas, not Triche.

The thing that really annoyed me was all the contact they were allowing on the shooter after the ball was gone. Albrecht's 3, Burke got hammered after shooting a tear drop, i think Stauskas got fouled on a 3. You can't just let defenders just hit shooters after the ball is released.


April 8th, 2013 at 11:21 AM ^

You are correct - I didn't have a good picture for reference at the time I made my earlier post.  Nonetheless, that just means Triche is still on the floor and he still commits a charge.  And, yeah you also reminded me of several other missed fouls on Syracuse - the most notorious one being the made 3-pointer by Albrecht where he totally fell down because of an errant gust of wind and totally not because he was pushed by a Syracuse player.


April 8th, 2013 at 10:51 AM ^

Next time Brian, check with a native for after game places to go.  There are at least a dozen bars, a park, a concert hall, and mass transit to countless more easy walking from the Dome.  Just ask.  It's the south - we're here and happy to help.  :^)


April 8th, 2013 at 10:57 AM ^

I was watching ESPN Sunday morning and Bruce Pearl broke it down pretty well, I thought. While it seemed he wanted the college rules of block/chage scenarios to be modified to the NBA's, he maintained that it was a charge given the current set of rules.


April 8th, 2013 at 10:59 AM ^

Michigan was lucky to get that call there. Whether or not it is a charge on replay and what not are only sort of the point because the refs, that are not always so accurate.

I think a good deal of the complaining stems from the "under the basket" replay that they kept showing on the TV--the only one I saw--which did not show Morgan's feet. Morgan's body was still sliding, after it seemed his feet had stopped. From that angle, it looked like a bad call.

But like I said, fortune smiled on Michigan and the refs saw it their way. We've all seen that call go the other way. Especially given the game situation. No use denying it.


April 8th, 2013 at 11:08 AM ^

Your feet do not have to be set to take a charge.  Yes, that's usually a determining factor, but it's not a rule. Legal guarding position is all it takes.  Obviously we're biased around these parts, but I thought he laid claim to the area before the defender and took it in the chest.  I suppose I could see it going the other way but I think 9 times out of 10 the ref makes a charge call there.


April 8th, 2013 at 11:02 AM ^

I actually love the charge.  The Defense gets to play too.

Yes, it could use some more consistency in the way it's called.  Let's face it, if you are a Ref, it's fun to call a charge.  The crowd gasps, the ball is turned over, momentum is changed, you get to make exaggerated body motions like you are calling the runner out at the plate in the World Series.  it's one of the most exciting, impactful calls you can make as a Ref, along with the And-One as the ball bounces around the rim and then falls in.

But none of this means it is an illegitimate call to make in basketball when the player on offense is not playing under control.

Long live the charge.


Other Andrew

April 8th, 2013 at 11:02 AM ^

They used to focus on whether someone "beat the guy to the spot." In this case there is no question using that criteria. Did we stop using that criteria because of some other technicalities? (Obviously beating someone to the spot by beating them about the face with your elbow would never have counted.)


April 8th, 2013 at 11:04 AM ^

If they want to complain about a call, I would pick the one on Carter-Williams where Hardaway gives him the chicken wing but it's called a block.  Whatever though, it's water under the bridge and Syracuse had their opportunities at the end.  One call doesn't make the game and if the shoe was on the other foot, I would begrudgingly admit that.


April 8th, 2013 at 11:06 AM ^

That was a marginal call, I thought Carter-Williams exaggerated the contact though. He was really lucky to avoid a technical there, though, with his breakdancing move after he didn't get the call. That would have been an automatic T in the NBA for showing up the ref.


April 8th, 2013 at 11:06 AM ^

Other support that this was a charge... the definitive call from the ref (already pointed out), and the fact that none of the Syracuse players seemed to object.  They all just got up and turned back towards the other end of the court, looking bummed.

Naked Bootlegger

April 8th, 2013 at 11:07 AM ^

This was also no flop.  Significant contact was made.   Flopping with minimal contact to draw a charge stinks, and this play does not fall under this category.   I've seen some refs have the balls to make a no-call under such circumstances (flopping), but the subjectivity of minimal versus sufficient contact is admittedly difficult.   As an aside, I broke a rib once taking a charge, and the ref decided to make a no-call.   That sucked.  I think sufficient contact was made to break my rib.


April 8th, 2013 at 11:10 AM ^

people referencing the obvious missed calls like Burke's phantom foul, the hacking of Hardaway, but no one mentions on one of the inbounds plays Michigan threw it out of bounds Burke was almost hugged by the defender and on another his arm was held.  No calls.


For a national semi-final I thought the final two minutes of that game were poorly officiated, but they got the charge call 100% correct.


April 8th, 2013 at 11:26 AM ^

It's the nerd in me, but I love rule posts, and still have fond memories of the discussions of the incomplete pass and roughing the kicker from the football season.

The irony is that Morgan's shuffling and that little hop are him DEFENDING, which is what people theoretically want to see. 


April 8th, 2013 at 11:34 AM ^

That THIS call is getting so much attention when (a) IT WASN'T EVEN SYRACUSE'S FINAL POSSESSION! They were only down 3 and could have still tied it for crissake! and (b) That jump ball call in the Wichita State game was FAR more controversial. Plus the jump ball rule is stupid and should be fixed (jump ball...therefore...GIVE THE BALL TO THE OTHER TEAM!!! Makes perfect sense.)

It's not fair to assess a block/charge in slow mo, because that's not how it happens. In slow motion, well, it's a block, he was still kind of moving I guess. At live speed, where the real world lies, it's a charge 9 times out of 10. The Cuse player was reckless, Morgan was still kind of moving but was square and compared to the Cuse player's speed he looked pretty darn stationary. As Brian says, he got hit square in the chest on his way up. Charge.

Many in ESPN have been humping the "Michigan won only because of a charge call" line, and it's starting to piss me off. Because why can't you also say that Louisville won only on a bs jump ball call? I just listened to Digger Phelps basicallly say Louisville will win because Michigan should have lost but got a lucky charge call against Syracuse. Logic, he has none.

Whatever man. Beat the Cardinals.


April 8th, 2013 at 11:43 AM ^

Morgan got there. His feet were in place before Triche left the ground. He was in a legal guarding position. He was vertical. The black text says "charge." The naked eye says "charge." Even Syracuse's bench's reaction was, "damnit," not "OMG OUTRAGE."

But even IF, arguendo, they HAD called it a block, Triche would have had to make 2 free throws (a 50/50 proposition for a shooter of his ilk), AND they would have had to stop Michigan on a last possession, AND they would have had to win on the overtime.

And ignoring ALL of that, Syracuse STILL had a final possession with a chance to tie. So to claim the refs "decided this one" or "gave the game to Michigan" is ridiculous.


April 8th, 2013 at 11:48 AM ^

Upon seeing the slowed down replay, I think it might have been a block. However, that's irrelevant. The refs don't have access to slowed down replay in situations like these. In real time, the play looked like a charge. Both Nantz and Kellogg thought it was a charge after the initial call and first two replays. Only after the third replay did they waver and claim to be unsure. Dick Vitale still thinks it was a charge. Obviously that's only a few opinions, but it's not like those guys have a Michigan-bias. The ref who made the call never hesitated and seemed pretty confident in the call. Fact is, the game is played on the court and not on a replay monitor. The majority of non-Michigan, non-Syracuse affiliated people I've seen/heard seem to think the played looked like a charge initially, in real time.

My opinion on basketball officiating, and I said the same thing after the Michigan/Indiana game, is that if you don't want one or two calls to change the outcome of a game then don't put yourself in that situation. Syracuse didn't lose this game because the block/charge didn't go their way. They lost it because they couldn't shoot, couldn't defend our bench players, had no answer for McGary in the first half, and their best player was completely taken out of the game by our best player. One call did not change the outcome of this game. Syracuse playing like garbage for 36 minutes did though.

Sextus Empiricus

April 8th, 2013 at 12:08 PM ^

It's not like he made the shot. Michigan has the rebound. To call a block would create just as much hoopla and be even more controversial as free throws would ensue.

The call puts it back on the players to make a play. That is the right call.


April 8th, 2013 at 12:09 PM ^

Exactly.  If we had (gulp) lost the game, many of us - probably including myself in the interests of full disclosure - would've griped about the no-call on THJ getting hacked, the 42426 grabs of Trey Burke, Albrecht getting nailed with no-call after his made 3, etc... and we would've been wrong to do so, even *if* all of our hypothetical ref complaints were justified..   We would've lost because we didn't make plays when we had to and Syracuse did.  In the real version of events, we won because we made enough plays and Syracuse lost because they did not.  Fin.


April 8th, 2013 at 12:14 PM ^

Dear Syracuse,

If your whole season comes down to a single block/charge call, maybe do things to make sure your entire season doesn't come down to a single block/charge call.

Such things include, but are not limited to:

  1. Watching tape.
  2. Not running your mouth.
  3. Actually exploiting the alleged mismatches you have at every position.
  4. Get your alleged world beating 6-6 PG to pass the ball to his own team more than the opposing team.
  5. Derp less.


April 8th, 2013 at 12:16 PM ^

"In the end, the question of whether this was the right call was effectively answered by the most partisan crowd possible: the Syracuse faithful in attendance at the Georgia Dome. The crowd rained boos on the initial call, but after watching the replay, slid into resigned acceptance. Syracuse heads home, while Michigan survives and advances. In the end, there's nothing more to say."

Amen. Go Blue!

Picktown GoBlue

April 8th, 2013 at 12:18 PM ^

and Bilas are arguing for making the college rules more like the pros on this morning's Mike and Mike??  Ugh; sorry but I find the NBA almost unwatchable.  Brian>>>Greenberg


April 8th, 2013 at 12:26 PM ^

To be fair, I think the vast majority of Syracuse fans have stated that it was a tough call but regardless of whether it was a block or charge, it wasn't the deciding factor in the game.  I think we realize that Michigan was the better team on Saturday.


April 8th, 2013 at 12:56 PM ^

I think Beilein will do precisely the opposite of what Brian suggests re: matching up Spike with Henderson.

When Henderson is on the bench, you use Spike to help beat the press.  One of Spike's biggest assets is his ability to beat the press.  L'ville will try to press him with Siva and Smith and they will be unsuccessful (usually/probably/hopefully).

When Henderson is in the game, you make them pick their poison guarding Stauskas, Hardaway, or Burke.  Yeah, we tried the Stauskas-Hulls things, but this kid is not Hulls.

Putting Spike out there at the same time as Henderson doesn't make sense because it voids a mismatch opportunity for us and minimizes the relevance of one of Spike's most valuable skills.