This series will cover the WNBA’s 21st season with at least one story on the league weekly from the season’s May 13 opening to its closing on September 3 and through the 2017 playoffs
The WNBA deserves better officiating. Any expectance of seeing the three-person crews raise up their game as the playoffs begin next week is a pipe dream.
There are still some of us who easily remember the poor officiating job in last year’s post season, including the final game of the WNBA Finals, where a blown call unfortunately impacted the game’s final result.
The players and coaches, in fear of being fined, won’t comment on record, but there are plenty of fans who have expressed their frustration watching the officials’ poor performances.
“Ref, they are still fouling us and you’re not calling them,” one unnamed player loudly complained during a game.
This reporter, when not distracted by chatty reporters or the non-stop in-game noise, closely watches the consistently inconsistent ‘zebras.’ All season long, either in person or watching on television, it’s been one blown call after another:
A player falls down, and a player about two feet away is called for the foul.
A player clearly traveled but the defender was called for the foul. Soon after the ball was inbounds, an offensive foul was quickly called — we called it “a make-up call.”
A ball goes out of bounds, and the official calls it on the offensive team, but it was off the defense. A lengthy replay conference between the officials commenced before they correct the call — both Stevie Wonder and the late Ray Charles, along with the fans in the stands, saw it correctly when it happened.
Around a dozen calls on average are missed or botched, or just wrongly called during games. There hasn’t been a game this season that I’ve watched either in-person or on television where I can honestly say the game was remotely well-officiated.
The officials in the deciding moments of last season’s game five didn’t go to the monitor to re-check if a shot beat the shot clock or not — the shot didn’t and shouldn’t have counted. But this season the zebras have been in overboard mode, stopping play to check nearly every stinkin’ call. This has brought games to a momentum-killing halt.
Such over-reliance on technology is worse than not using it at all.
College referees have worked the games since the league’s first season when the WNBA referees used NBA referees. The pro game is not the same, and the college refs can’t handle it. Some of them are horrible in college as well, and then they slide their horribleness over to the WNBA each summer. The league is paying for such incompetence.
As a result, the pro players are the ultimate losers, with W fans coming in second.
Our simple solution — hire full time officials and assign them to work in the rechristened NBA G-League in the off season. The W players and their paying fans deserve better officiating.
Yes, she said it…
“I like it — the best two teams playing for the championship,” states Phoenix Coach Sandy Brondello on the post-season format, now in its second year. “Do I like the knockout rounds? Personally not. I don’t know what’s the best way — best of three, then the finals best of five.”
At press time it appears more than likely that Brondello’s Mercury will be in that one-and-done first round slot next week.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charles Hallman is the senior staff writer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. He can be reached at email@example.com