Dick Harmon: Jimmer Fredette's latest frontier — officiating
PROVO — So, what is it with Jimmer and whistles?
Is the challenge for MWC officials to manage a game with Fredette affecting how games are called?
With the increased Jimmer attention are we seeing heightened scrutiny, escalating defender physicality and swelling criticism of favoritism by opposing coaches mixed with Jimmer's own increased animation after no calls?
I don't like making drama over officiating. It is a tough and thankless job and generally it isn't the deciding factor. Attacking officials is generally an excuse by those who lose. I don't attack it here, but I do examine.
Are we seeing trends with Jimmer?
For Fredette, it's getting more and more physical, and he doesn't like it.
In the last few games, Fredette has broken an admired trait of not complaining to officials. That may bring a collective reaction from officiating crews as word spreads that he's drawing negative attention to them personally. They don't like it.
It is a huge challenge to call a game with a player like Fredette. He draws a lot of physical defensive attention from baseline to baseline. Multiple defenders come at him and his remarkable ability to move with the ball allows him to get past one guy, but another defender comes crashing toward him at full speed.
He is good at creating contact from an opponent while dribbling and shooting. There are plenty of calls that could go either way.
Officiating is a headache.
I thought Utah coach Jim Boylen framed it nicely on Saturday:
"He (Fredette) gets to the line on a couple of plays where I think they are hard plays to ref," he said. "He's a hard guy to officiate. There were two of the harder guys to officiate in the league on the floor tonight.
"Jiggy Watkins plays through contact as well as anybody. He gets bumped, he doesn't get knocked off his line, even (so) at times, I think he gets fouled. I think Jimmer is hard to referee because he's got guys on his hip a lot and he's so strong and he's able to elevate over people. It is a very difficult game to officiate. Very difficult."
At the end of the Utah game, official Mike Reed asked BYU coach Dave Rose to take Fredette out because of the physical play. Fredette's emotional reaction and the score made it necessary.
"Games are officiated differently," said Rose. "That's one of the keys to a great player is to adjust to how the game is called. I think Jimmer's done a great job of that. I think tonight, Utah did a terrific job of guarding him and Jimmer did a great job responding, making winning plays. But he (Reed) just wanted to make sure the game ended on a positive note."
Rose and Fredette expect more physical play. Some BYU fans see it as a mugging.
"Jimmer and I talk about that all the time," Rose said Monday. "What I think the difference is is that we're playing teams now for the second time. That in itself can cause a little more frustration in any sport at any level. You have to adjust to each individual referee crew that is going to call the game and then accept how it's being called and then adjust and play from there.
"He'll see a lot of players in a lot of situations throughout the league and maybe become a little more chippy."
Do officiating crews decide before a game how it will be called? Do officials react to a player's stardom? If a player becomes whiny, do officials tell themselves it's going to be hard for the guy to get a call or two until he knocks it off?
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