Weekend Sweep by Devils and 'Cats of LA Schools Sets Up Monster Matchup
What was most (maybe the only thing) memorable about last night's Pac-10 slugfest between ASU and Southern Cal happened with about a minute left.
USC head coach Tim Floyd (the oddly gesticulating gent in the photo) took such umbrage with a pivotal call against his squad that he felt compelled to whirl like a dervish from his bench completely across the court and halfway down the sideline.
There, Floyd confronted the offending referee for what seemed like a minute or so, first drawing an obvious technical foul and then an ejection. But the hyped-up fella (a buddy compared him to Harrison Ford during much of The Fugitive) wouldn't leave the court until security guards urged him up the ramp and back to his dressing room, where he watched the rest of the game on TV.
Trouble for Floyd and his Trojans was, their team was only down by 6 points when this all went down. The tantrum did USC in for good, and the Sun Devils won going away.
The call was a weird one: USC's Daniel Hackett drove down the lane, threw up a shot in traffic and knocked over an ASU player all in one motion. Somehow, the pill bounced in.
One referee trailing the play called it a basket and a foul against the Devils, which could have cut the lead from 6 to just 3 points if Hackett converted the free throw. But a second ref immediately overruled the call, deeming Hackett guilty of an offensive foul.
That wiped the points off the board and gave ASU possession, a real game-turner. Actually, the way things wound up looked like the right call to these eyes, though it could (and did, in a sense) have gone either way.
Coach Floyd's attention was solely on the first ref, whom had seen it his way but quickly had backed down to his colleague.
The bizarre moment is bound for YouTube, though it's not there yet.
Which leads us to this -- the ASU-UA game this coming Sunday night is the most meaningful between the rival schools in memory.
At opening tipoff, ASU will either be tied for first place in the conference or one game behind. Arizona also could be just one game out of the lead.
The Wildcats haven't lost in a month (ASU nipped them in Tucson), and somehow have become one of the nation's hottest teams. The Devils are ranked 11th in the country, and pose problems for any opponent because of their relentlessly intense defense and an All-American player named James Harden.
Great storyline surrounding Arizona's unlikely interim head coach Russ Pennell -- a terrific guy we got to know well when he was an assistant to departed ASU coach Rob Evans:
Pennell got the gig only after Hall of Famer Lute Olson retired for health reasons on the cusp of the new season, and Olson's top assistant then decided that the "interim" role wasn't for him.
The Wildcats seemed done for after the ASU loss, but have completely turned around their season, culminating last Saturday morning with a thumping of top-dog UCLA.
We'll talk more about the upcoming match-up later in the week, so stay tuned.