League Suspends Duke-Florida State Game Officials

By Mark Schlabach
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 7, 2006

The ACC suspended three game officials yesterday for making an incorrect call in the second half of No. 2 Duke's 97-96 overtime victory over Florida State on Saturday at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C. Edward Corbett, Raymond Natili and Mike Eades were suspended from working their next game, ACC men's basketball officials coordinator John Clougherty said in a statement released by the conference.

With about 9 1/2 minutes to play in the second half, Florida State forward Alexander Johnson fouled Duke's Shelden Williams as he drove to the basket. Williams fell, and Johnson was assessed an intentional foul, his fourth personal foul. Television replays showed Williams then jumped up and charged with his right shoulder and forearm lowered into Johnson, who backed away. The players were each given a technical foul, resulting in Johnson's disqualification for five fouls.

In the brief statement, Clougherty said Johnson's technical foul "should not have been assessed. Because of this incorrect assessment and handling of the dead ball technical foul situation, the officials that worked the contest will each be suspended for their next game."

The technical foul was Williams's fourth foul, but he played the rest of the game, making the winning free throws with 3.3 seconds left in overtime. The senior all-American finished with 27 points and 13 rebounds. Duke made 31 of 43 foul-shot attempts in the game; Florida State made 10 of 11.

When asked for his reaction during a teleconference with reporters yesterday, Florida State Coach Leonard Hamilton said, "I think I will let the ACC's action speak for itself."

The Seminoles (13-6, 4-5) are contending for an at-large spot in the NCAA tournament, and a victory over the Blue Devils would have greatly helped their standing.

There was questionable officiating in the Blue Devils' games last week. In the final seconds of Duke's 83-81 victory at Boston College last Wednesday night, the officials working that game -- Gary Maxwell, Reggie Greenwood and Duke Edsall -- were criticized for not assessing a foul to Williams when he blocked Tyrese Rice's attempted layup with about seven seconds left. The Blue Devils attempted 37 free throws in that game; the Eagles shot 13.

Some ACC coaches have long suggested the Blue Devils often get the benefit of doubt from officials and always seem to get the critical calls. Duke, which tonight plays North Carolina at Smith Center in Chapel Hill, is 21-1 overall and 9-0 in the ACC, two games ahead of N.C. State in the conference standings.

"I wondered if Duke would start getting all the calls once they started contending for a number one seed in the NCAA tournament," said one ACC coach, who requested anonymity for fear of discipline from the league.

Another ACC coach said the league's actions against the officials might change the way Duke's games are officiated.

"Everybody left who plays Duke is going to get a fair chance now because it's never been under more scrutiny," the ACC coach said.

Vassallo Honored Again

Virginia Tech forward A.D. Vassallo was named ACC rookie of the week for the second week in a row. Vassallo, from Puerto Rico, scored 13 points in the Hokies' win over Georgia Tech and 14 in a loss to Boston College. He is averaging 18.7 points the last three games. . . . Virginia, which tonight plays Maryland at Comcast Center, has lost seven of the past nine games in the series and 11 of 12 when playing the Terrapins on the road. . . . Terps forward Nik Caner-Medley, who suffered from flu-like symptoms over the weekend, is expected to play tonight.

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