It was the call heard around the state.
With his team down three points to rival BYU with two minutes left in the game Wednesday night in Provo, Utah Stat’s Tai Wesley was whistled for an intentional foul for swinging his elbows.
In addition to being Wesley’s fifth foul, the Cougars were awarded two foul shots and the ball.
The call, which can be seen on youtube.com, undoubtedly changed the course of the game for both teams down the stretch.
The call is a new point of emphasis the NCAA has for its officials this season.
Under points of emphasis on Page 18 of the NCAA 2010-2011 rulebook, it reads: “Last year, there were increases in excessive swinging of the elbows. This action should not be ignored because of the associated danger to another player. Contact resulting from an illegally thrown elbow can cause serious injury.”
It continues, “Consequently, excessive swinging of the elbow(s) is a point of emphasis. When the arm and elbow, with the shoulder as a base (pivot) are swung with a speed that exceeds the rest of the body as it rotates on the hips or on the pivot foot, that action is considered to be excessive. Contact, after such an action, shall not be ignored but shall be called a flagrant foul. When the player’s arm(s) and elbow(s) are swung excessively but without contact, a violation has been committed. When the arms and elbows and the rest of the body move with the same or similarly generated speed and contact occurs, that contact is not considered to be excessive. However, the contact is illegal, and a foul shall be assessed.”
After the game Wesley said he was told his elbows flared out, bringing into play the rule in question.
“They said I have to keep my elbows in,” said a despondent Wesley. “I thought I did. I thought I tucked them.”
Whether or not the call was correct depends which team you are cheering for.
To their credit, nobody on the Utah State team or coaching staff believed the call determined the outcome of the game.
“When that play happens with Tai, we have the ball and we’re down three,” Utah State coach Stew Morrill said. “He is trying to protect the ball and the play is called. I would have liked to have seen what would have happened from there. (I’m) not saying we would have won, or anything else, (I) would have just liked to have that opportunity.”