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Time it Takes an Athlete to Figure Out He's One Ball Short: 7 Minutes

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by hearit

hearit's picture
In The News

Illinois and Oakland Men’s Basketball teams aren’t exactly improving any stereotype concerning athletes and aptitude: seven minutes had passed in the December 8 game between No. 16 Illinois, the team trailing Oakland (Michigan) 15-6 and Illinois missing 10 of 13 shots, before someone finally realized the teams were one ball short: missing the actual ball that teams should've been using.
Someone finally figured out the integral problem: the ball – specifically that a men's ball was missing from game play. Both basketball teams had mistakenly been using a women's-sized basketball in place of the right thing.
As to whom the smartest “someone” might’ve been -- or whom, exactly, receives credit for finally figuring out why shots were flying all over the place -- is still in question.
Illini Coach Weber insinuates the basketball mix-up and initial problem to be a direct link to the most recent game previously held at the Assembly Hall location – which then hosted the men’s Oakland v. Illinois game. He says Assembly Hall was the site of a women's basketball game on December 1 and that a ball might’ve been left behind. Despite validation of any official reason for the presence of the women’s ball, one thing is clear: someone – inclusive of any referee – seems not to have noticed that a women's ball still remained on-site, let alone mixed into the game.
The men’s basketball teams had already completed 7:22 minutes of the game while using a women’s sized basketball – a ball weighing in at two ounces lighter, and a full inch smaller in circumference, than a men’s basketball. Either Illinois forward Mike Tisdale or Oakland’s Travis Bader is credited for noting the ball mix-up – but as to exactly which player or team actually receives credit for noting the smaller ball, that part’s a bit hazy.
Illini Guard Demtri McCamery later described to the media that the women’s basketball, being mistakenly used for the first seven minutes of the men’s game, “felt like a NERF ball.”
Illinois eventually won the match-up, but the team didn’t truly pick up the pace until the final five minutes – eventually coming away with a 74-63 victory over Oakland.
Illini coach Bruce Weber claims: “Our kids [players] said something right away, but I’m like, ‘You guys are just missing shots, shut up and play,’ ” he told the media. It all sounds an awful lot like a poor cover for his team’s players not having figured out the problem early on in the game.
Then again, it’s hard to know -- truth can be stranger than fiction: Coach Weber followed up that claim, that his players knew something was wrong with the ball from the beginning, making a statement to media that he’d told his team's players: “There should be no excuses. They [Oakland players] scored with the basketball. It should be easier to score, to be honest. It’s [the women’s basketball] smaller. It should go in the hoop better.”
No one has ever claimed that the stereotype provided athletes is vastly different than that applied to coaches. Coach Weber’s statement should have players and fans seriously questioning his intimacy with the game: the smaller size and lighter weight of a women’s ball would have even the best men’s basketball players confused by well-aimed shots flying off of the rim.
The reason for why the women’s ball ended up at the men’s game is far less perplexing than anyone noticing the screw-up: even a ref, who didn’t check prior, should’ve felt the size and weight difference in simply handing off the ball. Just so you know, guys: a men’s basketball is 29.5” in circumference, a women’s ball 28.5”.
For basketball players, referees, and their coaches, the Baden diagram should make it clear: yes, size does make a difference.

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