Slow burn: Bogut’s big problem with officials
SYDNEY Kings marquee man Andrew Bogut says he couldn't blame fans for walking out at halftime if NBL officials continued to slow the game down with repeated foul calls.
Bogut was fuming with the referees after Sydney's 98-91 loss to Adelaide at the pre-season Blitz in Ballarat on Saturday night.
The Kings were poor defensively as they fell to a fast-paced 36ers, who went on to win the Loggins-Bruton Cup.
Bogut acknowledged Sydney's performance was substandard but he was equally frustrated with the officials' high foul count. He finished the game on the bench following an unsportsmanlike foul, while guard Jerome Randle joined him with a technical foul.
Bogut said he had struggled with the transition to the NBL's interpretations after 13 seasons in the NBA.
"I was prepared for this because I was told by so many people that it would be an adjustment, that would be the politically correct term to use," Bogut said.
"But to call 54 fouls, if I'm a fan coming to watch this, I'll leave at half-time.
"The games only go for three hours. Some of them were fouls but I honestly don't know.
"It is frustrating but not just because we lost. Even if we won I'd be saying exactly the same thing. The game just gets bogged down and it is horrible.
"It is just shit basketball."
For perspective, Adelaide has drawn the most fouls of any NBL team in the past five seasons.
The 36ers have tallied 837 fouls in their favour - 165 more than their rivals.
This is largely due to Adelaide coach Joe Wright's playing style with encourages his players to attack the rim.
It is also important to note that the NBL are working hard behind the scenes to be proactive in the official space. Former NBA referee and Director of Officials Ronnie Nunn was invited to last week's pre-season Blitz to pass on his knowledge.
Nunn, who served 19 seasons in the NBA, provided the referees with valuable insight about how to officiate big men like Bogut.
Interestingly, the NBL had its lowest average foul count in five seasons last year.
NBL Head of Referees Scott Butler understands Bogut's grievances and said the officials are happy to work with the former NBA champion.
Butler approached Kings GM of Basketball Jeff Van Groningen after the Adelaide match on Saturday to discuss the officiating. He pointed out a play when Bogut fouled 36ers guard Nathan Sobey with an elbow to the throat.
Butler said this would have been an ejection if they had access to the instant replay system during the season. He has also spoken to Sydney's coaching staff about the adjustments they'll have to make for the international FIBA rules.
"I told Jeff, showed him the footage and said this is something you need to pass onto your team," Butler said. "That contact is not only illegal but it is a bad look for the game.
"Jeff understood the point I was making. I get that happens in the heat of the battle but we are trying to find ways to keep everyone in the game.
"It is a guide and a criteria we've taken those things from the NBA.
"For example, things like freedom of movement. We are trying to make sure we clean up the game and that allows the offence to run and not be impeded by illegal defence.
"But if it is legal defence, we want to try and balance it."
Butler stressed pre-season was the perfect time to "iron the kinks out" before the season proper.
"Just like the clubs, I've got to move people into the program and they've got to cut their teeth somewhere," he said. "I'd rather them do that in a pre-season game than a regular season game."