In what may be my first ever negative post, the refs in the WNBA need to improve for the betterment of the league
I pride myself on doing the best job I can. I am sure that the referees in the WNBA would say the same thing. There is a massive difference though. What I do really does not impact on the lives of professionals.
All season long, the officials in the WNBA have made calls to the best of their ability. I will say that in hope, no, with a level of confidence. A person I once counted a good friend was a referee in Australia and even if she did not like a team, she was always fair.
There are a couple of problems that I currently see in the WNBA at the moment when it comes to the refereeing of the game. One of these is the review process. At the moment, if a player gets hurt, the refs are looking at it. They have to blow the whistle, get the monitors turned around, put the headphones on and then review the play.
While this is good, it takes so much time and potentially loses any momentum either team is developing. In the recent Phoenix Mercury and Los Angeles Sparks game there were three reviews in the first half alone.
The WNBA needs to have a central system where there are officials ready and able to review the footage and make a judgement call on the play. This will save a heap of time and make the product which is the WNBA more appealing and watchable. The pauses where the referees review and then come together to talk about things are painful to watch.
My second problem with the referees is a basic one. If you call a foul, call it on the right player. In the first quarter of the same Playoff match-up between the Mercury and the Sparks, Candace Parker slapped the arm of a Mercury player in the act of shooting.
Unfortunately it was Nneka Ogwumike who got called for the foul. She was no where near the incident. This meant she picked up two fouls quickly and spent most of the quarter on the bench. If this had of been attributed to Parker, she would have had the two fouls and would be sitting.
History will tell us that Parker set the game up for the Sparks with points and nine rebounds in the first quarter. Who knows if Ogwumike would have had the same impact. We will never have the chance to find out.
Unfortunately, the referees were not able to get this basic fundamental of their profession right and it potentially impacted the Playoff fortunes of both franchises.
This league is the best in the world for pure basketball. There are still some issues that need to be fixed, player payments, arena availability for Playoffs being another. Unfortunately these are longer term resolutions but in the off-season the WNBA needs to improve the standards of the referees. The officials are a crucial part of the game who need to be at their best all season long.