Creighton and the Curse of the Missing Midcourt Line

After some quick calculation I would estimate that I’ve watched, officiated or played in approximately 10,000 basketball games in my lifetime. I can’t remember ever seeing one that was decided on a backcourt violation. But then again 9,999 of those games weren’t played on a court made to resemble the leaf-strewn floor of an Oregon forest. Most courts have a clear dividing line at half court. The slave-to-fashion University of Oregon has more of a suggestion of one, and it ultimately decided the CBI championship game for Creighton. With under 20 seconds to go in a tie game the Jays’ Antoine Young was burning clock near half court to set up what was likely Creighton’s final play. With 17 seconds left he unknowingly dribbled over the barely perceptible half-court line, turning the ball over to the Ducks who promptly hit the game winner. Phil Knight has done a remarkably good job turning his alma mater into the Knights of New and Next at Nike. The footwear company’s founder has turned the University of Oregon into a catwalk for the next big thing in athletic apparel. This works well in football where the Ducks, garish as they may be, have created an event around their game-by-game uniform revolutions. But basketball uniforms aren’t as interesting visually. There’s only so much you can do with a tank top and shorts. Lacking the real estate to turn Oregon basketball into the same sort of fashion plate on the court, the university turned the court itself into the attraction. Kilkenny Floor — yes, it has its own name — at the new Matthew Knight Arena features a Print Shop-style border of trees around the entire court. Combine that with the giant midcourt logo and all the verbiage required to acknowledge the donors who made it happen and there just isn’t much room for a real half court line. Instead you have two tiny white outlines where a normally solid line would be. Knowing Nike, this Oregon-exclusive color likely has a name. I’m guessing something along the lines of “Ghost Vapor.” “Ghost Vapor” may have cost Creighton a game and a championship. Generally, I get a kick out of Oregon’s antics. People had complained about this court quirk previously and I typically thought those people were overly litigious. Turns out they were right. And I’m guessing the Ducks will have a proper mid-court line by the time next season starts.

posted at 03:46 pm
on Tuesday, April 05th, 2011

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