BLACKSBURG – North Carolina State coach Mark Gottfried said Virginia Tech’s free-throw tip-in that tied the game Saturday with two seconds left shouldn’t have counted because Jarell Eddie, who tipped in Erick Green’s miss, lined up at the top of the key and came toward the lane before the ball hit the rim, violating the rules for free-throw rebounders.
During Monday’s Atlantic Coast Conference coaches’ teleconference, I asked Gottfried, whose team went on to beat the Hokies 90-86 in overtime Saturday, what he saw when he watched replays of the game-tying tip-in.
“The guy that got the rebound started at the top of the key. The rule is that that player, if you’re not on the lane, you cannot leave that plane on the top of the key until the ball hits the rim,” Gottfried said. “They obviously did and in my opinion that basket should have been waved off. Unfortunately it wasn’t.”
After hitting the first free throw to make it a two-point game, Green intentionally missed the second, hitting off the right side of the rim. Eddie, who lined up near the 3-point line on the right side of the court, came rushing around and in and tipped the miss into the basket to tie the game.
Gottfried said as he reviewed the play on film, he didn’t see anything his team could have done to defend it better.
“I think the rule is in place for the very reason that if a player starts at the top of the key, you really don’t have any opportunity to block him out,” Gottfried said. “The best you can be is standing beside him. I think that’s why the rule is what it is.”
I asked Gottfried if he submitted the play to the Atlantic Coast Conference league office to be reviewed.
“I think the league office is aware of that,” Gottfried said. “At that point, it’s out of my hands.”
Here’s what I found in the NCAA rule book for free throws. Under Rule 8, section 1, article 4 it states: “A maximum of six players (four opponents of the free-thrower and two teammates of the free-thrower) shall be permitted on the lane. All other players shall be behind the free-throw line extended and behind the three-point field-goal line.”
And this. Under Rule 8, section 1, article 2 it states: “Players not in a legal marked lane space shall remain behind the free- throw line extended and behind the three-point field-goal line until the ball strikes the ring, flange or backboard, or until the free throw ends.”
Highlights from the game show Eddie crossing across the 3-point line as Green releases his shot.