Starting next month, the National Basketball League of Canada will be flying in two officials from out of province to work St. John’s Edge games, rather than rely on a completely local three-person officiating crew.
That news came from Mike Falloon, the NBL Canada director of officiating, on Wednesday less than 24 hours after Edge star Carl English was severely critical of the officiating in a 111-103 loss to the Windsor Express at Mile One Centre.
English picked up a second technical foul with 6:25 left in the fourth quarter Tuesday, and was subsequently ejected from the game.
Afterwards, an angry English said it was the first time he was ejected from a game after playing European pro basketball for 15 years.
It was the sixth technical English has picked up this season.
“The officiating here has been horrendous,” he said of the five NBL Canada games at Mile One. “If you can’t ref at this pace, you have to tell this league that you can’t ref at this pace.
“I don’t want to be on the record and calling people out, but if you’re not competent enough to ref a game like this, then say you can’t take the job.”
As expected, English was fined Wednesday by the league. NBL Canada deputy commissioner Audley Stephenson would not say how hard English was hit in the wallet.
However, English was not suspended and was in the Edge lineup Wednesday night when St. John's rebounded for a 105-103 win over Windsor. The league also rescinded his sixth technical foul, the one that got him tossed Tuesday night.
“Discussions about flying officials in to St. John’s started early in the season from a combine camp. But obviously, there was a cost related to that. Since then, there’s been some discussions in the league office, and owners have now confirmed that going forward we will do our best to fly officials in to St. John’s.”
NBL Canada director of officiating Mike Falloon
Although the timing is, at best, curious, Falloon confirmed to The Telegram morning that the decision to bring in two refs — to work with a local official — beginning in February has nothing to do with English’s comments.
“We do fly officials from the Montreal area and Ontario to the east coast, for games in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and P.E.I.,” he said.
“Discussions about flying officials in to St. John’s started early in the season from a combine camp. But obviously, there was a cost related to that.
“Since then, there’s been some discussions in the league office, and owners have now confirmed that going forward we will do our best to fly officials in to St. John’s. I’m actually now looking at making some changes to some assignments for February.
“Definitely, we’re looking at that,” Falloon said.
Falloon was in St. John’s prior to the season to look at officials working an intercollegiate tournament at Memorial University, from which he was able to identify four officials for Edge games.
Falloon said he felt, at the time, that to help local refs get used to the NBL Canada’s style of play and rules changes, it would be better to bring in some experienced officials.
But, of course, there was a cost to doing that business.
“We went with what we had, but given the speed of the game, and some of the stuff I’m seeing, going forward, for the good of the league and the game, it’s something we need to do,” he said of the change, while also pointing out it’s common to see officials from the Montreal area work games in Ontario, and Ontario refs work games in the Maritimes.
A local three-person crew including Fred Wakeham, Scott Critch and Michael Duff worked Wednesday night's game at Mile One. Wakeham, Ryan Langdon and Craig Parsons were the officials Tuesday night.