ATLANTA — Folks, it was one Hess of a mess.
Even in this bizarre season of ACC basketball, no one could have guessed that the league tournament in Philips Arena would begin with officials Jamie Luckie, Mike Eades and Bernard Clinton putting their shoes in their mouths.
And yet when mostly empty Philips Arena opened for action Thursday Maryland 82, Wake Forest 60 in the noon first-round game the officiating trio came out with KH taped to their shoes in an obvious show of support for fellow ref Karl Hess.
Hess has been a subject of much debate since ejecting former N.C. State players Chris Corchiani and Tom Gugliotta from their courtside seats during the Wolfpacks loss in Raleigh to Florida State on Feb. 18.
Earlier this week, it was learned that Hess would not be included in the ACC rotation for the first time in years.
After State stopped Boston College, 78-57, in Thursdays second game, Pack coach Mark Gottfried said he couldnt remember such a display from officials.
But hey, I dont have a dog in that fight, Gottfried said. Im worried about Virginia and nothing else. As far as Im concerned its not an issue.
States C.J. Leslie said he wasnt aware of the KH movement. Scott Wood was aware of what happened, but declined comment.
Thats long gone as far for us, Pack senior C.J. Williams said. Its not anything we need to get involved with. We just need to play basketball and not worry about anything else.
The best lines, of course, popped up internet chat room sites:
Is there a candlelight vigil planned as well? unreal man.
Just when you thought this fiasco was fizzling......THIS comes along. Wow. This is akin to Everette (sic) Withers giving Butch Davis the game ball...
All of the Wolfpack coaches should put white tape on their shoes with Corch's and Gug's jersey numbers.
any chance the K and H stand for Krzyzewski and Huckleberry?
There were no KH reminders on the shoes of the crew Les Jones, Brian Dorsey and Sean Hull for the Pack-BC game.
The ACC quickly issued a statement from officials supervisor John Clougherty that offered no real insight into the show of support for Hess:
Karl Hess waned to make sure that he did not take away from the ACC Tournament, its teams and the players; therefore, he made the decision not to participate this year. The officials, as a group, have agreed to respect Karls decision and will eliminate any further distraction from the Tournament.
Otherwise, league officials and game officials would not elaborate.
In the long and short run, what happened Thursday probably will be quickly forgotten by most fans.
Hess put on a grandstanding, needless performance when he ejected Gugliotta and Corchiani in the first place. What Luckie, Eades and Clinton did Thursday is more proof that some officials put more importance on their show than should be the case.
But thats the history of ACC basketball, too. The building was embarrassingly short on fans Thursday. But there was no shortage of postseason passion among those who attended and those who participated.