Theo John’s top 5 fouls ‘committed’ vs. X

For someone who offers his services on here as an analytical thinker, I tend to whine about the refs on Twitter.

A lot.

Like way too much.

And while I usually bat over .500 with my complaints, and feel somewhat bad afterward for letting emotion get the better of me, I think I am 100% justified with my beef against the calls on Theo John against Xavier.

I don’t plan on doing this every game (or ever again) but I had to get the videos on here for proof and to restore my sanity. They were outrageous to the point of hilarity. So here are Theo’s 5 fouls from Saturday, ranked in order of acceptability.

No. 5 – 3rd foul

When you are judging a bang bang call in transition, it can be really easy to give the offensive player the benefit of the doubt.

While John does a great job of maintaining a vertical body, he does jump into the attacker and doesn’t keep his arms straight up, so it’s a pretty easy call against him.

No. 4 – 4th foul

The NCAA made an emphasis on preventing arm hooks and holds on rebounding opportunities to cut back on shoulder and elbow injuries that result from these type of plays. Now watch this video.

That looks like a pretty clear case of a hook and hold. And seeing as the foul is against John, that would be on him, correct?

John does make contact, which is what I think was the original foul call, but it is Xavier’s Haskins that holds on to the hook and pulls their arms down. If this was reviewed at that moment, I have no idea how the refs would have judged it, since I don’t think they can change the foul call to Haskins, but that’s a textbook hook and hold. I think this was tougher to spot in real time, hence why it’s only 4th on these rankings.

No. 3 – 5th foul

John remains pretty vertical here, though he is jumping sideways, which can be penalized from time to time depending on the ref’s perspective. But watch Naji’s arm as he’s going up.

John not only maintains the verticality requirement, he gets popped in the face with Naji’s elbow. So this isn’t just a play-on, it should be an offensive foul. But because John is made of steel, he barely budges and is penalized for it.

No. 2 – 1st Foul

Theo John set a lot of illegal screens his freshman year and even up through the end of the non-conference season. But he’s been terrific at maintaining legality when setting screens on offense.

This, to the shock of everyone including the announcers, was somehow called an illegal screen.

Xavier’s player backs up without looking and runs completely into John, who doesn’t extend and elbow or arm. He’s simply so strong the contact overpowers the defender.

But wait, there’s more. The Castlin not only runs into John, he also steps on his foot while doing so, a clear example of how he was invading John’s space, not vice versa.


I think this was a bit of a makeup call after Howard got the benefit of the doubt against Hankins right before this on a screen. I don’t think either should be fouls, but calling them both, only to swallow the whistles the rest of the half is probably the worst case scenario.

No. 1 – 2nd Foul

This is No. 1 not just for the egregiousness of the missed call, but that it came 2 minutes after the initial phantom call and relegated John to the bench the rest of the half.

But don’t let the context fool you, this was an egregious miss.

It is true that John does foul Jones on the arm during the shot. But that’s probably due to the fact that he just took an elbow in the throat 1 move before that.

I’m not sure if there is anything John could have done in this game to stay out of foul trouble. He had a target on his back and anything remotely questionable was called against him. It happens, particularly to players with his strength. If I were Wojo, I send the film to the Big East and tell John, “Don’t change a thing.”

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