Ty Corbin and the NBA Referees


April 21st, 2014 was a sad day. The day I no longer have use for a spreadsheet I have worked on over the past 3+ years.

I began keeping track of referees and their potential influence on the outcome of Jazz games following the Jazz/Suns game on March 14th, 2012. Utah lost the game at the US Airways Center 120-111. It was during the 4th quarter of this game where I noticed Mark Ayotte seemed to only make calls, whether they were fouls, out of bounds or any potential 50/50 call, that benefited Phoenix. Whether this was just a figment of my imaginiation or not it certainly seemed to impact the final score during the stretch run of this game.

This led me to think about the effect that the officials can have on the potential outcome of any given NBA game. There are advanced analytics that tell us from which exact spot on the floor a player should shoot from. Thanks to SportVU cameras we now know that Gordon Hayward runs around a lot on the floor, and we are trying to learn what impact that has on his performance each night. But I couldn't find much information on the fact that there are 3 additional people on the floor each night that have as much, or more power than any of the 10 players during a close game.

I was fortunate enough to exchange e-mails with a high ranking NBA team official and he mentioned some of the things that his team would be interested in finding out: which official is making the most foul calls, where on the floor they are calling them from, and which team are they making the most calls against. The idea is that they should be close to even during a game (depending on the team's style). Peroidcally throughout the year I would track such cases (you can find the recap from opening day against OKC here).

I decided to go back and begin with the games that that had occurred since Corbin took over the head coaching duties from legendary Jazz coach, Jerry Sloan. Many people are aware of "superstar calls", others also think that certain coaches have an advantage over others based on relationships with officials. It just seemed natural with a new head coach, and the departure of our star player to see what I could come up with.

The conclusion I came up with after all of this? The Jazz probably weren't good enough during the Ty Corbin era for the officials to impact many of the games.

For the most part you probably saw my tweets with each night's officiating crew, Ty's record with each official, and the FTA comparisons between each team (home and away). I thought it might be fun to take a look at some of the notable records and winning percentages the Jazz had during Ty Corbin's tenure as head coach with the NBA's referees:

Most Games Officiated:
Derrick Collins - 20
Leon Wood - 20
Mark Ayotte - 19
Rodney Mott - 18
Gary Zielinski, John Goble & Ron Garretson - 17

Best Winning Percentage (min. 10 games):
Marat Kogut - .750 (9-3)
Scott Twardoski - .700 (7-3)
Zach Zarba - .667 (10-5)
Leon Wood - .650 (13-7)
James Williams - .636 (7-4)

Worst Winning Percentage (min. 10 games):
Derek Richardson - .167 (2-10)
Kevin Cutler, Mike Callahan - .182 (2-9)
Bill Spooner, Derrick Stafford - .231 (3-10)
Pat Fraher - .286 (4-10)
Leroy Richardson - .300 (3-7)

Best Home Record (min. 5 games):
Monty McCutchen - 5-0 (1.000)
Dan Crawford, Scott Wall & James Williams - 5-1 (.833)
Tony Brown, Eric Dalen & David Guthrie - 4-1 (.800)
Mark Ayotte, Zach Zarba - 7-2 (.777)
Leon Wood - 12-4 (.750)

Worst Home Record (min. 5 games):
Kevin Cutler - 1-4 (.200)
Bill Spooner - 2-6 (.250)
Courtney Kirkland - 2-4 (.333)
Derek Richardson - 2-4 (.333)
Derrick Stafford - 2-4 (.333)
Eric Lewis - 2-4 (.333)

Best Road Record (min. 5 games):
Marat Kogut - 5-1 (.833)
Kevin Scott - 3-2 (.600)
Gary Zielinski, Joe Crawford & Scott Wall - 4-4 (.500)
Zach Zarba, Scott Twardoski - 3-3 (.500)

Worst Road Record (min. 5 games):
Mike Callahan, Tom Washington - 0-7 (.000)
Mark Lindsay - 0-6 (.000)
JT Orr, Kevin Fehr, Pat Fraher & Sean Corbin - 0-5 (.000)
James Capers - 1-8 (.111)
Kane Fitzgerald - 1-7 (.125)

Other Notable Records:

  • Leon Wood worked 20 Jazz games with Ty Corbin as head coach, 16 of those were played in Salt Lake City (the Jazz were 12-4 in those games).
  • Mark Ayotte (who was the inspriation for the research) did indeed turn out to be a bit of a homer, the Jazz were 7-2 in home games, and 3-7 in away games Ayotte worked. The home team also averaged nearly 4 more FTA per game.
  • Mark Lindsay (4-0 at home, 0-6 on the road) and Sean Corbin (2-0 at home, 0-5 on the road) were the only two officials with whom the Jazz were undefeated at home, and winless on the road.

    If anyone has any specific information they would like to see feel free to comment below and as time permits I'll see what I can come up with for you.

    Thanks again to @AllThatAmar and the entire crew @SLCDunk for putting up with my nerdery and helping get the information out there!

    Enjoy the Playoffs everyone!

    As always you can follow me on Twitter @bjcseven for more.

  • All comments are the opinion of the commenter and not necessarily that of SLC Dunk or SB Nation.