The Shootaround usually covers a plethora of subjects from across college basketball. Unfortunately, only one topic has dominated Xavier related talk in the last two days. In case your web access and television were mistakenly cancelled and Time Warner just now fixed it, here's what the internet has to say about the Crosstown Shootout.
- The other side of this story comes courtesy of Down the Drive. Matt and I don't always agree but this line "The circumstances which led to Yancy Gates punching of Kenny Frease are understandable, even somewhat relateable. But circumstances, not matter how profound, can never excuse the actions of a person. Ever. Certain things are always wrong, in sport, in life, in society," is an excellent summation of things. That sentiment extends to anyone who threw a punch in that fight.
- Bomani Jones also tackled the fight in his most recent column. He takes aim mostly at the XU players involved, but writes this gem of a line in re: Cronin's posturing "If that wasn't enough, for Cronin – the man who gave Lance Stephenson a scholarship – to spin into mentor mode and remind us his players are "here to get an education" is to insult our collective intelligence. They, like Born Ready, are there to play basketball for their coach. When, to a man, their reaction is the same, no amount of clichéd grandstanding or promises of punishment and control could deflect attention from Cronin's gross negligence."
- This column from Andy Katz shows a better picture of Cronin in full spin mode. Cronin first insists that Gates reaction was simply because Kenny head-butted him first... three years ago. After that, Cronin blames Xavier's players and the officials for not curtailing the trash talking. Saint Mick, in his haste, seems to forget the actions of Sean Kilpatrick. By this article, a day later, Cronin has reached the point of saying that Cheikh Mbodj didn't stomp a defenseless Frease but that, if he did, whether he made contact or not is "irrelevant."
- Eamonn Brennan is a favorite of mine, and he didn't fail to weigh in. Brennan condemned the toothless UC punishments "perhaps no punishment would fully repair the damage the fight caused. But six games? Six games? It doesn't get anywhere close," but he also took aim at the guards from NY "What isn't forgivable are Holloway's and Lyons' actions before and during the fight." His best quote? "The use of the word "gangster" is easily misinterpreted, and Holloway should never have said it, but anyone with a passing familiarity with the way young people talk could see Holloway was using the word colloquially." At least someone gets it.
- The Bleacher Report also though the UC suspensions were weak, saying "That’s a ridiculously weak punishment, and the statement from Whit Babcock, the athletic director at Cincinnati, is a joke." Jeff Goodman didn't address the UC punishments, but thought Xavier's were mostly in line. Goodman raised the very pertinent point that no Xavier player threw the kind of punches that Yancy Gates did. Pat Forde disagreed, thinking both teams were too soft and saying, "everyone agreed that Holloway was a prime instigator with his mouth, talking trash to the Cincinnati bench late in a blowout Xavier victory."
- Finally, Dick Weiss of the New York Daily News loses the plot altogether by suggesting that the Shootout be suspended for a year so the players can "can enroll in a crash course in civility." Seriously.
My thoughts go something like this.
1. Tu Holloway didn't throw a punch, but his mouth started all of this. I understand wanting to talk after the game, I understand wanting to let them know who runs the town. I've been there. You just can't do it though. If you really must say something, tell the media afterward. The temptaion to run your mouth to a bench during a game cannot ever be indulged. It always leads to trouble.
2. Dezmine Wells is very lucky he didn't land a solid punch. Right now Yancy Gates looks like the villan, and rightfully so. However, if some of the haymakers Wells was throwing when the fight reached the baseline had connected, he would be in deep trouble. Four games is more than fair for what he was trying to do.
3. Mark Lyons was very close to being a hero. Had he been content with simply cooling off Gates, Lyons wouldn't be suspended right now. He wasn't though.
4. Mick Cronin is a brilliant manipulator. Cronin's postgame comments are all anyone seems to remember. He has also blamed everyone but his team and himself for the fracas. His insistence that Kilpatrick's comments had nothing to do with the fight are, frankly, stupid.
5. Very few national media members understand the vernacular of the young college basketball player. That fact has become painfully clear to anyone who does understand it.
6. Fighting is never, ever, ever the answer. It's been suggested that we here at Banners don't think this was a big deal. Let me say in the strongest of language that a fight is never the way to end a basketball game. I love the attitude that Holloway and Lyons display 99% of the time, but there is a time to win with class. When that didn't happen on Saturday, a disgrace ensued. No one has ever won fair lady by coldcocking an unsuspecting player or by verbally abusing a team that knows it has been beaten. Sometimes, it's best to just shake hands, salute the crowd, and move on. Neither team did that on Saturday, and everyone is the worse for it.