I sure picked a good night not to watch the KU game.
Between having the nephew around, C having volleyball practice, and the early start time, I decided to record the KU-K-State game, follow the score, and watch it later if needed.
For most of the night that seemed like a good decision. After a slow start, the Jayhawks waxed Kansas State. We had just put the nephew to bed, L was wrapping up her night, and I looked forward to fast forwarding through the recording to watch the good parts.
Then my Twitter and text feeds went nuts.
I’ve watched a bunch of the video that came out of the brawl. Like most my reaction has changed a bit as I’ve seen more video. I think the fairest way to break this down is to measure the major participants’ actions on a 1-to–10 Dickish scale. One is the equivalent to “Come on, man.” Christian Laettner stepping on a Kentucky player is a 7. Ten is Ron Artest going into the stands in Detroit. Let’s get to it.
We join the action with the ball in Silvio De Sousa’s hands as the final seconds tick off from a big KU win over their in-state rivals. Kansas State’s DaJuan Gordon pressures De Sousa, reaches in to steal the ball, and races up court. De Sousa chases Gordon down and blocks his shot to seemingly end the game. De Sousa then steps directly to Gordon, who is lying on the ground attempting to keep his soul from leaving his body, and begins yelling at him. Let’s pause here.
In general I don’t have a problem with defenders playing out the clock. Not sure Gordon needs to be pressuring the ball and going for steals in that situation, though. If De Sousa had turned his back, as Tristan Enaruna did earlier this year, or De Sousa made a lazy pass, that’s fair game. But as Silvio was clearly trying to protect the ball and run out the clock, I give Gordon a Dickish score of 2 because, what the fuck, dude?
As for Silvio, he was fine until he stepped to Gordon and ran his mouth. If he had just walked away after his block, celebrated with his teammates, waved his arms to the crowd, or pointed at the scoreboard, his biggest concern would have been being arrested for murdering Gordon. Seriously, if nothing else happens, Gordon is going to be reminded of how Silvio absolutely destroyed him after he tried to get away with something. Up to now, Dickish score for Silvio is 0.
But the stepping and yelling was totally unnecessary in any context. It was way worse at the end of a beat down of an in-state rival. Worse still when done in front of the K-State bench. Silvio’s Dickish score raises to 5.
Now things get really fun. One K-State player on the court and two from their bench run directly at Silvio. The KU players who were on the court and Devon Dotson, who was in the handshake line on the sideline, race in. Things seemed like they might stall out at a lot of “HEY (EXPLETIVE)!” back and forth, with some gentle shoving. Silvio and Antonio Gordon were doing some solid slapping at each other until Gordon shoved Silvio, sending him off balance when he hit a chair. Silvio then lost his mind, James Love came flying in, David McCormack came in swinging, and soon Silvio was holding a chair over his head, ready to bash somebody. McCormack and Marcus Garrett were headed toward Love until KU assistant Jeremy Case literally flew in, cross body blocked Love, and knocked him backwards. I don’t know if Case’s intent was to injure or separate, but it did create enough distance so people along the baseline could start forcing the teams apart. It was also kind of insane. Case is in his 30s and did a flying, cross-body block in the midst of a fight. Respect!
As ugly as it was, it could have been way worse.
Let’s get caught up on our Dickish scores.
Silvio goes up to a 6 for engaging with Antonio Gordon.
Antonio Gordon gets a 7 for being the first to lose his mind and the shove that lit the fuse.
Silvio goes up to a 7 for re-engaging.
Love gets an 8 for coming in, in street clothes, and making things way worse than they already were.
McCormack gets an 8 for taking several huge swings at Love.
Garrett gets a 5 for getting in the midst of the fray with a look on his face like he wanted to fight rather than make peace. (None of the video I’ve seen shows him swinging. He would jump to an 8 if he did swing.)
Silvio goes to a 9 for picking up a chair, even though Jerrance Howard grabbed him and kept him from throwing/wielding it on Love.
In summary, a lot of straight stupidity.
Oh, and let’s give the refs a Dickish score of 10 for deciding they had to follow conference rules – which are according to Fran Fraschilla in place for gambling purposes – and brought the teams back onto the court to play the final second of the game. On a night when a lot of bad decisions were made, this might have been the worst. Fucking idiots.
My initial reaction was that Silvio should be suspended for the year. The early video and pictures made it seem like this was 100% on him. Remove his actions from the brawl and it never kicks off. The image of him holding a chair over his head was jarring and disgusting, and regardless of who did what in between, will remain the lasting image of the event.
But after seeing different angles, it’s clear Antonio Gordon and James Love took what Silvio started to another level, and David McCormack took dangerous actions and was lucky none of his punches landed.
I’d say Silvio deserves to be suspended 5–6 games. McCormack, Gordon, and Love deserve 3–4. Garrett and anyone else who threw a punch would go in the 2–4 game bucket. If I were the Big 12 and/or Bill Self and Bruce Weber, I would ensure their suspensions are in effect when the teams meet again in Manhattan next month. That is going to be an incredibly intense environment. It would be best for everyone if the four prime participants are not in Bramlage Coliseum that night. But, since that game is to be played on Feb 29, I would imagine most if not all suspensions will be served by then.
I did flip ESPN+ on to watch the coaches’ press conferences. I was surprised that Bruce Weber said he took some blame for not insisting his players back off in the closing moments. I also found his tone a little odd. He didn’t seem super affected by what had happened. I don’t know if that was because, at that point, he thought most of the blame laid with De Sousa and KU and he trying not to gloat, or something else. He even closed his comments with “Go Chiefs!” which made me think he wasn’t super agitated about things.
Bill Self, on the other hand, was as upset and angry as I’ve seen him. It was clear he was trying very hard to measure his words and to not say too much. Where Weber seemed, at worst, aloof, Self seemed genuinely disturbed. And, again, this could be because he had only seen the ESPN game footage which makes Silvio look the worst.
There have been plenty of rumors about Self’s future this season. The NCAA could, eventually, put an end to his college coaching career. Some have speculated he’ll beat them to the punch and take the San Antonio Spurs job if/when Greg Popovich retires. I’ve generally discounted these rumors as I think Self and his attorneys will find a way to keep him from getting a Show Cause ruling that would result in an NCAA suspension, and I don’t see the Spurs job as attractive as it was a few years back. But, man, that look in his face last night had me considering that he might say, “Fuck it, I don’t need this,” and taking the NBA money. I still doubt that will happen, but I’m entertaining the possibility for the first time.
As for Silvio, every game he comes in and can’t do anything right, I text a few of my friends something along the lines of, “We’re going on probation for this kid?” Last night I updated that to “We’re going on probation for this kid AND he’s starting the worst brawl we’ve had in 60 years?” That’s a flippant overreaction. I know the guy has had a rough time of it as people around him have ruined his chance for a decent college career. But that’s no excuse to lose your mind like he did last night.
In the end, I think everyone should be thankful that most basketball players can’t fight. It didn’t seem like any punches really connected. I think the scene was too chaotic to really square anyone up, which is another blessing. There were no injuries, none of the spectators caught up in the melee seemed to get hurt. Now we get to wait and see what the Big 12 wants to do about this.
- This is clearly a step beyond “Come on, man,” because of the use of “fuck” and because it is stated as a question. ↩