The rivalry between Cincinnati and Xavier has always been about tough nosed basketball. This week that rivalry took an ugly turn, as the two teams will now be remembered for one of the ugliest brawls in recent NCAA history.
Throughout the game, #8 Xavier thoroughly unleashed a beat down on the under-manned and overpowered Cincinnati team. Xavier dominated the boards with put-back dunks and underneath dishes. Cinci looked embarrassed and did what many immature players do when embarrassed, lashed out.
With just 9.4 seconds left in the game and Xavier up 76 to 53, Cincinnati’s Gates cheap-shotted Xavier’s Frease with a punch to the head. Then showing just how classy they are, Cinci’s Mbodj kicked Xavier’s Frease in the head, while he was on the ground trying to get up. This led to a full-on brawl.
Although Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin predictably had harsh words for his team, he had the nerve to say the officials didn’t act quickly enough to stop the action. Yes, Cronin is probably entirely right. If a fight breaks out the chances are it’s been building throughout the game with trash talking. If officials move swiftly with techs when the jawing starts, it usually won’t escalate. The officials definitely dropped the ball, but Cronin bringing this up when a coach should be focusing on how his team is throwing punches is hilarious in the most tragic way.
Unfortunately, this pass-the-buck mentality is systemic these days. The 4 suspensions for Cinci and 4 for Xavier are not nearly harsh enough. If Cinci and the NCAA want to send a message that fighting isn’t allowed. Don’t allow it. These marginal penalties for massive violations only encourage more of the same. Harsh words are fun to throw around, but apparently when it comes to actions everyone from the NCAA to Cinci’s AD prefer a lighter, kinder, gentler approach. How cute.
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