Cincinnati-Xavier free-for-all: criminal players, clueless coaches, token penalties


Sports rivalries are, well, competitive. The closer the rivals the more intense the competition. USC-UCLA, Duke-Carolina, Georgia Tech-Georgia, Alabama-Auburn. The winner is said to get “bragging rights.”

The basketball rivalry between two schools that are only four miles apart, the universities of Cincinnati and Xavier, is hot. Called “the Crosstown Shootout,” it has been played 79 times since it started in 1928 between the two city schools. But maybe no more.

Saturday’s game ended in an ugly brawl when Xavier point guard and All-America, Tu Holloway, taunted the Cincinnati bench with nine seconds left and Xavier blowing out Cincinnati, 76-53. Cincinnati’s Yancy Gates sucker-punched XU center Kenny Frease in the face, just below the left eye. Frease went down and Cincinnati center Cheikh Mbodj then kicked Frease in the head. Then everyone from both teams joined in.

Holloway revealed his thuggish character as he explained himself at a post-game press conference:

“That’s what you’re going to see from Xavier and Cincinnati. We got disrespected a little bit before the game, guys calling us out. We’re a tougher team. We’re grown men over here. We got a whole bunch of gangstas in the locker room, not thugs but tough guys on the court. We went out there and zipped ’em up at the end of the game.”

UC coach Mick Cronin was quick to point a finger at the officials, saying they shared some of the blame for not calling technical fouls as the trash talking escalated during the game. Cronin apparently has no influence over his players’ lack of anything resembling sportsmanship. Later he seemed to accept that the ugliness reflected, ever so slightly, on him.

“I have never been this embarrassed in my entire career. I’m hoping President Williams doesn’t ask me to resign after that. It’s a complete embarrassment. Toughness is doing the right thing. You take your ass-whipping and go home. If my players don’t act the right way, they will never play another game at Cincinnati.”

Yea, right! Maybe “hardly ever.”

Several players were suspended for a game or more: Gates, the criminal here, got a six-game suspension, after which, barring intervention by higher authority, he’ll play many more games for Cincinnati.

Xavier coach Chris Mack took a more measured approach. Holloway, the self-proclaimed gangsta who started the melee, got a one-game suspension.

After the game Mack told the press,

“I’m not in a position to be a decision maker. [Hmmm, what authority does a head coach have at Xavier?] We’ll address the situation and see what our conference feels is necessary. The bigger thing is that our kids in this situation need to learn how to handle themselves and not let that happen again.”

One way to teach “kids in this situation” is to follow in the footsteps of Oregon Ducks football coach Chip Kelly. When his star player sucker-punched an opponent, just like Yancey Gates of Cincinnati did, after Kelly’s first game as head coach, Kelly dismissed him from the team, explaining how Oregon plays the game:

“The actions that our players take when they’re in the community and not on the football field or in the classroom, are just as important to us. How they behave as student-athletes here, it’s not just on the field. And if they cross that line, I’ve said all along there will be a punishment that will go along with that.”

Coaches Mack and Cronin aren’t teaching anything about character, except, perhaps, that it doesn’t matter at Xavier or at Cincinnati.



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2 Responses to “Cincinnati-Xavier free-for-all: criminal players, clueless coaches, token penalties”

  1. klownboy Says:

    From a guy who lived in Cincinnati for four years (1999-2003), seeing this saddens me. It even saddens me more to see how those young got off so light. I guess it is about wins and losses in the end…

    • Ethics Bob Says:

      I believe that
      “When the one great scorer comes to write against your name –
      He marks – not that you won or lost – but how you played the game”

      There’s still a chance–maybe–that the XU and UofC Presidents will see it that way. Fingers crossed!

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