Taking stock of Pitt and Vanderbilt and more mail (cont.)
I normally find your analysis to be spot on and often learn from your commentating, but I am seething that you put your foot squarely in your mouth following the UK-UL game. Not once did you mention [Louisville guard Jared] Swopshire kneed [DeMarcus] Cousins in the head during the wrestling for the ball. You took enough time up talking about Cousins getting booted from the game but in your rush to bad mouth him, you missed the knee to Cousins' head. What a shame you dropped the ball with the audience you had. Please consider an apology for missing this, the unfair criticism of Cousins and the officials. Be a stand-up guy.
It's a reflection of today's saturated media environment that this topic already seems tired, even though the play only happened four days ago. So let me expand on the comment I made on CBS at halftime of the Kentucky-Louisville game asserting my belief that Cousins should have been thrown out of the game.
First, let's understand the rule that was in play. Because it was a dead ball situation, the only way Cousins could have been ejected would have been for the officials to determine his forearm to be a "combative act," which would have warranted not just an ejection but also an automatic one-game suspension. If Cousins had made the same or even lesser contact with his elbow during a basketball play -- say, while grabbing a rebound and pivoting -- he would have automatically been called for a flagrant foul, which means an ejection but no suspension.
My understanding is that when the officials went to the monitor (as they are required to do), they did not see the same replays that the viewers at home saw. From the angle of the replay they looked at, the refs determined that Cousins' forearm deserved an unsporting technical but did not rise to the level of a combative act. My hunch is that given the high-profile nature of the game, the zebras were reluctant to administer such a harsh penalty against a critical player in the opening minutes.
Now reasonable minds (and even unreasonable minds) can differ, but when I see that replay, it is quite obvious to me that Cousins intentionally and overtly thrust his elbow into Swopshire's face -- as close as you can get to punching a guy without making a fist. That is a combative act any way you cut it. I stand by my initial assessment that he should have gotten tossed, and frankly I don't even think it was close.
For a point of reference, I'll direct you to the elbow that Gonzaga freshman forward Elias Harris threw at Wake Forest center Chas McFarland last month. The video is here and the elbow occurs at the 1:13 mark. Because this happened during a basketball sequence, it was an easy call for the refs to give Harris a flagrant, but that aside it was no worse than what Cousins did to Swopshire.
As for the oft-cited contact made between Swopshire's knee and Cousins' head, Aaron's argument does not hold up for two reasons. In the first place, the contact took place during a scramble for the ball, and to my eyes it looked inadvertent. But -- and this is the important part -- if Aaron thinks it was an intentional act, then he is arguing that both Swopshire and Cousins should have gotten tossed. He seems to be conceding that Cousins' elbow was intentional but justified because it was thrown in retaliation -- in other words, it was a combative act.
I'm sure it will not surprise you all to hear that I got lots of angry e-mail and tweets from Kentucky fans who took exception to what Tim Brando and I said about the play at halftime. That is fine, but really, isn't it silly to accuse someone of having a bias against UK just because he disagrees with your (clearly unbiased) assessment? A few days after Bob Knight lashed out at John Calipari, I said on CBS that Knight had his facts wrong and would do well to own up to his own bad behavior before criticizing someone else's. Where was my anti-Kentucky bias then?
Keep those e-mails and tweets coming, Hoopheads, and I'll dip into the Mailbag again next week.