When asked this morning if he was screaming at Reginald Delk in the YouTube video above (about 15 seconds in), a screen grab from Saturday’s game against the University of Louisville, University of Kentucky coach John Calipari said, “I don’t know. The game was so emotional.”
I’m going to take that as a “yes.”
Calipari needs to apologize for this, because it hits at the very core of sportsmanship. And if UK athletic director Mitch Barnhart can’t jog his basketball coach’s memory and come up with a proper statement of where the school stands on this sort of thing, then we’ll know where the school stands on this sort of thing.
Here is what it appears Calipari is saying — and he did not deny today that he was addressing Delk “[unintelligible] kick your ass after the game. You’re going for the wrong guy.”
(Sorry about the language, but it’s not mine, it’s Calipari’s). There’s no way of telling exactly what was said. Well, unless Calipari’s memory improves. And, even from the angle of it, there’s no way of telling who Calipari is addressing.
I have been willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. He did take Bledsoe out of the game immediately — and Bledsoe kept talking, even got up off the bench after sitting down to keep jawing at Delk. But if his coach was doing the same thing, is it any wonder?
Bottom line — if Calipari was addressing Delk, he needs to apologize. And the Southeastern Conference needs to think about whether a sanction, or warning, is in order for a coach voicing a physical threat to an opposing player.
It’s one thing for players to do this. Games get heated. Emotions get the better of you. But coaches should not be a part of this kind of trash talk.
I don’t want to blow this out of proportion. It’s not the end of the world, not a national scandal on the level of a Leach or Pitino.
But it is an embarrassment in its own kind of way, and should not be condoned.
Also today, Calipari said that Cousins should not have been ejected from the game and that he got kneed in the head.
I have no problem with his assertion that Cousins shouldn’t have been ejected. What else is he going to say? But the Swopshire knee complaints are ridiculous. When you jump on top of a guy, you enter at your own risk. Swopshire was in a prone position with a 6-10 guy closing in on him. His body motions were consistent with those of a player trying to secure the ball, midsection moved up, upper body moved down.
No foul was assessed for the knee, because Swopshire did not initiate the contact and it occurred during the course of going for the ball.
Cousins’ forearm to Swopshire came AFTER the whistle and not only was deliberate, but sustained. He bore down on Swopshire with all his weight — a Courier-Journal still photo confirms it — and for a brief moment cut off Swopshire’s air because his arm was across the neck.
To equate an incidental knee in the head — in contact Swopshire did not initiate — with a deliberate act that occurred after the play with intent to harm, is more of a reach than I’m willing to accept.
Swopshire, rightfully, received a technical for going after Cousins after the play, when a ref was restraining him.
But if Calipari believes that Cousins is justified in doing what he did because he took an incidental knee to the head, then he’s wrong.
The upshot of all this is that Cousins had better not make the same mistake again. He can’t react to incidental contact with deliberate force. He got the benefit of the doubt from the refs in the Louisville game. I don’t expect he should get it the rest of the season.
I want to be clear. Both teams came in with the same macho attitude on Saturday. Neither is more at fault for the way Saturday’s game was played.
But let’s call the plays what they were. And if Calipari was party to a threat against an opposing player — even in the heat of the moment — he needs to apologize and everybody needs to move on.
[NOTE: The YouTube video above apparently was posted by a UK fan. I only linked to it as it was the clearest example of the Calipari action in question. If you’re overly sensitive to seeing the other team’s highlights, or are a Cardinal fan trying to forget Saturday’s loss, please don’t watch further.]