The “Crosstown Punchout” was followed by a “Crosstown Copout.” Quite a weekend in the Queen City.
On the day after their basketball teams lost all self-control and sullied the reputations of their universities in the annual “Crosstown Shootout” game, the schools came back 24 hours later with punishments that further diminished the two. They took one of the worst on-court episodes in recent history and basically brushed it off with soft suspensions and hollow words.
Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin won a lot of admirers with his tough, impassioned and seemingly high-minded rhetoric Saturday after the disgraceful behavior by his players in their late-game brawl with Xavier. Then Cronin and his bosses cravenly backed down, suspending three players for six games and a fourth for a single game.
Cincinnati’s Yancy Gates dropped an unsuspecting Kenny Frease with a sucker punch to the face, then punched another player, then tried like heck to go after several more but was restrained. He got only six games. If I were a Cincinnati alum, I wouldn’t want to see him wear the school uniform again. If I were a Cincinnati prosecutor, I’d consider filing assault charges.
Teammate Cheikh Mbodj, seen on videotape attempting to stomp on Frease as he was on the floor, also got six games. He should sit the rest of the season.
Octavius Ellis also was docked six games, and Ge’Lawn Guyn got one. No Bearcat will miss more than one Big East game.
Cronin told the Sporting News on Sunday that in order to return to the team, the players will have to issue public apologies and perform community service in addition to their games missed, but that’s insubstantial PR. The suspensions are what matter, and they’re pathetically light.
After looking across town and seeing Cincinnati caving, Xavier acted later Sunday afternoon with similar softness. The Musketeers’ brass announced that they will sit Dez Wells and Landen Amos for four games, Mark Lyons for two games and Tu Holloway for one.