Crosstown Shootout 2011: Overwhelmed By PassionPosted by Gerald Smith on December 10th, 2011
Gerald Smith is an RTC correspondent. He filed this column from today’s Crosstown Shootout game between Cincinnati and Xavier.
We want athletics to be our battleground: My team versus your team, my color better than yours. Local foes — the enemy you know best — often extract the most passion. The one game of the year that secures bragging rights. It’s definitely more than just a game for the players, coaches and fans. Xavier’s 76-53 victory against Cincinnati in today’s Crosstown Shootout, like most deep-seated rivalries, brought out the best and the worst of everyone involved. Yet somehow we’re all supposed to act outraged when the passion becomes overwhelming.
Dezmine Wells got overwhelmed. He saw Ge’Lawn Guyn put his hands on Tu Holloway. Wells, in his first Crosstown Shootout, snapped and shoved Guyn. The frustrated Bearcats — and their especially-animated coach Mick Cronin — snapped. Xavier snapped back. The whole arena of fans snapped. For close to a minute of real time, shades of the Malice in the Palace were exhibited in a corner of the Cintas Center with pushes, punches, haymakers, stomps, shoves and general mayhem involved. Order was finally restored short of a complete chaos, and with 9.6 seconds left, the refs called the game over. The pressure had been building all game. The Xavier home crowd was especially livid; they knew what was said about Tu Holloway by Cincinnati’s Sean Kilpatrick. Student’s chanted “Tu’s your daddy!” when Kilpatrick and others took free throws.
At the end of the first half, the teams met at half court with just a smidge of bumping. The refs took a look at the tape and decided to warn the coaches of the players who were mouthing. The mouthing didn’t stop: Musketeer Mark Lyons and Kilpatrick mouthed at each other off-and-on through the latter half. Posing and three-goggles were busted out.
The better team had control of the game. Using Kenny Frease‘s inside presence (13 points on 6-12 FG, 13 rebounds), Xavier kept Cincinnati off-balance inside. The Bearcats were outrebounded by four, allowed 11 offensive rebounds despite having more size, and allowed 36 Musketeer points in the paint. Kilpatrick scored most of his 11 points in the second half but was mostly relegated to putting up contested jumpers. XU’s Lyons (19 points on 6-11 FG, 3-5 3FG, four assists) benefited the most from the defensive concentration on Holloway (17 points on 5-10 FG, 6-6 FT, six assists). Yet Holloway showed he could get his, no matter how many Bearcats were in front of him. Their inability to stop him fueled his ego in front of the Cincinnati bench, where he started trash-talking not only at other players but coaches too.
That’s what you want to see from Xavier and Cincinnati,” Holloway boasted in the postgame presser. “They were disrespecting us before the game. One of their guys called me out and said I couldn’t start for them. I was saying, ‘this is my city here.’ One of their guys just put his hands in my face.” Lyons added, “The media is the reason why everybody was so amped up.”
Cronin proclaimed that he will be meeting with his school’s president and athletic director regarding how many of his players would be dismissed from the team:
“Whether there are five guys on the team, or 10 or 13, there are a lot of kids that would appreciate the scholarship” [...] “You guys [the media] thinking [players are] too important. Too much glorification of sports in all our society,” Cincinnati’s Cronin told reporters afterwards. He thought Holloway should “grow up” regarding the Kilpatrick interview, and spoke over and over about how his players should represent themselves with respect on the court: “I made [his players] take their jerseys off. … Some of them I *physically* took off. … Half of Orlando is homeless. Have some class!”
For his part, Xavier coach Chris Mack agreed and the final violent altercation “disappointing… for it to play itself out as it did at the end, the only word is ‘disappointing’.” Mack excused Holloway and Lyons’ postgame braggadocio by saying, “I think they don’t represent themselves with words very well.” Mack assured everyone that “there will be punishments,” but he did his best to give little detail. His undefeated and nationally-ranked squad has much more to lose with mass suspensions; his dabbling in minor details was smart but lacked the made-for-TV exasperated rant by UC’s Cronin.
The judgments of suspensions or dismissals from any of the schools or their respective conferences will be coming out soon. In the sports world, judgments are already flying far and fast. Holloway and Lyons’ postgame statements will cast them in the light of poor winners; Cronin’s “this is not professional basketball” rant angles him for critigues as a poor loser. A student in Xavier’s media room said, “everyone’s parents think we go to some hood school now!” A regional rivalry that claims to be just as important at the bigger-name rivalries? Now assessed as having its most violent chapter.
A few minutes after the teams left the court, a policeman sped toward some sideline seats. An older man with a shaved head and wearing Cincinnati black had raised his fists towards a younger man wearing Xavier blue. The younger man taunted, lunged, and was held back by those around him before pointing at the scoreboard and being escorted up the stairs. The older man was held by a woman, who patted him on the head while he roared up the stairs at the other man. After a few seconds, the passion in his eyes softened and his posture relaxed while the woman kept patting his head.
Rivalries bring out the best and the worst of us. Young and old, women and men. Passion is hard to control whether you’re on the court, beside it, or watching it from afar. Sadly the punches and words from this afternoon at the Cintas Center will outweigh the result of the game and instead weigh heavily on the national state of college basketball.
Even though those passions ultimately subsided after just a few moments of head-patting.