The ugly brawl that closed Tuesday night’s Kansas State-Kansas basketball game is going to result in punishments for the players of both teams involved – and maybe the schools and their coaches https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMD9XUbFqSc.
Kansas coach Bill Self called the brawl an “embarrassment” and put the majority of blame on his squad.
“I know we were in the wrong,” Self said. “I’m not saying both parties weren’t in the wrong, but I know that we were in the wrong.”
The primary instigator was Kansas forward Silvio De Sousa. As Kansas was trying to run out the clock in their 81-60 win, KSU’s DaJuan Gordon stole the ball and went for a layup. De Sousa blocked the shot and towered over Gordon and taunted him. That was a bad look for De Sousa. It got far worse.
That precipitated the brawl that turned ugly and quickly. The low-light was De Sousa holding a stool over his head looking for someone to hit with it. The brawl spilled into the area where fans that seated on the floor behind the basket.
So what’s next?
The Big 12 (and the NCAA) is accused by West Virginia fans of treating Kansas basketball favorably compared to the rest of the conference. It’s not a totally unfair accusation. The conference’s reaction to this brawl can either cement or refute that accusation.
Let’s take a look at what should what will and happen as a result of this brawl.
De Sousa (KU)
What should happen: Season-long suspension. De Sousa should have played his last game of college basketball. Not because De Sousa was the the primary instigator of the brawl, which he was. Not because none of this happens if it wasn’t for his taunting, though that’s true, too. This fate should have been sealed the minute he picked up the stool and waved it above his head. Fortunately, he didn’t hit anyone with that stool. But the conference and the NCAA can’t tolerate a player wildly swinging a dangerous weapon in a crowd of players, officials and fans. The potential is too disastrous.
What probably will happen: 10 games. The closest comparable (relatively) recent incident was a 2011 bench-clearing brawl between Cincinnati and Xavier https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1N49HSUAvY. The most heavily punished combatants in that incident – Cincinnati’s Yancy Gates, Cheikh Mdodj and Octavius Ellis were suspended six games by the NCAA. Xavier’s Dezmine Wells and Landen Amos received four games. De Sousa will get more tacked on because of the stool and because he took the fight into the fans area on the floor. But don’t expect the conference or the NCAA to suspend De Sousa for the rest of the season. It’s Kansas, among other things. The Jayhawks have 13 regular season games left. De Sousa will likely play in some of them.
David Sloan (KSU)
What should happen: Six games. Sloan was the first Kansas State player into the fight. He appears to push De Sousa from behind, triggering the literal violence of the incident. If Sloan doesn’t run in and push De Sousa, it’s possible (likely) the extent of this incident was poor sportsmanship by De Sousa and Gordon. Sloan helped escalate it. Because of that, and based on the UC-Xavier precedent, Sloan should get six games.
What will happen: Six games. A lot depends on what De Sousa gets. No one should (or will) get a stiffer punishment that him. And it shouldn’t be close. If De Sousa gets the 10 games we predict, six games sounds about right.
What should happen: Two games. The ember that started this wildfire was Gordon stealing the ball rather than letting KU run out the clock. It’s a violation of the “unwritten rules” of basketball. If the team leading the blowout is willing to end the game without scoring any more, the trailing team lets them. Obviously Gordon didn’t. Not exactly the crime of the century. But given what transpired because of this, and because he was involved in at least some physical altercations, he should get a two-game suspension.
What will happen: One game. The conference and/or NCAA likely doesn’t let Gordon off Scot Free because of the end result. But he’s not likely to get hammered, either, simply for violating unwritten rules. Expect a one-game suspension for Gordon.
Players leaving the bench (KU/KSU)
What should happen: One game. The more people that join a brawl the worse the potential outcome becomes. That’s why a one-game suspension – across the board – should be applied here. Obviously these suspensions would need to be spaced out, otherwise neither team could play its next game. But players need to be discouraged from entering the fray from the bench.
What will happen: Zero games. College basketball doesn’t have a precedent for blanket suspensions for leaving the bench during physical altercations, and its not likely to start one now.
What should happen: Two games. If a player gets a free tattoo, his coach can be held responsible for the player’s actions. There’s no reason that shouldn’t apply here. Self admitted his team was at greater fault in the incident. He shouldn’t escape responsibility for it. Two games is an appropriate punishment for his failure to control his players.
What will happen: Zero games. Self isn’t going to get anything. He’s just not. The conference and the NCAA aren’t going to break new ground with one of the most prominent coaches in the game.
Bruce Weber (coach, KSU)
What should happen: One game. For the same reasons as Self, Weber needs held to account here, too. As Self said, KU bears a greater responsibility, therefore Weber should get a one game suspension.
What will happen: Zero games. You can’t punish Weber and not Self, and Self isn’t getting suspended.