This topic was stealing center stage…so, we wanted to extricate it from the State-Duke entry that should be focused on…well…State and Duke!
With 14 seconds to go in today’s Duke/Carolina game – and with the game firmly in the hands of the Tarheels who had a 12 point lead – Duke’s Gerald Henderson connected with a forearm across the bridge of Tyler Hansbrough’s nose on a put-back attempt after a rebound of missed Carolina free throw.
The N&O continues:
The contact was after the ball left Hansbrough’s hands and Henderson was ejected. Hansbrough exited the court with blood pouring from his face and fuming at the intensity and timing of the foul.
The game referees released a statement after the game explaining the call.
“By rule, this is a flagrant foul for combative and confrontational action. It is ruled a fight. By rule, it is an automatic ejection. By NCAA rule, he must sit out the next game.”
Hansbrough rebounded a Bobby Frasor missed free throw with 14 seconds left and instead of kicking the ball out to let the clock expire he was playing tough and trying to physically position himself for more points – preferably on a dunk in the face of the Blue Devils. What was Duke supposed to do? Just allow Tyler Hansbrough to go up for a posterizing dunk on a play that never needed to happen in the first place (why was Hansbrough on the court up 12 with 14 seconds to go)?
Absolutely not. Duke should be allowed to play just as hard as Hansbrough.
People who have never played basketball/sports don’t understand how quick things happen in real time. From the comfort of your couch and the endless slow motion replays, you can’t help but get the impression that these athletes can control things that are happening at phenomenally quick speeds. This is not reality.
I just watched some Charlotte news footage that was taken from behind the basket in real time. Folks, this happened SO FAST that NOBODY could have stopped their swipe at full speed in mid-air. It just doesn’t work that way. This ain’t The Matrix. People can’t contort their movements like that by stopping time no matter how spoiled your high definition viewing in slow motion makes you.
If you watch the replay, Henderson’s swat would have been very close to where Hansbrough would have had the ball if the ball hadn’t been blocked/swiped by another Duke player before it got to Henderson. But, the block of the ball from behind changed the whole play and the positioning of Hansbrough.
By then it was far was too late for Henderson. He was committed to his anticipation and was swinging hard and trying to make a block on a big guy trying to dunk. When the ball was deflected and was no longer at the projected spot, Henderson’s follow through came right into Hansbrough’s face. Had the ball not been knocked out of Hansbrough’s hands .19 of a second before Henderson tried to dunk then all would have been fine. The worst thing that Gerald Henderson did was forget his black trench coat and Keanu Reaves super powers.
It was unfortunate. But, it was also uncontrollable at that speed and in that situation.
No. Wait. I take that back. It was completely controllable. All Hansbrough had to do was kick the ball out to a guard to hold for 14 seconds instead of trying to get some nasty slam designed to rub salt in Duke’s wounds. Or, all Roy Williams had to do was to not have his starters in the game up 12 with 14 seconds. That would have controlled the situation.
But…of course…Hansbrough has the unalienable right to play hard and the Duke players aren’t given that same right? Why is that Tyler Hansbrough has the innate right to be intense and playing extremely hard at the end of the game but nobody else is allowed to do the same thing?
The play was hard; I personally think that it was meant to be hard; I definitely do not believe that it was meant to be intentional; The problem lies in the interpretation of ‘flagrant’
“By rule, this is a flagrant foul for combative and confrontational action”. OK. I buy that. If that is the rule for “flagrant” then I buy it. The problem therefore is that we have all seen dozens of fouls this season that constitute “combative and confrontational action”.
Ironically, it is the very Tyler Hansbrough who is involved in this situation that literally took a swipe/swing at the head of Brandon Costner in the Tarheels visit to Raleigh earlier in the year. Hansbrough barely missed conncecting with Costner, but did that somehow diminish the “combative and confrontational action” of taking a blatant swing at an opposing player in behavior that IN NO WAY was related to the play of the ball?
In the end, I think that I generally agree with these comments made by ESPN’s Pat Forde in this entry.
After viewing the replay several times, I agree that the blow to the face did not appear to be intentional. Henderson was going to block Hansbrough’s shot, then Hansbrough’s arm was pulled down and the ball flew out and Henderson’s forearm smashed Psycho T’s face. This was not a premeditated knockout.
However, Henderson appeared to be going in with the intent to deliver an enthusiastically hard foul. There is a place in the game for hard fouls, for forcefully preventing easy baskets, for occasionally planting an opponent on his rear end.