Saturday, February 19, 2011

Tough Weekend Technically Speaking

It’s been a tough weekend in the Big East – technically speaking.

At least four different coaches and a player picked up technical fouls on Saturday. Jamie Dixon and Steve Lavin both got them in St. Johns’ upset of Pittsburgh. St. John’s guard D. J. Kennedy threw one in for good measure.

Not to be outdone, West Virginia Coach Bob Huggins and Notre Dame Coach Mike Brey both picked up technicals in the Mountaineers upset of the Irish. And Louisville’s Preston Knowles and Connecticut’s Kemba Walker both got technical fouls on Friday night during the Cardinals victory over the Huskies. Just what in the name of Bob Knight is going on here?

If you ask me, this recent rash of technical fouls actually started on Feb. 9 when Louisville’s Kyle Kuric was called for “taunting” after glaring at a Notre Dame defender following a monster slam dunk. This drew outrage because it was so out of character for Kuric -- perhaps Louisville’s softest spoken player. If Kuric were guilty, then what about all his jersey popping, muscle flexing, finger-waving Big East brethren?

Rather than show restraint -- or admit a mistake -- Big East officials naturally overreacted. They have been handing out technical fouls like tattoos in the NBA ever since.

The crackdown leaves one confused about exactly what results in a technical foul and what doesn’t. To the casual viewer, it’s not always clear. On Friday, the officials were kind of enough to say into a national TV microphone that Knowles got his foul for encouraging a “bull sh@t” chant. Other times it remains a mystery.

But don’t worry. I’ve got your answers right here. Based on what I’ve seen, the following will definitely result in a technical: glaring (Kuric), enjoying a profane chant (Knowles), raising three fingers after a three-pointer (Marquette’s Darius Johnson-Odom) and generally throwing a hissy fit from the bench, unless, of course, your name happens to be Jim Boeheim (Dixon, Lavin, Huggins and Brey).

So how’s a boy to celebrate or to protest? Once again, based on my unscientific viewing, there are plenty of things a player can still do with impunity, including popping his jersey, flexing his muscles, blowing kisses, screaming at no one in particular and pounding his chest. I even saw a guy get away with slapping the ball after a timeout.

But no glaring … definitely no glaring.

* * *

Friday’s Louisville game also showed why players are so often tempted to abandon the fundamental play in favor of the spectacular one. U of L guard Peyton Siva stole the ball from his UConn counterpart and sped down the court for a sure, easy layup. Instead, Siva climbed the ladder and threw down a nasty 360-degree dunk. What was his reward for taking this unnecessary risk? Only every SportsCenter highlight for the next 24 hours.

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