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Ugly Without an Alibi

January 10, 2002 Columns No Comments

U-G-L-Y! You ain’t got no Alibi…

by Bill Thayer

I think we’ve all seen the video by now. Texas freshman point guard T.J.
Ford chasing down a loose ball, only to end up in the stands being attacked
by an angry Oklahoma State fan. It was an ugly scene that will be replayed
throughout the rest of the season.

First off, Ford did nothing wrong. He was chasing after a ball at full speed
and clearly tried to pull up when he hit the woman in the front row. It’s
not uncommon for a player to end up in the crowd, especially one as close as
the fans in Gallagher-Iba Arena are. Ford did nothing malicious, he did not
take a swing or try to topple the woman.

I don’t think Royal Ivey did anything wrong by jumping in when his teammate,
who had neck surgery in the offseason, was being attacked by a fan. Ivey
saw one of his own being jumped in a hostile environment and did what he had
to. The same goes to any Longhorns who came to the aid of Ford (with the
lone exception being James Thomas, who you can see throwing a haymaker into
the crowd as he came running in).

College basketball is an emotional game, and Saturday’s Texas-Oklahoma State
contest was no different. The Cowboys had been the feel-good story of the
year, possible national title contenders a year after a horrible accident
took a pair of players as well as eight other members of their traveling
party. Eddie Sutton has enough talent to parlay into another final four
appearance and possible national title.

A dark cloud will hang over the Cowboys after this incident, however.
Although no players or coaches were at fault, the program will still be cast
in a bad light. Lon Samuelson asked me this week if I thought the fan would
have attacked Maurice Baker, if it was Baker who went into the stands. My
response? No way. The Cowboys were trailing by double digits in the final
minutes of a conference war. Baker would have been helped back to the
court, unlike Ford.

It’s time for the fans to be held accountable for their actions. Players
have been sued for assaulting fans, and though it will not happen, I would
like to see Ford or the Texas program press charges against the Cowboy fan.
He had no right doing what he did and should pay the price for his actions.

Assorted Musings

• Congratulations to Florida State on their win over Duke. I was surprised
by how athletic the Seminoles looked in defeating the then-No. 1 ranked Blue
Devils. There is some talent there, as the ‘Noles could scare a few ACC
opponents. There is no real inside game, but they have plenty of wing
players who will get after it night after night…

• Speaking of the Duke loss, I would be sick if I was coach Mike
Krzyzewski. There is no way I could live with a point guard who goes 0-6
from the line, while committing more turnovers than assists. If I was
playing Duke in a tight game in the final minutes, I would consider fouling
Williams until he proves he can hit free throws in a crucial situation.
He’s more dangerous from behind the three point arc than he is from the foul
line. And don’t even get me started what Chris Duhon is (or isn’t) bringing
to the table…

• I was impressed with Rutgers sophomore Herve Lamizana. (sorry if I
misspelled his name). The 6’9″ forward has a great inside/outside game, and
unlike most players his age, seems to have grown into his body. There is
little awkwardness in his game. Gary Waters has a special player there…

• Luke Ridnour seems to be coming of age as he led Oregon to a pair of wins
over Arizona last week. Ridnour did not have the huge freshman year some
people expected him to but has become an on-the-court leader for the

• The most dominant team in the nation are the Lady Huskies of UConn. I
don’t think I was alone in marveling how easily they took apart Tennessee in

• Although it kept me up until 2:30 am Tuesday, the Gonzaga/New Mexico game
was a thriller. I don’t think I have ever yelled at my TV at 2 in the morning until that game, though. The officiating was embarrasing. There is no reason to call a
charge in the final seconds of a tied game, especially when the call was
wrong (it was clearly a block, the defender was moving and did not have the
angle). On top of that, I would not have called a technical on the Zags,
but fortunately for Mark Few, Ruben Douglas appeared to have taken free
throw lessons from Jason Williams. If I was a top ranked team, I would be
praying not to see the Zags in my half of the bracket in March.


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