Chuck Landon: Ugly game suggests end to basketball series, too
CHARLESTON — Maybe it’s time to end this series between Marshall and West Virginia University, too.
I mean, what’s the point?
The Mountaineers already have quit playing Marshall in football.
And after watching Marshall’s 69-59 loss to WVU here Saturday night in the Civic Center Coliseum, it might be time to pull the plug on the basketball series as well.
Let’s be honest.
Did anybody actually enjoy watching this ugly display of basketball that was long on shovin’, muggin’ and Huggins and alarmingly short on character?
It was impossible to find this game entertaining.
Except, of course, for an officiating supervisor. It was a veritable clinic for officials, taxing their knowledge of just about every sportsmanship guideline in the rule book.
Who had fun? Show of hands. I can’t imagine too many were raised.
It was ugly basketball between two ugly playing teams that got disgustingly ugly near the end of the ugly game.
I don’t know about you, but I am about uglied-out on this series.
That’s because this brutal game which is punctuated with incidents of players losing their composure has become the rule in this series, not the exception.
It happened here last season.
And this year it got even worse.
The box score told the sordid tale. Five players were called for technical fouls and five players were ejected. Three of the technicals were on Marshall players, while four of the ejections were Mountaineers.
Marshall’s Nigel Spikes and Elijah Pittman were assessed technical fouls, while Rob Goff was cited for a flagrant technical and was ejected. For WVU, Juwan Staten and Gary Browne received technicals, while Terry Henderson, Aaric Murray, Jabarie Hinds and Eron Harris all were ejected for leaving the bench area.
All of the ejections stemmed from an incident that exploded with only 1:37 left to play.
Goff got knocked to the floor and a WVU player appeared to fall on top of him.
Goff, who was kicked in the head by a WVU player earlier in the game while going after a loose ball, had enough. He exploded, flailing a knee at the WVU player atop him.
Next, a skirmish commenced that included the WVU players who left the bench area.
I wish I could say I was surprised. But I wasn’t. The tension, emotion and hard feelings had been brewing and escalating the entire game.
“It all built up from the beginning,” said Pittman. “Then, at the end it all blew up.”
Did it ever.
The sobering part is this is the sort of incident that has been defining this series recently.
Is that what college basketball is supposed to be about? I don’t think so. But that’s what this Marshall-WVU basketball series has become all about.
And that’s a shame.
The only two major college basketball programs in the state of West Virginia should be able to play a basketball game without it denigrating into a Hatfield-McCoy feud.
But, unfortunately, that hasn’t been possible lately.
So, again, what is the point?
Remember, this is supposed to be fun. It’s supposed to be entertainment. It’s supposed to be a respite from the dog-eat-dog, hate-thy-neighbor world we live in.
And if it’s not, then why bother?
When I broached Marshall coach Tom Herrion with the premise that, perhaps, this series should be ended, he didn’t agree. But when I remarked that these games weren’t fun to watch, he had an interesting comment.
“They’re not fun to coach, either,” said Herrion.
Then, what’s the point?
Chuck Landon is a columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Call him at 304-526-2827, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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